'It was incredible' – Meet the SA director behind the music of Trevor Noah's latest comedy special

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George Avakian | Trevor Noah
George Avakian | Trevor Noah
Photo: Gallo/Getty Images

Trevor Noah may be a global star, but he is keen to work with South Africans in everything he does.

The comedian released his latest comedy special, Trevor Noah: I Wish You Would, on Netflix on Tuesday, and it turns out the music for the special was recorded and curated by South Africans.

"I got a call from David Paul Meyer saying, 'Trevor's asked for you by name'," music director George Avakian tells News24.

It comes as no surprise as Avakian has done this before. 

"I've produced music for Trevor before. It was his first or second one after Daywalker," Avakian says, referring to Noah's 2009 special. 

"David said to me, 'We need something different. Could you just, you know, put a couple of options together for us?'" Avakian explains of the process. He adds: "They sent me the intro, and then I just looked for something young and upcoming or anything contemporary and put together a whole bunch of options for them."

"A lot of the time shows like this will use some sort of generic music, so I just think it's really cool that they wanted something that's going to represent Trevor and South Africa."

As for who the musician behind the music is, Avakian says his first choice was recording artist Lunatik, which is the option Noah's team chose.

"He's produced big South African hits like Caracara. He's got a crazy, crazy catalogue of stuff he's done. And this was our second Netflix series that we have put together music for, which is pretty cool."

Avakian and Lunatik also created the soundtrack for Only Jokes Allowed, which was released on 9 February.

Sharing the news on Instagram, Lunatik wrote: "Got to do the soundtrack for the new Trevor Noah: I Wish You Would Netflix special. Thank God. I'm beyond honoured to be a part of this. Big thank you to David Paul Meyer and George Avakian for the opportunity."

Sharing what it's like to have worked with Noah, Avakian says, "He's amazing. It's always super fun working with Trevor."

The former festival director at Rocking the Daisies recalls when they were recording an intro for one of Noah's specials. He can't remember which but does remember how natural Noah was.

"We actually had Trevor on auto-tune. I can't remember which one of his shows it was, but it was incredible. I just turned the auto-tune on, and Trevor jumped behind the mic, and the first take we got was actually what ended up being in the intro," Avakian says.

"He really has an eye for what's going to work. I'll never forget playing the intro for the live audience; people were laughing. He just knows exactly what he wants to achieve and what his audience wants."

Noah is scheduled to perform in South Africa between August and September next year, partly thanks to Avakian.

Elaborating on his involvement, the media entrepreneur says he connected Noah with the tour's main sponsor, Savanna.

"It just made sense because of Savanna's investment in comedy, and they've just been so incredible to work with," Avakian says. "I think it's elevated the tour, and they've got a whole bunch of things they're planning together that will come out soon. So, it's a very exciting partnership and very cool for me to be involved with."

Trevor Noah: I Wish You Would is now streaming on Netflix. 


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