Hasan Minhaj (born September 23, 1985) is an American comedian, writer, actor, and television host. He was born in Davis, California to Indian U.P. Muslim immigrants.
His big break occurred in 2014 when he became the last official correspondent hired by Jon Stewart for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart before Stewart's retirement a year later, and Hasan has since gone on to become yet another relatively unknown comedian whom The Daily Show has springboarded to national and international fame.
He continued as a correspondent after Stewart's retirement on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for a few years. Then, after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, he followed in the footsteps of fellow Daily Show alumni Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore by hosting the 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner.
Trump, who had developed an adversarial relationship with the WH press corps, had already proclaimed that he would not attend the dinner. Other better-known comedians reportedly turned down the gig, and Samantha Bee even hosted an alternative "Correspondents Dinner" on the same night. Hasan apparently agreed to "not go after the administration" prior to the event, but when he got there, he went full-throttle.
Not long after that, Netflix came knocking, and his stand-up comedy special Homecoming King debuted on the streaming service in May 2017 to critical acclaim, even winning a Peabody Award. Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, Hasan's own talk show, premiered soon after in October 2018, running for six seasons before being cancelled in August 2020. A second Netflix stand-up special, The King's Jester, was released in October 2022.
Tropes for Hasan Minhaj and his specials include:
- Alternate Character Interpretation: In-universe, Hasan believes that Bethany was just another racist white Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, as were her parents, for rejecting him as a prom date due to being Indian-Muslim. His father, upon hearing the story, says that Bethany was listening to her parents, who in turn were trying to protect their child from the monster in media and didn't understand the degree of harm they were causing a teenager, and that Bethany should not be hated forever for the pain she caused. Bethany herself says that she was a kid with controlling parents and regretted her silence at the time, knowing that she was a coward.
- "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: After agreeing to meet up with Bethany on truce as an adult, Hasan confronts her for how she more or less dumped him and let her parents choose a "better-fitting" prom date while making him take the fall at school for not going to prom with her. Bethany says that she was a kid with controlling parents, but admits there is no excuse for her actions and that she ought to have stood up to them and gone to prom with her actual boyfriend.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Hasan explains in Homecoming King that his parents were from a generation of 1980s Indians that were happy to immigrate, period. It meant they looked over racism at the time that would have Indians of his generation rankled and righteously furious, from hate graffiti to name-calling.
- Forgiveness: Hasan's father encouraged him to forgive Bethany rather than hate her forever. He says that any parent, good or bad-intentioned, would be trying to protect their kids, and Bethany shouldn't be blamed for the actions her parents took. Hasan manages it when talking to her, realizing that he was holding a lot of hate about the incident that defined his adulthood for nothing.
- Heel Realization:
- Bethany is less than pleased as an adult when she tries to make small talk, and Hasan cuts to the chase, calling her out for destroying his trust in white people and then acting like they're still cool. She manages some apology while also explaining her side of the story.
- Hasan himself began to realize that he was probably going beyond the pale with the latter-series content and topics of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj (especially with increasing amount of Biting-the-Hand Humor). The line seems to have been a death scare/threat to his wife and child that led his supportive wife Beena to finally upbraid him.
- Ironic Echo: Bethany's parents rejected Hasan as their daughter's prom date when he showed up because "we have a lot of family back home in Nebraska, and we’re going to be taking photos, so we don’t think you’d be a good fit." When she messaged him a few years later asking for tickets to a comedy set, he saw an opportunity to exact revenge and took it, writing back, "I would love to give you some tix, but we’re going to be taking a lot of photos tonight, and I don’t think you’d be a good fit."
- Once Done, Never Forgotten: The prom incident was this for both Hasan and Bethany. Hasan was "socially crucified," as he put it, because he had promised to go to prom and didn't tell anyone that Bethany's parents found him too dark. It also made him not date white women for a long time because he didn't know whose family would reject him and reveal their racist side. He also holds it against Bethany for a long time, treating her as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing when she sends him occasional messages on Facebook. Bethany herself admits she was worried she would never get the chance to apologize because what she did was crappy Betrayal by Inaction, and Hasan has every right to hold a grudge.
- Papa Wolf: As a father of two kids, Hasan acknowledged in The King's Jester exactly how far he'd go to protect them.
"I've lost a lot of things in my life. I cannot lose my family."
- At one point, serious concern arose between him and his wife over whether he had a line with his jokes. After an incident of a death scare/threat that endangered his daughter, likely the result of his initial game plan with Patriot Act to go after everyone including powerful dictators, his wife confronted him and told him that she would leave him if he put her kids in danger again. As a result, Hasan ends the special recounting how he came to terms with his line: taking the joke as far as he can, legally, up to the point that it would hurt his family.
- At one point Played for Laughs and exaggerated. Hasan brings up a hedge fund dad named Connor who he knows through his daughter's school several times in the special, at one point detailing a time where Connor bragged to him about his job in strategic acquisitionsnote for Alden Global Capital (going out of his way to refer to it as a "real job" unlike Hasan's profession) and called his daughter a thiefnote . In response, Hasan's next assignment to his producers was to find everything they could about Alden Global Capital, to which they discovered that Connor's boss Randall Smith (the founder of the fund) used the fund's acquisition profits to buy 16 mansions, including one down the street from Jeffrey Epstein. In response to this, Hasan commissioned billboards reading "RANDALL SMITH LOVES PEDOPHILES" to be displayed in every major city that Alden was gutting. He only had them pulled down on the word of his lawyer, and instead opted to do a deep-dive episode on vulture funds and rework the joke so that "Randall Smith ♥ pedophiles" would be presented as a statement that was totally, definitely not true. Mind you, all of this was because one of Smith's employees was rude to him and his daughter at a book fair.
- Replacement Goldfish: Hasan does briefly wonder if Bethany's new Indian boyfriend was some replacement for him and a means to taunt him. It gets subverted; Bethany says she fell in love with him, and this time refused to break up with an Indian boy because her parents disapproved.