Arts & Theater

Hasan Minhaj of ‘Daily Show’ back in Davis for Netflix special

Hasan Minhaj, a graduate of Davis Senior High School, will record a Netflix special Friday at the Mondavi Center.
Hasan Minhaj, a graduate of Davis Senior High School, will record a Netflix special Friday at the Mondavi Center. Associated Press file

Humorist and “Daily Show” correspondent Hasan Minhaj has performed his one-man show “Homecoming King” off-Broadway and in several North American cities. On Friday, Jan. 27, he will come home with the show to Davis, the town in which much of its material takes place.

A graduate of Davis Senior High School, Minhaj, 31, will perform two shows at the Mondavi Center before sold-out crowds and Netflix’s cameras. Netflix will record the show, which recounts Minhaj’s experiences growing up in Davis as a self-described “brown kid” (he is a first-generation Indian American, and Muslim).

In the meantime, here are five things to know about this up-and-coming talent:

1. Minhaj was never homecoming king at Davis High. But according to “Homecoming” reviews, a story involving Minhaj’s hope to attend his high school prom with a girl he called “my white princess” – and an ensuing act of bigotry – factors strongly in the stage show.

Minhaj told an alternately funny and poignant version of this story – it included his calculus teacher insisting his nerd students go to the prom and thus have a life outside the classroom – in a performance for the storytelling nonprofit the Moth.

2. Minhaj came home in 2015 to give a commencement address at Davis High’s graduation. During his speech, he recalled trying out, unsuccessfully, for the basketball team as a high school senior. One drill during tryouts was called “fight through the pick,” during which he went up against a much larger player.

Later, that player told Minhaj that he had urinated in the brand-new Penny Hardaway sneakers Minhaj had left behind in the locker room. But Minhaj fought through the bullying, he told the Davis High graduates, and the disappointment of not making the team. “Never stop fighting through the pick,” he urged the graduates. (In a 2010 magazine interview, Minhaj told a different version of the wet-sneakers tale. In this version, it happened in eighth grade).

3. He once worked at Office Max in Davis.

4. He became the last “Daily Show” correspondent hired by longtime host Jon Stewart, in 2014. On Nov. 9, the day after the 2016 presidential election, Minhaj told Stewart’s “Daily Show” successor Trevor Noah that he was fearful of a Donald Trump presidency, and referenced then-candidate Trump’s call, in 2015, to ban all Muslim people from entering the United States.

“I have spent the past 12 hours refreshing the Canadian immigration website, which keeps crashing,” Minhaj told Noah and the “Daily Show” audience. “So I am panicking,” Minhaj added, while reaching to touch his forehead. “Because melanin doesn’t rub off.”

5. Early reviews of “Homecoming King” were not especially kind. “Mr. Minhaj’s rambling one-man show … has enjoyable moments but lacks the arc and insight that turns stories told among friends into theater,” Neil Genzlinger wrote in the New York Times during the show’s off-Broadway run.

Frank Scheck, of the Hollywood Reporter, wrote that while Hasan was “charismatic, engaging, and to quote one female audience member, ‘cute,’ he’s failed to shape his reminiscences into fully compelling theater.”

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