Kumail Nanjiani hosted Saturday Night Live, performing a monologue that drew on his stand-up comedy strengths and included among its topics Islamophobia, racism, his film The Big Sick, Pakistan, India, and Sikhs.
After comparing the rise of Islamophobia to the return of Will & Grace, addressing a claim that the Quran says woman shouldn’t drive cars, and joking about Sikhs being perceived as Muslim, he also encouraged racists to step up their game.
“Here’s my problem with most racism: It’s the inaccuracy. That’s what bugs me. I’m like ‘Do the research! Put in the work! You will see the benefits.'”
For the full effect of his comedic critique of racism’s ignorance, watch the video of Nanjiani’s complete monologue embedded below, and check out the video clips of his sketches on the show. He hits the mark with his roles as an infuriating hotel clerk (“Hotel Check In”), a less-sympathetic-by-the-second game show contestant (“Bank Breakers”), and a call center employee who has a special friendship with First Lady Melania Trump (“Customer Service”).
Nanjiani is the show’s second-ever South Asian American host after Aziz Ansari, and the fourth Asian host in its history — Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan hosted in 2000. Will it be another 16-17 years before another couple of Asian actors host the show? I sure hope not.
There are too many funny and talented Asian actors, including South Asians, who should be available to host sooner — among them the third-highest paid TV actress, Mindy Kaling. Also, having South Asian Muslim comics like Aziz Ansari, Kumail Nanjiani and Hasan Minhaj stand up on stage and cut down Islamophobia and racism with humor has made for some of TV’s most powerful and sharpest social commentary.
Perhaps Nimesh Patel, who wrote for the White House Correspondents Dinner featuring Hasan Minhaj, and recently joined SNL’s writing staff, will help keep that sharp social commentary flowing this season. Adding regular cast members to upcoming seasons who are Asian would help too! As Vanity Fair mentions in its article on Patel and other new SNL hires, “it would help to have regular representation in front of the camera.”