A star of The Daily Show has come out in defence of Trevor Noah, its newly appointed host, amid controversy over old remarks he posted on Twitter.
Comedian Aasif Mandvi called the furore “much ado about nothing”.
Noah is accused of making jokes offensive to women and Jews, with some calling on Comedy Central to fire him.
The US TV network is standing behind the South African comedian, saying: “To judge him… on a handful of jokes is unfair.”
Mandvi, a correspondent on the satirical news programme, said he did not know Noah well but trusted the judgment of his predecessor, Jon Stewart.
“I met [Noah] a couple times – he seems like a great guy,” he said at an event in New York.
“I trust Jon Stewart. Jon seems to want him to take over, so I trust that. I think the only way we’re going to know is once he does the job.
“The guy made some sort of, you know, off-colour, irresponsible tweets, but he was trying to be funny.”
Former Daily Show reporter Rob Corddry also commented on press coverage of Noah’s jokes.
“Trevor Noah has an easier job than everyone thinks if this is the media he gets to punch in the face every night,” he tweeted. “Can’t wait.”
Noah, a relative unknown in the US, had only appeared on The Daily Show three times before being selected as Stewart’s successor.
The 31-year-old has been a popular performer in his home country for years and appeared at last year’s Royal Variety Performance.
Many of the tweets in question date back to 2010 and 2011, when the TV and radio presenter was launching his stand-up career.
In one from 2011 he wrote: “Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk and think that I’m sexy!” – a quote he attributed to “fat chicks everywhere”.
A post from 2010 reads: “South Africans know how to recycle like Israel knows how to be peaceful.”
“Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries,” Comedy Central said in a statement. “He is provocative and spares no one, himself included.
“To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central.”
Noah acknowledged the criticism on Tuesday in a tweet that has since been deleted. “Twitter does not have enough characters to respond to all the characters on Twitter,” it read.
“To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian,” he wrote in a follow-up post.