Review: Hasan Minhaj immerses the audience in satire and sincerity in “The King’s Jester”
Review: Hasan Minhaj won the Landmark Theatre crowd in "The King's Jester"
When Hasan Minhaj took the stage at the Landmark Theatre on Thursday night, his stories grabbed me and yanked me into his world. For a little over an hour, I immersed myself in his visually enhanced anecdotes and hysterical jokes.
Minhaj used his knack for storytelling from his 2017 stand-up special Homecoming King, mixed with his political savviness and assertiveness from his Netflix show Patriot Act. He also drew on his time as a correspondent on The Daily Show to explain what he believes in, why he cares and why it should matter; all in a relatable and hilarious way.
While Minhaj’s first special Homecoming King looked back at his childhood and his rise to fame, The King’s Jester evolved into a meditation on his rise to fame, fatherhood and the consequences of ego, politics and social media.
I respect comedians like Minhaj, and others similar to him like Trevor Noah and John Oliver. Their ability to make complex topics digestible, while adding a funny spin, is no easy task.
In The King’s Jester, Minhaj expertly walked the line between satire and sincerity. He led the audience through sincere yet tough topics by way of his satirical stories. It felt like being on a rollercoaster at times, but Minhaj was in complete control. One moment I’d be climbing up and laughing along the way, and then the drop came. The audience would fall silent. His tales revolved around infertility, nefarious political leaders, threats to his family, and hate crimes against him when he was a kid, but he masterfully weaved humor throughout the serious moments, keeping the audience laughing.
My favorite story was about a defamation lawsuit his show Patriot Act faced after an episode called out the hedge funds and private equity companies that buy and gut out local newsrooms to turn a profit. Not only did every legal joke land, but he also explained complex concepts like defamation, torts, and the jurisprudence of jokes without losing the audiences’ attention.
To complement the jokes, an oval-shaped screen behind him blared graphics, videos, text and color, enhancing points Minhaj illustrated. He used over 400 different graphic queues lined up with lighting which timed up to moments in his stories throughout the show. When he spoke about his struggle with social media, addiction to fame and clout chasing, the screen moved through ambient colors of Instagram orange and magenta and Twitter blue. He also used videos from Patriot Act, old interviews and news stories to complement moments in his kerfuffle with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia in January 2019.
Comedians tell us the hard truths while making us laugh. Minhaj is an intelligent and genius storyteller who put on a high-energy, educational, political and hysterical show on Thursday. He led his audience through uneven territory and brought them out smiling and more aware on the other side.