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Teen Eye Loves Hasan Minhaj

Image by Ajunie Virk, 16 (she/her).

Image by Ajunie Virk, 16 (she/her).

Maybe you haven’t realized it yet, but you’ve probably seen Hasan Minhaj at least once in your life. The Indian-American is a long-time correspondent on political late night show The Daily Show With Trevor Noah and the star of his Netflix special Homecoming King, which mixes hilarious jokes with personal anecdotes about growing up as a minority in America. Minhaj isn’t just a comedian -- he’s reinventing comedy as we know it. Out is slapstick comedy and characters skits. In the genre Minhaj has revolutionized himself: political comedy. It’s no wonder we love him!

Minhaj tackles topics such as racial and religious discrimination in almost all of his stand up shows, the most popular being Homecoming King. Homecoming King is the autobiographical story of Minhaj’s life, beginning at his birth and spanning into the present. However, before he dives into his story, he starts with his parents’. Early in the show, he compares his parents’ marriage to Tinder, but he also points out the fact that the two things are similar because they never met each other. While this is uncommon in America, Minhaj explains that it’s normal in India, subtly explaining his own culture in a country that, despite boasting about its racial diversity, majorly focuses on white stories. What’s more, Minhaj is willing to openly discuss his parents’ challenges moving to America, as well as his own.

Stories about immigration are stereotypically centered around overcoming adversities and successfully fulfilling the American dream. However, Minhaj is well aware this is not always true and he conveys that in his show. Being a first-generation American is not all fun and games. In fact, there tend to be many moments full of frustration and anger. In an interview with SplitSider, Hasan said, “Even within some of the saddest times of my life, there’ve always been these moments that are kind of funny within them.” Some of these instances include his family’s car windows being broken in after 9/11 and his father suffering a heart attack, two events mentioned in Homecoming King. Both parts of the show were sprinkled with witty one-liners and small jokes to make the viewer cry, whether from laughter or sorrow.

Minhaj has had his share of unfortunate events, but his sacrifices have seemed to pay off. Besides Homecoming King, Minhaj was the host of the 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner, roasting everybody from MSNBC to Donald Trump. “Only in America can a Muslim get on this stage and make fun of the President,” he joked a ballroom of laughing journalists. Again, Minhaj is able to include his culture with ease and success. His jokes run smoothly, and even if you’re not Indian-American, there’s still an aspect of it that everyone can relate to.

Political comedy hasn’t always been popular, but the movement is certainly gaining speed with top-brand names like Samantha Bee, Jessica Williams, John Oliver, Chris Rock, and of course, Hasan Minhaj. “We don’t need wig comedy,” Minhaj said in an interview with Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In today’s world, Hasan’s words make total sense. We need the United States to be more politically informed than ever, especially the next generation. Combining politics with comedy makes it levels more interesting and engaging. Sure, political comedy might be more cynical and serious than other comedic genres, but it’s more important for the average American to be aware of today’s issues than watching another group be picked on and blamed for the sake of a laugh. Many Americans are already starting to take notice of this new wave of diverse political comedians; 1.5 million viewers watch The Daily Show, which features people of color like Trevor Noah, Minhaj, and formerly Jessica Williams, who is now the star of The Incredible Jessica James. Because of the ratings boost, Comedy Central has extended Trevor Noah’s time as host until 2022. With so many challenges, it’s important to demonstrate that minorities can and will stand up to any opposer, even if that person is the president. We need people just as outgoing and bold as Trump in the opposite direction, and late-night comedians like Minhaj fit the bill. Perhaps this new wave of comedians will be the unsung heroes and leaders of the revolution against the current presidential administration. If so, lead on, Mr. Minhaj.