Review: Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King
Hasan Minaj’s Homecoming King that has emerged best comedy special of 2017
Hasan Minaj has been ascending for some time now. He joined The Daily Show as a special correspondent in 2014, launched a one-man off Broadway show called Homecoming King in 2015, and this year, performed at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Now, with his new Netflix special, also called Homecoming King, it’s safe to say Hasan Minaj is having a well-deserved moment.
Homecoming King is a thoroughly intimate and emotional experience that is hard to define; it’s an inspirational talk, comedy routine, confessional, and coming-of-age tale that pushes the boundaries of the format while remaining totally accessible. Clever direction and well-timed visual aids compliment the content wonderfully and with the special filmed in Minhaj’s hometown of Davis, the setting only adds to the intimacy.
Like all great comedians, Minaj finds universality in small, everyday experiences that he makes sure feel extremely personal, and more rooted in pain and confusion – often two prominent themes of the immigrant experience – than audiences are likely accustomed to. Minaj covers the big and loud post-9/11 racism (angry phone calls and property damage) that immigrants of any shade darker than white are only too familiar with but also poignantly highlights the less brass but equally obtuse racism that often accompanies good intention and an above-median income.
This special spends less time being funny than perhaps any special before it, at least intentionally, and it works. In several moments both funny and serious, Miniaj is so honest that it startles. What’s more, the level of comfort and confidence is so high, he’s unafraid to go full minutes without dropping a single joke. After all, developing an understanding of race, family, and identity as a first-generation Indian-American isn’t always hilarious, but Minaj makes sure it is earnest.
In a year ripe with new specials from big names like Amy Schumer, Jerrod Carmichael, Jim Gaffigan, and Bill Burr, and legends Louis CK and Dave Chappelle, it’s Hasan Minaj’s Homecoming King that has emerged best comedy special of 2017. The audacity.