A Review of "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj"

In May of 2017, Hasan Minhaj, the senior correspondent on The Daily Show at the time, displayed his talents as a stand-up comedian with the Netflix comedy special, Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King. Minhaj melted personal experience and commentary about the effects of political climate into a hilarious and potent stew of comedy. His special felt almost like a one man show; the jokes were in long form and were accompanied by images displayed on the large LED screen positioned at the back of the stage. After watching Homecoming King, then watching it again, and then forcing my family to watch it, it was clear to me that Minhaj’s unique format worked incredibly well for him.

The announcement of a new Netflix political comedy with Minhaj as the leading man came last spring. It was finally released on October 28, 2018. Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj successfully combines his style of stand-up comedy with the humorous political comedy he provided for The Daily Show. Each week, a new episode covering a hot button issue in the news is released.  

Unlike the majority of political comedies, Patriot Act does not involve a mock news report, complete with an aesthetically pleasing desk and chair that offers lumbar support. Minhaj never sits over the course of an episode. Instead, he mimics the style of his stand-up comedy. A large screen behind him displays images that support his jokes and the news stories he explains. He moves all over the stage. He uses his entire body and gestures as he engages directly with the live audience. Minhaj excels at removing the barrier between himself and his viewers. He makes every issue feel personal. He is a storyteller, and a good one at that.

Each episode clocks in at around 25 minutes. One prominent news story from the past week is covered and the occasional less serious topic is tacked on in the last few minutes. Over the course of the last few weeks, Minhaj has provided information and insight on stories such as affirmative action lawsuits, the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia, and Amazon’s retail tactics. These are pieces of news that are not easy to gloss over, but Minhaj does not sacrifice detail for the sake of humor. In order to fully understand these current events and their repercussions, serious detail and background information are required. Luckily, as stated earlier, Hasan Minhaj is no stranger to the long form joke. He covers all bases and makes information digestible and entertaining. Even the more serious subjects are made to be funny without coming across as crass.

 

Patriot Act takes a genre we are familiar with and gives it a stylistic twist. By exercising his stand-up chops and extracting himself from behind the desk, Minhaj has set himself apart from other funny guys -- Trevor Noah, John Oliver, and Bill Maher. Laughing and learning are able to successfully cross paths. Hasan Minhaj combines his passion for current issues with a well-structured episode. I cannot wait to see what he teaches us next.

 

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