“There haven’t been many Indian-American comedians to reach Minhaj’s level of fame —and even fewer who openly talk about issues like Islamophobia in their work,” Time wrote. On his new Netflix show, the former “The Daily Show” correspondent “hopes to tackle large social issues like immigration around the world, the rise of conservatism in different countries, sports as a vehicle for political debate and climate change,” Time says.
But Minhaj’s interests are also more wide-ranging than most American comics. His hour-long comedy special “Homecoming King,” which debuted on Netflix in May 2017, won him a Peabody Award.
Minhaj has a particular talent for vacillating between the comic and the serious, a method he employed at the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Minhaj became aware of his natural talent for comedy while competing in speech and debate at his California high school: “If I could make the judges laugh, I would automatically get 10 to 15 points higher on my score card,” he told Time.
Later, as a political science major in college, he realized that standup was basically speech and debate with jokes. He began sneaking out of his parents’ house at night in order to perform sets in San Francisco. Minhaj eventually caught the attention of “The Daily Show.” And the rest as they say is history.
Minhaj plans to bring the narrative style of “Homecoming King” to “Patriot Act,” the report said. “I made it very clear that I don’t want to be sitting behind a desk in front of a city skyline,” he told the publication. “The moment people turned on their screens, they’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s Indian John Oliver.’”
Time notes that, historically, audiences have turned to Netflix for bingeing, not appointment viewing. So instead of tackling weekly headlines, Minhaj will investigate evergreen political topics, like affirmative action.
Rather than focusing on the headline-making lawsuit that alleged Harvard University discriminates against Asian students, Minhaj and his co-writers plan to analyze meritocracy more broadly: who gets what and why, the report said.
“I’m an insider and an outsider at the same time,” he says. “There hasn’t been a show like this because there haven’t been people who look like me in this space.”