“Homecoming King” Sets High Standards for New Comedians

Netflix’s news special is an insightful and potently funny immigrant story

Hasan Minhaj (Netflix)

By Soun Oeng Entertainment Editor

Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix special “Homecoming King” showcases his talent as a serious rising star comedian, right behind Aziz Ansari.

This is not a surprise given his monumental success within entertainment. In 2014, Minhaj joined the “Daily Show” as a special correspondent and performed at the White House Correspondent’s dinner.

His Netflix special was originally a one man show on Broadway before it later moved to the streaming site as a comedy special.

“Homecoming King” is not just a regular comedic sketch; it’s innovative and award-worthy. Throughout it, Minhaj reflects on his encounters of racism from growing up during the 9/11 attack and being called a “sand n*gger”, to having a prom date bail on him because their parents wanted to avoid racial tensions from bigoted family members.

Yet despite covering such serious issues, Minhaj is able to execute jokes in a light humorous undertone that is personal yet hilariously engaging to deliver a resonating theme of complex bi-cultural identity that ethnic minorities can relate to firsthand.

He addresses generational gaps between immigrant parents and their children, living in a racially charged climate, interracial relationships and the pursuit of the American Dream.

With the help of slideshow effects in the background to accentuate his storytelling and close ups of him acting out various memories, the audience becomes a passenger on his life tour of being an Indian-American. Minhaj’s young handsome appearance and Californian swag is used to his advantage as he references Drake and common hashtags like blessed and yolo to complement his carefully crafted story.

The standup navigates Minhaj’s experiences from adolescence to adulthood. But what distinguishes “Homecoming King” apart from other comedians is how he uses the dynamic between himself and his father in relation to his struggle to understand generational gaps and cultural identities so casually. The show feels like a conversation among friends, and you get the feeling that you’ve known Hasan all your life.

For example, he emphasizes the power of his father’s slap, jokingly calling it a “Guantanamo of the mind” as he described discipline, something anyone could empathize.

What makes the show beautiful is Minhaj’s intimate experiences and vulnerable monologue. He is successful in breaking down the convoluted nature of identity and racism that has the audience recognizing their humanity by the end of his show. When you hear the applause, it is well deserved. With Minhaj’s effortless ability to connect humor and his heart-rending life story, “Homecoming King” sets an extremely high bar for a freshman comedian.