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'The benchmark Trevor Noah set for himself was brilliant'

Local celebrities & media attended a private screening of Noah's 'Daily Show' debut earlier today.

A screengrab showing South African comedian and new host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, who marked a dream start to today on Comedy Central.

JOHANNESBURG - Praises continue to pour in for South African comedian and new host of The Daily Show Trevor Noah ahead of the local airing of his show this evening.

Noah made his debut in the America last night.

Local celebrity Maps Maponyane, who was among those invited there to exclusively watch Noah's first show, says his extremely proud of the comedian.

"It was an awesome debut and I think he's only going to get better. To start the benchmark there for himself, was brilliant."

Singer Bucie says watching his first episode made her emotional.

"At some point I felt like crying. I think I had a little tear in my eyes. You don't have to be related for you to just watch and be so proud. I was so proud of him."

Comedian Simmi Arref says he loved his opening monologue.

"I think it was very brave and cool. Trevor did a Whitney Huston and Pope gag on his opening monologue it was absolutely amazing."

The show is being screened on Comedy Central at 9pm tonight.

WATCH: The Daily Show - Trevor Noah Continues the War on Bulls**t.

NOAH'S LUKEWARM WELCOME

Noah got a lukewarm welcome as new host of The Daily Show in a debut that featured jokes about himself, immigrants and Pope Francis.

As promised, the South African-born comedian made few changes on Monday to the format of political and pop culture satire and a nightly interview that was developed by his predecessor, Jon Stewart, who stepped down in August after 16 years.

That proved both reassuring and a little disappointing to US television critics. Ratings for the late night Comedy Central show are due later on Tuesday.

Washington Post critic Hank Stuever called Noah's performance a "seemingly smooth debut."

"I just have to ask: What were we all so afraid of?" he said. "It's too early for Noah to crush it but it's enough for now to just utter a sigh of relief. The Daily Show is back with its essential wit and irreverence intact."

Noah, who is little known in the United States, made his new-ness a running joke in Monday's show, quipping that The Daily Show family "has a new stepdad. And he's black." Since other celebrities had turned down the host's job, "once again, a job Americans rejected is now being done by an immigrant."

A joke about Pope Francis and the size of his penis, and a cocaine joke about dead singer Whitney Houston, did not go over well with either the studio audience or some TV critics.

Lloyd Grove for the Daily Beast called Noah's debut "crude, clumsy."

"His material was hit-and-miss even the raucously cheerleading studio audience groaned at times and he seemed, at least in his initial outing, to lack his predecessor's valuable gift for exhuming laughs from the death of a punch line," he wrote.

At USA Today, Robert Bianco felt Noah's debut was "less than spectacular" but New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik, compared it to a new iPhone.

"It was sleeker, fresher and redesigned," Poniewozik said. "There were tweaks here and there, look, even a new font! But it still does essentially the same thing."

Additional reporting from Reuters.