Hasan Minhaj’s Homecoming King Tackles Heartbreak, Family, and September 12th
Most of us are probably familiar with Hasan Minhaj from The Daily Show, and more recently, his amazing take-downs from calling out Congress at the RTCA dinner last year to his hosting of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner that Donald Trump decided to skip. In his stand-up show Homecoming King that’s out on Netflix now, Minhaj opens up about his upbringing in Davis, California, his relationship with his immigrant parents, and his comedic journey to the The Daily Show.
It’s a show that will break your heart and then make you laugh your head off. I first saw the show when Minhaj was touring, pre-election, and re-watching the show it’s just as, if not more, funny and inspiring as it was then. The story begins with his parent’s marriage and journey to California, and Minhaj having to live with just his father as his mother goes to med school in India. The comedian refers to his surroundings as a “bunch of Ryan Lochtes” as he and his father are basically the only brown people there.
The visa comes through after 8 years, and his mother returns with his sister Ayesha, whom Minhaj had no idea existed until then. “Immigrants love secrets,” he says. Minhaj goes through the many details of an India-Muslim-American upbringing, going between jokes about what the show The Slap looks like to immigrant kids to really heartbreaking and thoughtful reflections on that generational difference.
In one of the most intense accounts, Minhaj talks openly about a hate crime his family experienced on September 12th where men called the house with threats and slurs, then wrecked their Camry (the preferred immigrant car). When the two go out, Minhaj is furious while his dad silently picks up glass and tells his son “that’s the price we pay for being here.” The relationship between Minhaj and his parents is a huge part of the stand-up, exploring the different layers of racism they’ve experienced and the different ways we confront it—when do you keep your head down and when do you fight?
The show goes through these many heavy questions and situations that people of color in American have to navigate, and Minhaj’s perspective is both insightful and laugh out loud funny. The emotional tones of the stand-up are amazingly balanced with handy visual aids (like a powerpoint about the difference between Muslims and Hindus) and he never misses an opportunity for a joke at his own expense, whether it’s about Pizza Hut commercials, older siblings, or parental stoicism. I also always appreciate when a recorded stand-up takes advantage of the medium, and slow zoom-ins on Minhaj’s face during tense moments are particularly powerful.
Also at the center of the stand-up is a story about Minhaj’s first big heartbreak in high school, which I won’t spoil too much because it is truly an epic full of twists and turns, AOL messaging and AP Calculus. Watch the show with a date and see if they laugh—if they don’t they are racist (joking, kinda).
Have you seen Homecoming King? What did you think about it?
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