Hasan Minhaj excells in “Patriot Act”


Hasan Minhaj has a new gig- and this time, it’s his own.

   The 33-year old comedian premiered his weekly comedy show, Patriot Act, on Netflix, and it is nothing short of Minhaj’s usual hilarious work. The show focuses on a new topic or issue every week. So far, these have included Affirmative Action and Saudi Arabia, among many others.

   While similar to his work as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in its unabashed truthfulness about controversial issues balanced with lighthearted humor, the show takes a role of its own, and Hasan takes center stage. Minhaj is unafraid of audience engagement, clearly a veteran to stand-up comedy, and effortlessly cracks light hearted jokes about his admittedly heavy topics.

   The Netflix special had been long anticipated by devoted fans of his Netflix comedy special, Homecoming King, which is now known as gospel and is refreshingly relatable to first-generation immigrant children. In the special and in his new series, Minhaj pairs his skilled storytelling of the experience of growing up in the United States with just enough humor to laugh off the stuff that is hard to swallow.

   Patriot Act is also reminiscent of Homecoming King in that Minhaj does not conform to the regular current event comedy set up- that is, sitting behind a desk and humorously enumerating the events of the day. Rather, Minhaj puts his own twist on it, standing in front of a series of screens that show graphics, videos, and photos that further support his verbal points. The show does not seem too rehearsed, as TV comedy often does. Instead, it gives the impression that we as viewers are watching Hasan Minhaj perform stand-up comedy, and are sitting in the live audience.

   The series also takes a page out of John Oliver’s book, covering one subject in the span of 20-30 minutes with little to no introduction rather than dividing the time to accommodate discussion about a variety of topics, much like the style of the HBO’s hit, Last Week Tonight. The episodes feel perfectly timed and, much to the relief of many, are not tied to one another, meaning that one can watch them out of order without feeling an abnormal sense of guilt. The timeliness of the episodes and their strong relationship to current events are all the more reason for viewers to keep up with the weekly episodes, and will likely keep Minhaj around for a while.

   But perhaps Patriot Act’s greatest virtue is not its timeliness or its brevity, but rather the wit and singular focus of its host. Hasan Minhaj makes succinct points and is sure not to confuse and distract viewers with unnecessary statistics and grandiose visuals.

  Minhaj provides a clear, concise perspective- and one that is relatable to a minority- Asian Americans -who feel like they have never had a comedian whose humor is geared specifically toward them. Because of Minhaj’s experiences as a son of immigrants and the unique perspective he provides about being a Muslim in America, he provides a voice that his white counterparts cannot.

   Patriot Act provides a perfect balance of Minhaj’s humor, which regular viewers know so well, with an intelligent discussion about current events-many of which involve his own community- making for a Netflix series that will hopefully stick around.