On Sept. 23, The Merriam Theatre in Philadelphia welcomed Hasan Minhaj to perform his new stand-up show: “Before the Storm”.
Hasan Minhaj, most famously known as a senior correspondent on “The Daily Show” and speaker at the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, is an American-Indian Muslim comedian who strives to draw attention to current political events through comedy. His first stand-up show, “Homecoming King,” debuted in 2017 across the United States and on Netflix. Its main focus was on how Minhaj blends his American and Indian identities together and his road to “The Daily Show”.
Hungry for a second dose, fans of Minhaj all around the country have attended “Before the Storm.” In fact, in Philadelphia, a second show had to be added since the first one immediately sold out.
Upon arriving to the show, guests are asked to put their phones on “airplane mode” and lock them inside tiny pouches that would only be unlocked at the end of the show. Later, we would discover that in previous shows, older “aunties and uncles” sitting in the front row recorded Minhaj on their phones, which explained the no cell phone policy.
“Before the Storm” takes a drastically different direction than “Homecoming King.” Instead of sharing funny anecdotes about his childhood, Minhaj introduces ideas of terrorism, the fear of Muslim Americans and the current presidential administration. Throughout the show, he utilizes pieces of data, charts and graphs and news video clips to expand on these ideas.
Minhaj begins his show by telling a story about one of his field work experiences on “The Daily Show”: trying to purchase a gun from a store in Alabama. While there, the seller blatantly expresses that he cannot sell a gun to Minhaj, for fear that he is a member of ISIS. All around the theatre, it is silent. The audience gasps, appalled by the display of ignorance. Meanwhile, Minhaj begins hysterically laughing, stating that he felt flattered that the seller thought a “member of an Indian boyband” could actually be a member of ISIS. Suddenly, the theatre is echoing with the ensuing uproar of laughter.
Minhaj recounts a personal situation in which he has first handedly experienced racism. Rather than only focusing on the negative, he transforms the situation by easing the audience.
Minhaj decides to end the show in an uplifting manner by talking about how he proposed to his wife, Beena. Like most college students, Minhaj decided to turn to the site with a coupon for anything and everything — Groupon — to find the perfect spot to propo se: a sunrise hot air balloon ride on a Wednesday. Finally persuading his wife to wake up at 3 a.m., they drive to an empty field together. Going up hundreds of feet into the sky, they see another couple in a different hot air balloon. Beneath them on the ground, a white sheet unravels, and the words “Jessica, will you marry me” appear. The other couple is engaged. Embarrassed, Minhaj and his wife, who begins to swoon over the other couple’s proposal, unbeknownst to the fact that Minhaj wanted to do the same, return to the ground. He frantically drives her to the nearest breakfast spot—Applebee’s—and proposes there instead.
While the current political climate in the country may be frightening to some, Minhaj introduces these ideas in his stand-up bits, providing both information and comedic relief.
As Minhaj concludes his tour around the country, his Netflix talk show, “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” will air every Sunday beginning October 28, 2018.