Hasan Minhaj Review: The American Immigrant Narrative

Hasan Minhaj, a Senior Correspondent of The Daily Show, performed his comedy piece “Homecoming King” at the Mondavi Center last Friday. Although Hasan had the crowd howling with laughter 80% of the time, his set moved through emotions like a wave: laughter then tears, hopelessness then hopefulness, and back to laughter.

Hasan had an incredible way of integrating themes of the American immigrant experience and struggles within the Indian-American identity into the framework of his set. His focus was on the experiences of racial minorities immigrating into the states (particularly his family’s) and navigating through an unfamiliar culture.

He simultaneously personalized his family's immigrant experience as something unique to himself while also making his story relatable with the experience of all different types of American immigrants. His performance couldn't have been more perfectly timed or relevant.

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Amidst the political turmoil and current state of refugee immigration, Hasan's show told an extremely important story guaranteed to have left resonating thoughts in all who were able to hear him speak.

He began his piece by retelling childhood memories, joking about how his father's strict and seemingly emotionless demeanor never allowed him to have a birthday party. Generational and cultural gaps between Hasan and his parents sparked many opportunities for Hasan to reflect on his identity growing up Indian-American. While all Hasan wanted to do was take a "white girl" to his high school prom, he was restricted by some of the different social and cultural values his family held.

Hasan talked about his growth in high school, his family's experiences during 9/11 and the abrupt change in social opinion toward Muslim-Americans, the struggles he faced trying to establish a connection with his parents, and his professional journey to becoming a comedian on The Daily Show.

Hasan left his audience with a few profoundly impactful messages about forgiveness, acceptance and love. He talked about how he struggled with accepting instances of racial micro-aggressions that occurred in his childhood.

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Hasan indicated that the formation of a close and deep connection with family is one of the most important experiences for first-generation Americans. He also talked about the perseverance, hard work and hope that led him to achieve his professional and personal goals. But most importantly, Hasan emphasized the importance of love and understanding of the immigrant narrative in America.

If you were unable to attend Hasan's show, keep an eye out for his performance at Mondavi coming soon to a Netflix account near you!

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