On a cold and miserable date late last fall, the McMaster Students Union’s Campus Events announced that Hasan Minhaj would be signing off Life After Mac week. With exams around the corner, I, along with hundreds of other students, rejoiced at finally having something to look forward to.
The comedian, actor, host and writer has been a Senior Correspondent on The Daily Show since 2014, but most people recognize him from his viral keynote performance at the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner and his stand-up comedy film, Homecoming King.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan or had never heard of the comedian before, Hasan Minhaj’s life is an inspirational tale of where passion and hard work can take you after university.
You may not share the same school with Minhaj, but you can definitely draw parallels between university experiences. Minhaj also dealt with never-ending midterms and the impending fear of missing them, but his roommate, Dusty the brick-breaking champion, had his back.
“My alarm didn’t go off and [Dusty] was on the bottom bunk. He was like ‘Hasan get up!’ and he karate kicked the top bunk and it snapped in half… I went crashing head-first into tile, which was super painful,” explained Minhaj.
Although Dusty was harsh, Minhaj was grateful.
“But I do owe him, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it to the midterm.” he said.
Minhaj also had the same fears and doubts as many McMaster students. After graduating with a major in Political Science from the University of California, Davis, Minhaj wasn’t sure if he had an employable skill set.
“I think there are always two commodities that you are playing with in life. It’s either time or money.”
Hasan Minhaj, Comedian
He moved back home and found himself working for a tech start-up as his first job out of university. However, Minhaj decided that this job was a way to bankroll his comedy dream, which his heart was set on pursuing full-time.
“I think there is always two commodities that you are playing with in life, it’s either time or money… I would say because you have the commodity of time [in your twenties], don’t worry about the money. Quadruple down on what your passions are, do that internship that pays nothing, go move to that city that’s giving you that phenomenal opportunity,” explained Minhaj.
For Minhaj, this means never giving up on your dreams, even if it means closing doors on certain opportunities that would’ve taken time away from the experiences that encouraged his passion.
In many ways, Minhaj has made it. His critically acclaimed solo show, Homecoming King, is streaming as a comedy special on Netflix and is currently touring nationally in the United States, not to mention he’s been having an incredible experience with The Daily Show.
As I sat across Minhaj in a DBAC locker room, he told me how his favourite thing about Canada is Tim Hortons while a cup of non-Tim Hortons coffee turned cold on the table between us. I wondered why he was about to do a show in our very own Sport Hall as gym-enthusiasts used the elliptical upstairs.
“I’m working on my next show and what’s really exciting for me is that colleges and universities are the perfect intersection of what I think is both culture and education,” explained Minhaj.
“[Not everybody at comedy clubs or gigs] are thinking about some of the subject matter that I’m talking about, [such as] politics, statistics and topical news. Universities are the rare sort of place where both of those worlds meet.”
Minhaj uses comedy as a way to raise awareness about the issues he cares deeply about, as well as investigate and answer the questions that he has been thinking about. He is currently working on his own show, which allows him to explore issues he wasn’t able to dig as deeply into on The Daily Show.
McMaster students got a sneak peak of this new concept as Minhaj intertwined stand-up comedy, statistics, news clips and memes to address political and societal issues such as racism, Islamophobia, immigration reform and the refugee crisis.
Minhaj hopes that his audience are not only entertained, but can also take away important messages and educate one another on the issues that impact our national and international communities.