REVIEW: Hasan Minhaj returns to his hometown

Audience members wait inside the Mondavi Center for the show “Homecoming King” to begin.

By Claire Bachand, Staff–

Hasan Minhaj, a Davis High alumni and correspondent on the “Daily Show,” came to Davis on Jan. 27 to perform his one-man comedy show, “Homecoming King,” for both an audience of Davis residents and countless Netflix cameras.

Throughout the 105 minute show, Minhaj used humor to touch on serious topics, namely racism. As an Indian-American Muslim growing up in Davis– a small, mostly white town and having a name that teachers and subs butcher to the extent of “Saddam Husain”– Minhaj felt the effects of racism beginning on the playground at the age of six.

He tells the story of his childhood: how he tried to fit in with “Cody, Cory and Cole,” stand-ins for white boys, and was surprised with a sister and never got the BMX bike he always wanted. Then, he becomes a teenager and he describes his “white princess” and disappointing prom experience.

His detail-oriented show reflects on love, race, family, expectations, religion, acceptance and revenge.

The whole time, Minhaj faces the question “What will people think?” He ponders the place of immigrants in this country: should they accept oppression or fight for equality?

Today, these questions seem more pertinent than ever.

So, where’s the humor?

As Minhaj grows from a ghostbusting “brown” kid to a “psycho stalker” to the “cure for racism,” he seems relatable. The dumb things he says and does seem universal.

The fact that he’s from Davis amplifies this. When he makes jokes about the PTA and DJUSD, they ring too true.

He is charismatic and lively on the stage; one moment he’s presenting on the differences between Hindu and Muslim culture, while the next he is flailing on a stool riding a bike.

Still, this show doesn’t exactly make one laugh-so-hard-it-hurts. There are some hilarious moments, but there are also sad ones and sweet ones that trigger more “awws” than laughs.

Minhaj successfully gets his audience emotionally involved in his stories– showing childhood pictures, wedding photos and feisty Facebook messages– and through this, he is able to open up the world of a “brown” boy to his audience. For some, this was shocking. For others, it was familiar.

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