Noah opens up to PEOPLE about preparing to host the 2024 Grammy Awards, where his special 'I Wish You Would' is nominated for best comedy album
The South African comedian, 39, is gearing up to host music's biggest night for the fourth year in a row — and this time, he's also nominated in the best comedy album category for his recent special, I Wish You Would.
This year's Grammys will be held on Feb. 4 at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles and feature performances from artists including SZA, Joni Mitchell, Billie Eilsh, Billy Joel, Dua Lipa, Luke Combs, Burna Boy, Olivia Rodrigo, Travis Scott and U2.
The ceremony itself will be a race between some of 2024's biggest stars to take home an award. SZA led this year's nominations with eight, followed by Phoebe Bridgers, engineer Serban Ghenea and Victoria Monét, who received seven nods each. Behind them, Rodrigo, Eilish, Jack Antonoff, Jon Batiste, boygenius, Brandy Clark, Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift each garnered six nominations.
Ahead of the 2024 Grammy Awards, Noah caught up with PEOPLE about his upcoming fourth time hosting, navigating the space following Jo Koy's Golden Globes controversy and whether or not he'll return to host again if he doesn't win a gramophone of his own this year.
This year marks your fourth time hosting the Grammy Awards. As someone who didn't come from the music world beforehand, what have you learned with each year that you've hosted?
The first thing I've learned is that all your preparation is really just the parachute for what actually happens on the night because anything can happen, and every single year it somehow does. I've also learned that because it's a celebration of these musicians and what they've done, everyone is there to party and have a good time. So, as the host, I'm constantly navigating the room. There's people walking by when I'm trying to do stuff. There are people who are catching up with their friends while I'm trying to move the show along.
In a weird way, I've come to understand, it's almost like I'm at a huge party, and I'm trying to work while I'm at the party. And then I've also learned to have a good time. It's one of the best concerts in my opinion. I don't think there are many shows that can rival what the Grammys puts on in terms of a collection of artists. Where else are you going to get to watch Dua Lipa, Burna Boy, Billie Eilish, you name it, on the same stage? That's something I don't take for granted and really enjoy.
Do you feel any nerves about this year after seeing Jo Koy's experience at the Golden Globes?
You know what? My nerves are the same every single year. I don't need to see anything to have nerves. I've never approached either an award show or a standup show without nerves. I always care about what happens. I don't take anything for granted, and I'm never sure that or how a joke will land. You just prepare. You hope for the best. Telling a joke is like jumping out of an airplane with a parachute, you have an idea of where you would like to land, but when you actually get close to the ground, you might be a little bit off from where you intended to be. So, I just work my ass off, try and think of the funniest things to say and ways to say them. The rest I leave to God.
In addition to hosting, you are nominated this year for best comedy album for your special, I Wish You Would. How does it feel to receive that honor, especially for this special?
It really is momentous for me because it's not just about the award or the nomination, it's about the company that I'm nominated alongside. I grew up watching Wanda Sykes on TV, just seeing her as one of the funniest human beings. I watched Chris Rock single-handedly define an era of comedy. I've watched Dave Chappelle enthrall audiences and take comedy to new heights. I mean, to be in the same category as these people is really something special. It becomes a milestone in my life that reminds me to think more about the process than the outcome. And just to be in this moment, I want to savor it for as long as possible.
You've been nominated for that same award once before in 2020, which was shortly before you started hosting the show. So, if you don't take this award home with you, will you consider returning to the show as a host next year? Or has this all been an elaborate campaign to win yourself a Grammy?
[Laughs] It's all been a long con. That's what it's been. No, no. I wish it was. I never dreamed nor hoped that I would be nominated for a Grammy. It's one of those beautiful accidents in life that you get to be, I guess, seated anywhere on the same stage as the performers who write the music to our lives. I'm really, really lucky to be in that company. But yeah, if I was asked to host, I think I would say yes — but let me give you that answer after I host this time. As my mom always says, just chew the food that's in your mouth, and you can focus on the next bites.
What are you most looking forward to about this year's show? Are there any performers you're most excited to see or awards you hope will go to certain people?
That one is tough for me because I'm the host and I'm a producer, so I try to keep myself as impartial as possible. I definitely have people where in my heart I go like, "Ooh, they did it for me." But as somebody who is not just a nominee at the Grammys, but as somebody who's been nominated for awards and other shows, the honest truth is I don't think there's any way you can win in art. I think the real way you win in art is by moving people and by making an impact in people's lives.
Awards are the industry rewarding you from the inside, and it's them saying, ‘This is a collective accolade.’ But I don't know. I'm not part of the tallying team, so I don't even know how close the votes are. Sometimes I think to myself, ‘What if somebody won by one, three or five votes?’ So, in a weird way, I don't root for any one person. I just think of my favorites and I go, ‘Oh, that person really did amazing. I loved what they did. I loved what they did. I think they should win.’ But the truth is, if anyone is nominated, it probably means they could and should win.
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