Recommended: Hasan Minhaj: The King's Jester on Netflix
What's Hasan Minhaj: The King's Jester About?
Comedian Hasan Minhaj shares his thoughts on infertility, fatherhood, and freedom of speech in this follow-up to his award-winning comedy special Homecoming King.
Hasan Minhaj was a senior correspondent for The Daily Show and hosted Patriot Act on Netflix, which focused on social and political commentary. The latter won him a Peabody Award, as did Homecoming King.
Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?
A gifted raconteur, Minhaj uses this special to weave a narrative that connects his rising popularity to his shortcomings as a father and a husband which he is brutally honest about. If Homecoming King called out America and its baked-in bigotry, then The King’s Jester calls out Minhaj’s own search for social clout.
After opening with a story about his own ambivalence toward fatherhood and his struggle to conceive a child with his wife, Minhaj takes a deep dive into his past, examining how comedy has served as both a gift and curse. This is good material, but he really hits his stride when he addresses his motivations for attracting controversy.
Case in point: Netflix removed an episode of his series Patriot Act from its Saudi Arabian platform, because Minhaj’s criticism of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was said to break an anti-cybercrime law in the Middle East. At the time, he shot back in a follow-up episode of Patriot Act: “Of all the Netflix originals, the only show that Saudi Arabia thinks violates Muslim values is the one hosted by a Muslim.”
As laudable as statements like that might be, Minhaj acknowledges his own selfish motivations for fame. He recounts attending The Time 100 gala as an honoree due to the Saudi Arabia controversy, then calling out Jared Kushner on stage because of his friendship with the country’s crown prince. He later gets a taste of his own medicine when his wife astutely observes that he has become addicted to the attention and validation he gets from social media. Minhaj brilliantly exposes the duality of wanting to do good and getting caught up in the hype, or as he coins it “cocaine clout.”
He also tackles free speech in comedy, a highly debated topic given the controversy surrounding Dave Chappelle’s battle with the queer and trans communities over his last few stand-up specials and most recently, comedian Aries Spears’ comments about Lizzo’s weight. For Minhaj, the boundary is clear: “I’m only willing to take the joke as far as I possibly can until it hurts my family.”
Pairs well with