Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Stephen Colbert, Hasan Minhaj
Stephen Colbert, Hasan Minhaj
Screenshot: The Late Show

Patriot Act host and other person who owes a lot to Jon Stewart Hasan Minhaj appeared on Stephen Colbert’s homebound Late Show on Tuesday, one-upping Colbert’s tales of remote pandemic TV broadcasting. “Prashanth lives in the basement!,” delightedly trumped Minhaj to Colbert playing the “my wife is my cameraperson” card, with Minhaj revealing that, in addition to turning one of the rooms in his house into a green screen studio for his Netflix current affairs comedy series, Patriot Act showrunner Prashanth Venkataramanujam has actually moved in for the duration.

That’s some commitment to the whole “the show must go on” ethos (big ups, Prashanth), something the brashly confrontational Minhaj matched on last Sunday’s episode when his impassioned direct address to his Asian-American viewership tackled the ticklish topic of anti-Black racism within his own community. Noting that his experience seeing “some very ugly conversations” on WhatsApp in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the sometimes violent protests thereafter, Minhaj told Colbert that his widely-shared dressing-down of the “first-generation Aunties and Uncles and their kids” for not recognizing their participation in the systemic racism being protested against was uniquely personal.

“We don’t just get to own its successes, we also have to own its failures,” explained Minhaj about the Patriot Act clip that’s now been viewed over 4 million times, “That’s what it means to be an American citizen.” Noting that the feedback he’s received has been pretty positive (despite the experienced shit-stirrer Colbert urging him never—ever—to read the comments) Minhaj said, “It’s our job to take the knee off that man’s neck,” explaining, “A lot of the time, when you talk about race in America, we consider it, in our community, to be a very black-white conversation.” Commiserating with Colbert’s professed white guilt, Minhaj said he was “happy to carry some of that,” saying of the 1965 Civil Rights Act, “Martin Luther King CC-ed us on that email of progress.” Minhaj also noted in his rapid-fire Millennial-speak, that the younger generation remains his harshest critics, although, counter to Gen X-er Colbert’s advice, he still engages online, explaining that he’s not taking any crap from a kid “dunking on me with their older sister’s cracked iPhone 6s.” Take that, Brandon.

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With Colbert recalling how Patriot Act did an episode on police reform back in 2019, Minhaj said the biggest roadblock to change in law enforcement he learned about was qualified immunity. (With police unions and so-called “warrior training,” of police right behind.) “That’s what was most shocking,” Minhaj said concerning the blanket immunity that prevents citizens from successfully suing police officers. Pointing to the fact that NYPD police officer Daniel Pantaleo has never been prosecuted for another caught-on-camera choking murder of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, six years ago, Minhaj decried how exceedingly rare it is for cops to actually be prosecuted and serve time. “I thought that was what we loved to do most in this country,” joked Minhaj acidly about the inability to sue even those law enforcement figures whose crimes are captured on film.

Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj airs every Sunday on Netflix.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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