Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King standup comedy routine on Netflix is funny, creative, and relevant. Dreams, disappointments, successes and prejudice are explored, but not in the offensive broad strokes that many comedians use. They mimmic stereotypical dialects and body gestures to make fun of and sometimes perpetuate stereotypes. Another strategy used by a variety of comedians is to point out how stupid the racists are. These techniques serve as a release valve for dealing with or not being able to deal with the inhumanity of prejudice and the differences between cultures.
However, what makes Hasan Minhaj's routine unique is how he plugs into the personal narrative with disarming, authentic, vulnerability and humor, which is effective and irresistible. Minhaj unfolds a multi-faceted view on prejudice as he describes his personal experiences of being a brown person in a white America. Metaphorically and symbolically he includes poignant commentary on blacks and hispanic. He takes it a step further as he also explores the topic of white guilt. How do we own shameful acts past and present and work through them on an individual level?
Hassan Minhaj's Netflix routine unfolds like a Ted Talk with background visuals of (friends and family, texts and FB posts) to highlight his coming of age narrative. Homecoming King is not only a refreshing stand up routine but it would work well for a high school lesson. Actually, a part of his narrative reminds me of the short story American History by Judith Ortiz Cofer and could be used in conjunction with that story for a broader perspective.
Now, as I talk about Minhaj's Netflix standup as possibly being used in a classroom - I don't want to give the impression that it is didactic or preachy. It is not. But my teacher radar is always searching for relevant material to bring into the classroom because most of what we currently teach in public school classrooms is usually dated, black and white, heavy-handed, and loaded with platitudes. Very seldom, if ever, do we use humor to address the more weighty issues that we must confront in this millennium. It is a PG13 routine, in my opinion, sprinkled with a few curse words; I wasn't counting because I was enjoying what counts.
Check him out and let me know what you think.
Posts are brainstorms for lessons and presentations;
reflections on lesson presentations; and
trends in society that impact education and scholarly climate.
Posts in the "On the Write Side" blog are personal observations regarding the craft of writing and presentation, and the venues and writing community experiences.