In his first ever standup special The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj has stepped away from the political comedy and satire many might expect of him in favour of a performance that is instead a deeply personal memoir. Originally conceived as one-man off-broadway show, Homecoming King is one of the most incredible debut offerings produced in recent years – an act that is enough to push Minhaj into the lofty heights of some of comedy’s greatest minds.
Homecoming King is a sharp and energetic performance, but what makes it outstanding in its field is the uniquely intimate showmanship with which Minhaj carries the show. Drawing audiences through his childhood and adolescence up to his success in television, this on-stage autobiography touches upon racism, family, love and outsider experiences all while being firmly anchored in a string of distinct anecdotes that enforce a sense of vulnerability and closeness.
In this, Minhaj’s touching and often-painful stories are not played for cheap, self-deprecating laughs. Instead they build upon a beautifully crafted narrative that extends beyond his personal life, forming allegories on some of the most important topics in the United States today.
These running themes are far from passing allusions and observations, however, and are weaved throughout into an amazingly poignant performance that says as much about the context it exists within than it does of the performer himself. Its roots as a one-man theatre piece are sometimes evident, with juxtaposing monologues and stage dressing adding a uniquely un-comedy-special feel. But in adapting into standup Minhaj has transformed his work into something with broad appeal that still retains the incredibly moving elements of its more serious and sensitive iterations.
Put simply, Homecoming King is probably the greatest comedy special ever published by Netflix. A guaranteed delight that perfectly captures a part of today’s zeitgeist and will continue to be enjoyed for years to come.
Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King is available to stream now on Netflix.
(Image: The New York Times)