Hassan Minhaj: Comedy's golden opportunity in Trump era


Hasan Minhaj of Comedy Central performs at the White House Correspondents" Association dinner in Washington, U.S. April 29, 2017Image copyright
Reuters

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Hassan Minhaj said he would “probably not” have hosted the dinner under Hillary Clinton

Comedians have a new-found energy in the era of Donald Trump, says a rising US comedy star.

Hassan Minhaj hosted the the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April – an event President Trump snubbed.

Speaking to the BBC, Minhaj said there was “something cool” happening in response to Mr Trump’s policies.

He said the political atmosphere was such that it gave him an unexpected opportunity to host the correspondents’ dinner.

Speaking during a Facebook Live Q&A with the BBC, Minhaj said he would “probably not” have been given such an opportunity had Hillary Clinton won last November’s election.

“I think the narrative of the country would have been different,” he said. “I think the collective feeling around who the White House Correspondents’ Association should choose to represent, and be the comedian that night – that narrative would have been different.”

Mr Trump became the first commander-in-chief to skip the dinner since 1981, when then-President Ronald Reagan was recovering from a gunshot wound.

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Media captionCorrespondents’ Dinner joke targets Trump

During his election campaign, Mr Trump said he would establish a register of Muslims and since then, he has attempted but failed to introduce bans on people from seven Muslim-majority nations travelling to the US.

Those moves were met with protests, but Minhaj – a Muslim-American – said the policies had sparked a response among Asian-American and Muslim comedians, adding that “there’s something amazing in the chai right now”.

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“What I think is really cool is there’s different shades of the narrative,” said Minhaj, who appears on The Daily Show on Comedy Central. “People are bringing their own personal perspectives, and everyone’s being unapologetically themselves.”

Minhaj is not the only comedian to have benefited from a Donald Trump presidency – the TV show Saturday Night Live, which has regularly skewered the president and his cabinet, has reported its highest ratings in about 20 years.

Wajahat Ali, an author and New York Times contributor who was also a guest of the Facebook session, said he wanted to thank Mr Trump for helping give comedians a voice.

The policies of the White House had, he said, “awakened slumbering giants, queens and kings, princes and princesses, who had stayed dormant”. He added: “Sometimes it takes a crisis to wake up.”



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