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Trevor Noah honoured in Netherlands

Comedian is first South African to win the prestigious award worth R3m

Trevor delivers his acceptance speech after winning the Erasmus Prize in Netherlands.
Trevor delivers his acceptance speech after winning the Erasmus Prize in Netherlands.
Image: Trevor Noah/ X

Comedian Trevor Noah has been awarded the 2023 Erasmus Prize.

Noah collected the prize, worth a whooping R3m in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on Wednesday evening.

The Erasmus Prize is awarded by the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, in an annual ceremony, to a person or institution that has made an exceptional contribution to the humanities, the social sciences or the arts in Europe and beyond.

In his acceptance speech, the former Daily Show host said it was unbelievable how being a comedian has changed his life.

“It is truly an honour to be standing here as a recipient of this prestigious accolade. And to be honest, it’s really a little unbelievable. Mostly because I never thought there was anything that could bring me to Amsterdam in the winter.

“But also, because when I started my career in comedy, I never once dreamed that the tiny stage that I was standing on in Johannesburg would become the first piece of an intricate puzzle that would connect me to people from all over the world. All I wanted, and all I ever hoped for in that moment, was that I could find a way to connect with the 20 people who were sitting in that room. Many of whom were drunk. And to be honest, that’s what comedy is to me, that’s what comedy means to me,” said Noah.

He also took it to his social media platforms to express his excitement and those who kept him company during the ceremony.

“Thank you for the warm welcome Netherlands! It was truly an honour to be awarded the 2023 Erasmus Prize!! Special thanks to the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, His Majesty the King Willem-Alexander and The Royal Family. Humberto Tan, for the delightful conversation and lastly, everyone that attended last night in Amsterdam,” he posted.

Noah is the first South African and comedian to win the prestigious honour.

The foundation in a statement said Noah was awarded because of his inspired contribution to the theme “In Praise of Folly”, named after Erasmus’ most famous book “which is filled with humour, social criticism and political satire”.

“With his sharp-minded, mocking yet inclusive political comedy, Noah, in the eyes of the jury, upholds the ‘Erasmian Spirit’,” read the statement.

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