Hasan Minhaj displayed his masterful ability to evoke emotions and comedy, landing jokes about messing with hedge fund managers, sucking boogers out of his daughter’s nose with a straw and his infertility problems during his UB Comedy Series performance at Alumni Arena last Saturday.
Minhaj hosted the 19th annual Comedy Series, the first in-person Comedy Series show since John Mulaney’s 2019 set held at the Center for the Arts. With a routine ranging from Minhaj’s “broken balls” to an unreleased “Patriot Act” scene that he said could’ve resulted in his murder for mocking Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Minhaj’s performance displayed the witty humor, heartfelt directness and bold execution that has made him such a comedic success.
Minhaj is best known for hosting his Netflix original six-season series “Patriot Act,” which Netflix canceled in 2020. He also was the senior correspondent for The Daily Show on Comedy Central, and a featured speaker at the 2017 White House correspondent dinner. Time Magazine named him as one of its 100 most influential people in the world in 2019.
More than 1,800 tickets were reserved for the event, according to one of the UB event staff members who manned the event. In 2019, 3,496 tickets were reserved for the Comedy Series when Mulaney hosted two shows.
The SA announced that Minhaj would host the Comedy Series on May 2, less than a week before he was scheduled to take the stage.
“Holy s—t, I’m in Buffalo,” Minhaj said as he made his entrance, before coming after several other SUNY institutions. “F—k Buffalo State, they’re not going to invite me. F—k all the other SUNYs.”
The crowd roared in approval.
After establishing his presence on stage, Minhaj discussed his time as the host of “Patriot Act,” including one episode that came “from a petty place.”
As Minhaj tells it, it all began when he took his daughter to school photo day and she removed her mask to reveal a face full of boogers. Another parent, Connor, reacted with a single word: “Yuck.”
Minhaj says he promptly grabbed a straw, put it to her face and sucked all the boogers off. Acting out the story on stage with an imaginary straw in hand. Audience members cringed, but many were still smiling.
The tension between Minhaj and Connor persisted, especially as Connor continued bragging about working at Alden Global Capital, a large hedge fund.
“Tell me everything you know about Alden Capital,” Minhaj asked his staff from “Patriot Act,” motivated by his irritation with Connor.
The hedge fund became the primary focus of a “Patriot Act” episode entitled “Why the News Industry is Dying.” Alden Global Capital has bought over 200 newspapers and downsized their staffs to turn larger profits, according to The New York Times.
Minhaj also purchased four billboards throughout the country which read, “Randall Smith loves pedophiles,” referencing Alden-founder Smith’s purchase of a mansion in Palm Beach, FL, located just blocks from a mansion owned by Jeffrey Epstein.
Minhaj also addressed the removal of Confederate statues, arguing the statues could stay up since the Confederacy was weak.
“[The Confederacy was] a bunch of losers,” Minhaj said. “The Confederacy only lasted four years and three months. Jersey Shore lasted six seasons.”
The crowd laughed extensively at the criticism.
But the most vulnerable moments of the set came when Minhaj detailed his struggles with fertility and having children. His wife delivered their second child during the pandemic, but that birth came after years of struggle.
“‘You can’t have kids ever,’” Minhaj said his doctor told him after a prostate examination. Minhaj’s vulnerability earned sobering silence from the audience, but he maintained his comedic tone with jokes.
After Minhaj finished his set, SA President Nicholas Singh hosted a Q&A with questions crowd-sourced from students. Questions ranged from his thoughts on pineapple on pizza to one piece of advice he would give a graduating college student.
Minhaj was asked the question of what joke got him in the most trouble.
“Besides messing with the Saudis,” Minhaj responded, before detailing how he worked on an unreleased episode of “Patriot Act” where he mocked the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
In 2018, “Patriot Act” aired the episode entitled “Saudi Arabia” in wake of the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose death has been speculated to have been ordered by the Saudi Arabian royal family, according to BBC. In the episode, Minhaj discussed how Salman could have ordered the death of Khashoggi to protect his reputation and how the Crown Prince has a career track of violent corruption. The episode gained traction online, and the Saudi Arabian government reportedly told Netflix that the episode breached their anti-cybercrime law.
Minhaj says he taped a reaction piece a week later where he mocked Salman again.
“I want to give a shoutout to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince. I think I gave you one of the things our generation desires the most: clout,” Minhaj recalled saying in the episode. Speaking on how the popularity of the “Saudi Arabia” episode has contributed to the Crown Prince’s fame.
“Hearing him, seeing him, talking to him kind of gave me goosebumps,” Shantu Barua, a junior mechanical engineering major who was one of five students selected to meet Minhaj during a Meet and Greet following the show, said. “I feel like meeting him accomplished me as a person.”
“It was a great event,” Minhaj told The Spectrum after the show. He said the event was “well-facilitated” and is “thankful” that UB hosted it.
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