The Daily Show is a staple of news satire that’s been around for nearly 20 years. Many great comedians got their start along that road of political humor. Steve Carrell, John Oliver, Steven Colbert, and more broke through to stardom on the Comedy Central series. Hasan Minhaj is a current correspondent who’s making quite a name for himself. Hasan’s bits on The Daily Show lead to him headlining the White House Correspondents’ Dinner this year. Now, Minaj is the star of his first Netflix Comedy Special called Homecoming King.
Hasan takes viewers on a wild ride through his life.
From start to finish, Minaj is telling stories. The comic’s electric stage presence comes through with every word. Like a movie, the special has a running plot through it of the girl who could be called Hasan’s first love. It was in high school, and the girl was going to be Hasan’s “secret” prom date. The special night a secret to two influential people — Hasan’s parents.
Hasan takes viewers on a wild ride through his life. The prom date punctuates different parts with a new lesson for the comedian. Along the way, Hasan uses tweets and graphs on a giant screen behind him as visual aids. Sometimes, social becomes a brilliant punchline, like when Minhaj learns that his one-time prom date, now an adult, is dating another brown Muslim guy.
Perhaps nothing provides such power to this comedy special than Minhaj’s religion. As a Muslim, the comedian repeatedly reminds us of what that life is like, both good and bad. The special is a brilliant guide through a Muslim-American family life littered with many of the same tropes as most families. But the parts alien to non-Muslims are made real by Hasan’s performance.
One word best describes Homecoming King: spellbinding.
Homecoming King is a comedy special that could just as easily be called a one-man play. Hasan is not afraid to let the set becomes deeply emotional, like raw drama. Hasan tells heartbreaking moments of racism and failure. But also finishing stories with a happy ending provided by becoming a better person.
Director Christopher Storer stands out here as well which is rare for a comedy special. But his work accentuates the words of Hasan every step of the way. Sometimes it’s subtle, a close up of Hasan who carries the moment by looking right into the camera. But quick wide shots play as exclamation points to Hasan’s physical antics.
One word best describes Homecoming King: spellbinding. Hasan takes the reigns, and the ride is a vibrant journey through the comedian’s life. The trip includes Hasan’s audition for The Daily Show which was a near disaster.
Hasan is an American who happens to be Muslim who happens to be a nerd who happens to be on a television show. Hasan is also an insightful human who just delivered a comedy special that ranks as one of the best of the year and perhaps even the last few years.