Patriot Act unleashes weapons of mass comedy


Courtesy of Netflix

Patriot Act host Hasan Minhaj poses on cover art for the show. After releasing volume two Feb. 10, a new episode is premiering every Sunday.

Satirical, laugh-inducing and informative: three words that describe Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act,” Netflix’s new late-night news comedy. Minhaj brings a hysterical, somewhat explicit and understandable take on current events and global issues.

“Patriot Act” is the first of its kind for Netflix; a TV-MA, stand-up, political commentary show hosted by a minority punctuated with informational graphics, news clips and pop culture references. Minhaj tackles one fairly broad topic a show, ranging from oil (yes, that broad) to Amazon, and infuses elements of pop culture to inform viewers on said topic.

The show premieres every Sunday on Netflix and is live taped before a studio audience at the University of California, Los Angeles. Minhaj is a former Daily Show correspondent and stand-up comic. With a successful first season in the books, season two premiered Feb. 10.

Content-wise, the show is relatively informative. After sifting through the bias, you’ll note Minhaj takes incredibly left-leaning stances on issues and prods at conservative politics. Minhaj has prided himself on speaking against President Trump, most notably taking on the role of featured speaker for the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2017. However, his use of relevant pop culture examples, humor and his unique perspective create an engaging show like no other. When discussing such broad issues, Minhaj tends to give brief overviews, explain the history and then go into depth on issues and current news. However, he frequently skips large parts of often historical and valuable information.

One fatal flaw in “Patriot Act” is Minhaj’s crude reliance on stereotypes as his source of comedy. Despite proclaiming his show as a “woke TED talk,” Minhaj continually stereotypes Asian-Americans, conservative politicians and white people. When dissecting complex issues, like Affirmative Action, Minhaj stereotypes Asian-American parents and students, with the evident goal of evoking laughter from a live studio audience. Whether or not these are justified, the use of stereotypes in comedy is definitely not “woke,” as he may call it.

“Patriot Act” garnered national attention when one of its episodes was pulled from Netflix. The episode surrounded Saudi Arabia and its abusive Mohammed Bin Salman. The episode focused on Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemeni Civil War and the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In compliance with a Saudi Arabian law for “production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers,” Netflix pulled the episode from streaming in Saudi Arabia. Netflix’s move was not a wise one. In an age where free expression is under attack, Netflix should be celebrating the truthful and dissenting show that provoked the reaction of a dictator, not restricting it.

That being said, Minhaj’s perspective on such issues is a much-needed breath of fresh air. Minhaj, a Muslim Indian-American, contributes a well-deserved perspective to the variety show genre and integrates his personal experiences as an Indian-American into his speeches, frequently referring to his parents or childhood. The absence of diversity in the television industry is noted by Minhaj, which makes his presence all the more beneficial.

In a world where late-night politics are dominated by the same type of hosts, “Patriot Act” with Hasan Minhaj is the invigorating and paunchy shock the late night industry needed.

The Pwest Pathfinder gives “Patriot Act” a 9/10.