Hassan Minhaj asked the question himself when he hosted the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner Saturday night: “Who would have thought, with everything going on in the country right now, that a Muslim would be standing on this stage?”
Even with the typical guest of honor noticeably absent, “The Daily Show” senior correspondent was a notable pick for the event — the first Muslim and first South Asian American to headline the annual Washington roast.
It took him just 30 seconds into his 25-minute set to bring up his religion.
Minhaj pulled from a comedy repertoire built on his experience as a member of a marginalized minority in America, from racist bullying in high school to recent hate crimes against Muslims.
Over the past few months, the 31-year-old has watched the Trump administration reshape the news media that his show comments on. Events have intensified his brand of socially conscious comedy and affected his own immigrant family. After the election, Minhaj told viewers that his mother was afraid that the ban on Muslims that Trump proposed during the campaign would keep her from returning to the country.
The comedian, who considers himself an “angry optimist,” voiced both frustration and honor on behalf of his faith during Saturday’s speech. “As a Muslim, I like to watch Fox News for the same reason I like to play ‘Call of Duty.’ Sometimes, I like to turn my brain off and watch strangers insult my family and my heritage,” he jabbed.
At the end of the night, he said, “Only in America can a first-generation Indian Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the president.”