Granted, this post is not about a film or a tv show. But Netflix’ comedy special Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King tells a story that is just as captivating and relevant as the best fictional programmes out there. It’s gonna make you laugh, it might make you cry, it’s guaranteed to move you endlessly…
For Fans of: Master of None, The Mindy Project, Fresh off the Boat, The Daily Show.
To be honest, I don’t usually get excited about comedy specials on Netflix. But when they alerted me that they had recently added a Hasan Minhaj special, I was buzzing about it.
I’m a huge fan of Hasan’s work on the Daily Show. In fact, he is the only correspondent who’s ever made me tear up, when he gave a very personal response to President Trump’s proposed travel ban for muslims. Hasan, who is a muslim of Indian descent, has always drawn on his immigrant background for his comedy. But since the dawn of Donald Trump’s presidency, the guy has been on fire – which deservedly earned him the prestigious job of hosting this year’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner.
His Netflix special, then, takes you on a 72 minute journey of struggle and strife, of bullying and rejection, of heartbreak and forgiveness. His is a quintessentially immigrant tale, told in a manner that is deeply personal and self-aware, but also charmingly cocky at times, for instance when he starts talking about his fling with a classmate from high school.
Homecoming King is incredibly well written, which isn’t to say that it is laugh-out-loud hilarious all the way through. Because much like his Daily Show boss Trevor Noah, Hasan dares to delve into chapters of his life that are difficult to hear about: one that stands out in particular is his frightening account of the death threats and vandalism his family experienced after 9/11, another is the unexpected and frankly aggravating turn that his fling with classmate Bethany takes.
But having honed his skill on a comedy show whose unique selling point is a satirical reworking of 24 hour news networks, Hasan has perfect comedic timing. Thus, he knows just how to guide you through the rough spots in a way that allows you to feel the emotional impact of the story without dwelling on the sad aspects of it.
Similarly, Hasan acknowledges the impact these awful events have had on his life, but refuses to let them define him. He even tries to forgive Bethany for breaking his heart which leads to wonderfully cathartic moment at the end of the show when he recounts how the two of them briefly reunited as adults. As they’re about to go their separate ways, she tells him: “I’ll always be rooting for you.” And trust me when I say: After watching his Netflix special, you will be, too.
Where can I watch? Netflix.
Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King: Written, produced and performed by Hasan Minhaj (The Daily Show); running-time 1h 12mins.