Since the Oscars did not have an official host this year, it was up to the various presenters to fill the night with jokes, and they totally delivered. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph kicked off the ceremony with a bunch of silly puns, and comedians like Awkwafina, John Mulaney, and Keegan-Michael Key kept the laughs coming as the night went on. But one of the funniest jokes of the night probably flew over the heads of most of the viewers. Trevor Noah's Black Panther Oscars joke in Xhosa was only for the people watching who can speak Xhosa.
Trevor Noah took to the Oscars stage about halfway through the ceremony to introduce a clip of Best Picture nominee Black Panther. A fun fact that Noah revealed earlier that night was that he was actually in Black Panther as the voice of a Wakandan spaceships navigation system, so it was fitting that he introduce the clip. In his short presentation, Noah joked that he grew up in Wakanda alongside T'Challa, and that the Black Panther character shared some inspiring words with him.
Growing up as a young boy in Wakanda, I would see T'Challa flying over our village, and he would remind me of a great Xhosa phrase. He says "Abelungu abazi uba ndiyaxoka," which means, "In times like these, we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart."
Trevor Noah claimed that the Xhosa phrase was an inspiring message of unity, but it actually translates to: "White people don't know I'm lying." Of course, the joke only landed for viewers who can understand the South African language of Xhosa, and that makes it all the funnier. Plus, Noah delivered the fake translation completely straight-faced. Check out the moment again in the video clip below:
Not everyone got the joke right away, but once people started to realize what Trevor Noah really said on the Oscars stage, everyone started to absolutely lose it at the unexpected moment of trolling:
As many fans know, Trevor Noah was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. His mother Patricia is of Xhosa ancestry, the second largest ethnic group in South Africa. Noah is actually currently producing a biopic about his mother and the circumstances around his own birth under South Africa's apartheid laws, based on his 2016 memoir Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. The movie, simply titled Born a Crime, will likely premiere later this year, and it stars Lupita N'yongo as Noah's mother Patricia.
The sneaky joke from Trevor Noah was just one of the highlights surrounding Black Panther at the Oscars this year. The superhero movie was one of the most highly nominated movies of the night, being up for seven categories, and it wound up tying for the second-most Oscar wins with three trophies, losing only to Bohemian Rhapsody's four wins. Black Panther won Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, and Best Original Score.