6 months ago
Comedian Hasan Minhaj will host this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, making it his job to take the president and the fourth estate to task at Washington’s most prestigious annual event.
A tough job during a traditional year, the spotlight on Minhaj burns brighter in the absence of President Trump and his aides, who announced in February that they would not be attending the black-tie affair.
Aware of the tense relationship between the current administration and the press, White House Correspondents’ Association President Jeff Mason says Minhaj is equipped to traverse the delicate tightrope between solemnity and raw humor.
“We were not looking for someone to roast the president in absentia — that’s not fair and it’s not the message we want to get across,” Mason said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “I was looking for somebody who is funny and who is entertaining, because I want the dinner to be entertaining, but who can also speak to the message that the whole dinner is going to speak to: the importance of the free press.”
Though Minhaj certainly has a lower profile than hosts in years past, including Jay Leno, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers, he is a star who’s on the rise. Here are five key facts to know about him before he ascends the dais:
He’s been a Daily Show correspondent since 2014
A first generation Indian-American and a Muslim, Minhaj is a senior correspondent popular for his “cheerfully acerbic takes” on current events, according to the New York Times. Watch one of his most widely-viewed segments below.
He has a one-man show debuting on Netflix this spring
It’s called Homecoming King, and it originally opened off-Broadway in autumn 2015 as a limited engagement at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City. It explores Minhaj’s experiences with interracial love, racism, bullying, and his family’s quest to achieve the “elusive” American Dream. Watch a trailer for the performance below, and read the New York Times review of the performance here.
He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis
Minhaj graduated in 2007, and has since returned to perform Homecoming King at his alma mater, according to the university.
He’s made major headlines with his web series
His viral web series The Truth with Hasan Minhaj has been featured in countless publications, including The Huffington Post, Gawker, and the New York Times. Check out one of his most widely-viewed clips from 2012 below.
He’s made cameos on major T.V. programs
His website notes that Minhaj has made appearances on a variety of television programs, including Arrested Development on Netflix, HBO’s Getting On, and @Midnight on Comedy Central.
—Diana Crandall for RealClearLife