Hasan Minhaj (born September 23, 1985) is an American comedian and actor. He is currently a senior correspondent on The Daily Show, which he joined in 2014. Minhaj was the featured speaker at the 2017 White House Correspondents' Dinner. His first stand-up comedy special, Homecoming King, debuted on Netflix on May 23, 2017, and received positive reviews from critics.
Early life and family
Minhaj comes from a Muslim family originally from Aligarh and Seohara, Bijnor Uttar Pradesh, India. His parents, Najme and Seema (née Usmani), immigrated to Davis, California, where Minhaj was born and raised. After his birth, he and his father, a chemist, remained in the United States. His mother returned to India for eight years to complete medical school, visiting the U.S. after three years to give birth to his sister in 1989. Hasan did not know he had a sister until he was eight when his mother and sister returned permanently from India. In addition to English, he is fluent in Hindi. His sister, Ayesha Minhaj, is an attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Minhaj attended the University of California, Davis, where he majored in political science. There, he became interested in comedy after seeing Chris Rock's Never Scared, the first stand-up special he watched. He began traveling to San Francisco to perform. In 2008, he won Wild 94.9's "Best Comic Standing" competition, which resulted in his working as an opening act for Katt Williams, Pablo Francisco, and Gabriel Iglesias. He also worked part-time for the website Ning, an experience he used to write comedy. Minhaj lists Kevin Shea, W. Kamau Bell, and Arj Barker as inspirations.
In 2009, Minhaj moved to Los Angeles to perform on NBC's Stand-up for Diversity, on which he was a finalist. In 2011, he was recurring on the TV sitcom State of Georgia and starred in various roles on the MTV hidden camera show Disaster Date. Through posting on YouTube, he was cast on Failosophy. In 2013, Minhaj appeared in guest roles on Arrested Development and Getting On. He hosted Stand Up Planet in 2013 and a web series, The Truth with Hasan Minhaj, in 2014. In 2014, he voiced Rabi Ray Rana in the video game Far Cry 4.
On November 19, 2014, Minhaj joined The Daily Show as a correspondent, the last one hired by then-host Jon Stewart. Minhaj was asked to come in for an audition with new material after he sent in a tape of him performing an idea for a Daily Show segment, but he initially panicked as he had no other material prepared. The Friday before Minhaj's audition, Ben Affleck and Bill Maher got into a heated exchange about Islam on Maher's show, and Minhaj used this for a new sketch he called "Batman vs. Bill Maher."
On June 18, 2016, Minhaj performed a set as the host of the annual Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner. The set gained attention for his condemnation of the United States Congress' inaction in passing gun control legislation.
On April 29, 2017, Minhaj was the featured speaker at the 2017 White House Correspondents' Dinner, where he took on the traditional role of roasting Washington, D.C. society, national politics, current events, the current president, the Washington press corps, and the American media. He criticized U.S. President Donald Trump, who was boycotting the dinner, calling him the "liar in chief," and reminded the press to do their job:
We are here to talk about the truth. It is 2017, and we are living in the golden age of lying. Now's the time to be a liar, and Donald Trump is liar in chief. And remember, you guys are public enemy no. 1. You are his biggest enemy. Journalists, ISIS, normal-length ties. And somehow, you're the bad guys. That's why you gotta keep your foot on the gas.
Minhaj's one-man show, Homecoming King, debuted Off-Broadway in October 2015. The show featured a central theme of the immigrant experience in the United States today, illustrated with stories from Minhaj's life as a first-generation Indian-American Muslim. He later turned the show into his first stand-up special, Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King, which premiered on Netflix on May 23, 2017. The special was filmed at the Mondavi Center at Minhaj's alma mater, UC Davis, in January 2017 and won a television Peabody Award. Minhaj will host his own weekly talk-show on Netflix.
In January 2015, Minhaj married Beena Patel, whom he had met in college at UC Davis. Beena received a Doctor of Public Health in 2013 and since has worked with homeless patients and holds the position of Management Consultant for MedAmerica. Patel is from a Hindu family, which he discussed in his comedy special, Homecoming King. They live in New York City. On April 22, 2018, the couple welcomed their first child, a baby girl.