Hasan Minhaj is a man of many talents.
For anyone who didn’t have the joy of tuning each week into Patriot Act, the Peabody-winning series that allowed the Daily Show alum to flex his political savviness alongside his comedic sensibilities, the cycle tended to go a little something like this. Every weekend, Minhaj would dive into a new topic, from Saudi Arabia to immigration, student loans, and Big Oil, and unpack the subject in an accessible and entertaining half hour. Some people might get mad, or make a fuss online; Minhaj would then return the next week, often doubling down or providing callbacks to previous episodes.
There’s a certain fearlessness to much of Minhaj’s work, and it’s this very fearlessness that sometimes gets him into trouble, too. This idea is one of the balances explored in his latest comedy special, The King’s Jester, his follow-up to 2017’s wonderful Homecoming King. Over the course of an hour in Brooklyn, Minhaj, now a father of two, bares it all for a rapt audience, digging into experiences around infertility, ego, and a style of comedy that requires wielding satire and sincerity in equal measure.
“It starts with thoughts, ideas, and stories I’d be too embarrassed to share in public,” Minhaj tells Consequence over Zoom, ahead of the special’s Netflix release. “It’ll start as an hour and a half or two hour show, and it’ll feel like comedic emotional vomit.”
Eventually, though, through working with folks like The King’s Jester director Prashanth Venkataramanujam and taking cues from audiences across the country, that comedic emotional vomit starts to take shape. Anyone that caught this show on tour can confirm that while Minhaj has the ability to make his work feel conversational, any set with his name on it will probably include quite a few moving parts. By design, his self-described “Power-Point comedy” requires sharp attention to detail and a healthy heaping of rehearsals.
Ultimately, The King’s Jester is an incredibly honest hour of comedy that sees Minhaj dig into mistakes and failures both personal and professional. If Homecoming King was his introduction to the world, The King’s Jester is a look into a more established voice, and a figure that sometimes flies too close to the sun — thankfully, though, Minhaj is someone who knows to turn around when the heat is too strong, and returned to earth before the wax could melt entirely from his wings.