Hasan Minhaj was on point as the guest entertainer at the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. He brought incisive comedic commentary to the proceedings, and shared his perspective as a South Asian American Muslim. Minhaj has honed his style of comedy on The Daily Show, as well as in what was effectively a dry-run for the WHCD — the 2016 Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner, where he told off Congress, the media, and the NRA.
While taking aim at the media, in addition to the President and the White House press secretary, Minhaj also kept things real, with a focus on the values of free speech in his comments (emphasis mine):
Only in America can a first-generation Indian-American Muslim kid get on the stage and make fun of the President, the orange man behind the Muslim ban. It is a sign to the rest of the world that this tradition, that even the President is not beyond the reach of the First Amendment. But the President did not show up, because Donald Trump does not care about free speech. The man who tweets everything that enters his head, refuses to acknowledge the amendment that allows him to do it.
Watch the video of his complete remarks (around 25 minutes long) at the end of this post, after a look at some of the highlights of his WHCAD appearance. While some media coverage of Minhaj’s remarks didn’t mention him by name, this comedian is definitely making a name for himself with his TV comedy work and his one-man show Homecoming King, which debuts on Netflix May 23.
1. Gallows Humor
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the series finale of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. My name is Hasan Minhaj, or as I’ll be known in a few weeks: #830287.”
2. The Re-Birth of A Joke
“Who would have thought that with everything going on in the country right now that a Muslim would be on this stage for the ninth year in a row, baby?”
Hasan Minhaj, referencing Obama birther attacks, jokes that a Muslim has been at WHCD “9 years in a row, baby!” — Marina Fang (@marinafang) April 30, 2017
“I would say it is an honor to be here, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one wanted to do this, so of course it lands in the hands of an immigrant.” Minhaj’s family immigrated to Davis, California, shortly before he was born, technically making him either an in-utero immigrant or native born, but when you’re brown and have a “different” name that can be enough to make you a perpetual immigrant in the eyes of other Americans.
4. President Vlad
“We gotta address the elephant that’s not in the room. The leader of our country is not here, and that’s because he lives in Moscow. It is a very long flight.”
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 30, 2017
5. Roasting The Media
On Comedy Central: “It’s basically an internship for Netflix.”
On HuffPost: “…there’s a distorted version of you out there, you know, Taco Bell for Mexican culture, Panda Express for Chinese culture, Huffington Post for journalism.”
On MSNBC: “Now I have a lot more MSNBC jokes, I don’t want to ramble on or I may get a show there.”
On USA Today: “What happens when the coupon section takes over the newspaper. Is this an article about global warming or $.50 off Tide? Either way the pictures are so pretty.”
On Fox News: “I know some of you are wondering, Hasan, how do you know so much about Fox News? I like to as a Muslim watch Fox news and turn my brain off and watch strangers insult my heritage.”
On CNN: “CNN should be called ‘Wait a second, stop yelling at each other with Don Lemon.'”
6. You’re The Minority Now
In a surreal moment that had minority kids across America flashing back to “gotta be twice as good” lectures from parents, Minhaj shared with the audience (whom he referred to as “super white”) some of his experience from three decades as a minority.
“…you are how the president gets his news. Not from advisers, not from experts, not from intelligence agencies — you guys. That is why you gotta be on your A game, you gotta be twice as good, you can’t make any mistakes, because when one of you messes up, he will blame your entire group. And now you know what it feels like to be a minority.”
“…as a minority, everyone is going to expect you to be a mouthpiece for the entire group. I hate to say it, but somewhere right now all of you are being represented by Geraldo Rivera.”
“…then when you actually manage to do great work you get the most condescending line. Hey, you are actually one of the good ones. Then you have to smile and say thank you. That kind of sucks, doesn’t it?”
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