On Friday February 5th, the Associated Student Programs Board (ASPB), Middle Eastern Student Center (MESC) and Asian Pacific Student Programs (APSP) organized “Chai Chat with Hasan Minhaj”. Minhaj is a well-known comedian, writer, actor and political commentator. He is best known for his Netflix political comedy show, “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj”, his comedy film, “Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King” and his stint as a senior correspondent on “The Daily Show”.
Ali Saadat, a former UCR, was the moderator of this event. The night started with Saadat asking Minhaj a variety of questions. One topic that came up was Minhaj’s participation in the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in 2017. Minhaj revealed that when he received the invitation he “thought it was a stunt, but then [he] I thought about it ”and realized that“ this is the job that many immigrants work hard for ”. He attended the event with his parents, two Muslims who immigrated to the United States from India before Minhaj was born. Although her mother initially considered wearing something more American, Minhaj convinced her to wear a sari, an elaborate garment traditionally worn by South Asian women.
Minhaj is proud of his heritage and uses his experience to help educate others. One of the causes Minhaj has spoken a lot about is student debt. During the virtual chat, Minhaj advised the students to “take an income-based repayment plan”. Later, when asked about his experience with stage fright, he encouraged the students to “look into [their] strengths, try to get into things that [they] know [they’re] already good at. He said: “The more you stand up in front of an audience, the more comfortable you feel.”
To conclude his interview with Saadat, Minhaj revealed some of his latest projects that fans can expect. Minhaj has said he will appear in the second season of “The Morning Show,” a television series on Apple TV + starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspon. He is also working on a sequel to “Homecoming King”.
The discussion then shifted to the Student Q&A portion, where students submitted questions via the Zoom Q&A feature. Kirsten Lambincio asked, “Would you ever run for government office? Minhaj replied that he “would hate to run for office and be locked in a corner.” He believed that, unfortunately, politicians must serve their party first, their re-election second, and their constituents last. He said it prevents politicians from representing the truth.
Aram Afghajanian asked Minhaj what inspired him to mix political commentary and comedy. This mixture is most noticeable on his show “Patriot Act”. Minhaj replied that “a huge point of inspiration is that people would be willing to watch this” and that he has already “kind of introduced the visualization style with ‘Homecoming King'”.
The conversation quickly turned to the topic of celebrity relationships in Minhaj. In response to Neha Saxena’s question about the “coolest” celebrity Minhaj has met, Minhaj said it was Nicki Minaj. Then Pari Asif asked which famous friends from Minhaj he would go to college with, and Minhaj replied that it would be John Mullaney because “John has always been my big brother”.
During the pandemic, Minhaj’s wife Beena Patel gave birth to their second child. Simrithi Sethupathi asked, “How was being a parent during the pandemic?” Minhaj expressed his enthusiasm for the birth of his new son. He also remembers all the time he spent with his daughter during his quarantine. He said: “Me and my daughter have become very close.” He said, “This year I couldn’t tour, I couldn’t go out,” but that he was happy to be more with his family.
The evening was full of fun and informative questions. All of the students who were chosen to ask questions couldn’t contain their excitement when they introduced Minhaj to their roommates or parents. Some students even asked to take pictures or videos of the experiment. Students can keep abreast of future events by visiting the ASPB Instagram page. Their next event, “Spicez it up with Nick DiGiovanni”, will take place on February 12th.