I followed Hasan Minhaj’s work from The Daily Show, even before his White House Correspondent’s dinner roast that took his popularity to the next notch. So, when a friend posted on Facebook that Homecoming King special on Netflix is the best show he has seen so far, I signed up for Netflix just to watch this special hoping it would be worth all the hype – and it was!!
The focus of this show is about Hasan’s growing up as a brown kid in a white neighborhood of Davis, California, being in USA during 9/11 as a Muslim/Indian American kid and how he and his family dealt with their identity in pursuit of American Dream. Stand-ups around race is not at all a new topic for comedy – but what makes this show stand out is Hasan’s boyish enthusiasm (his jumping around the stage, big expressive eyes and body language), and the way he used his own life experiences, without much generalization or offense towards any broader group, made it fresh and funny.
His narration is really good, especially the use of pictures and snippets of conversation on slides in the background makes the entire segment much more relatable. It starts from the story of his father meeting his mother, to him meeting his sister for the first time, from his crush in first grade to his high school prom to Pizza Hut commercial, it is all personal and heart-warming with an underlying truth about race and identity in each segment. Quoting Hindi phrases from his conversations with his parents makes it more authentic.
What I found unique in the show is Hasan’s courage to share his very personal experiences, even the times when he was not the ideal brother or son – it is as funny as emotional. When he mentions his father and sister a few times – I was laughing at the jokes but also felt the gratitude and respect he has for them.
It all ends on a happy note though – his parents’ support when he marries a Hindu girl, how his “refugee” sister became the 1% in USA, his first kiss, revenge, forgiveness and his meeting with Jon Stewart while auditioning for Daily Show. Overall, it is an hour of great storytelling and laughter riot.