Topic 1 Post

Daily Show

The next ‘Daily Show’ host

When Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah left the Daily Show, both times I suggested Hasan Minhaj as the next host. It was tongue-in-cheek since desis are 1.3% of the US.

That Hasan actually got the offer makes sense re: his career trajectory, but mind-blowing re: pop culture visibility.

The first time I saw his comedy was a YouTube Goatface vid, wasn’t a fan, felt very lightweight.

Was much better as a Daily Show correspondent and in “Homecoming King.”

“Patriot Act” was middling-to-good. There were weeks I skipped because the topics didn’t resonate.

Didn’t like “The King’s Jester” live, his delivery was so over-the-top. But generally rooted for him and enjoyed his movie cameos.

Apparently he inserted himself into the center of political moments Forrest Gump-style. I felt deceived, but would’ve been fine with a “based on true events” disclaimer. Comedy is already mostly fiction.

It’s quite perfect that the theme of “Jester” was Hasan becoming an ego monster addicted to likes, as that’s precisely how and why he embellished. The show was a confession.

The trouble, IMO, is Minhaj is mainly a lightweight entertainer who stumbled on meaty personal stories with a political twist. They resonate because they link with many people’s shared experience of racism and religious discrimination.

It’s like if Rushdie wrote “Midnight’s Children” as a memoir, inserted his baby self directly in the midst of Partition, but it was mostly fiction.

Minhaj is using the umami of nonfiction to add flavor to his lightweight, people-pleasing comedy without disclosing it as fiction.

IMO the Daily Show dodged a bullet: Trevor Noah was never really interested in US politics, and similarly Minhaj is more interested (as he says) in attention. He’s great in short bits as a correspondent, but has no overarching POV like Stewart.

Chelsea Handler was surprisingly great in her Daily Show stint. Kal Penn tried harder than anyone and was the most substantive, though had less polished delivery.

Roy Wood Jr. is very funny, but like Minhaj more pure comedy than political.

You want someone smart who digs US politics and has a POV: more like Stewart, Oliver, Colbert than Corden, Fallon.

It also has to be someone hungry for shrinking cable distro, as anyone else would just go straight to streaming now. Toward the end, Noah had 70% fewer viewers than Stewart, and a much better fallback option in his stadium shows.