It’s been a couple months since the last episode of Patriot Act and I have to say, I’ve missed Hasan Minhaj’s liveliness onstage and the way the jokes almost tell themselves. The previous volume covered issues such as the oil crisis, Supreme and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi (that got taken down in Saudi Arabia), which may seem like boring subjects for a stand-up comedy show but Minhaj certainly knows how to make them work really well. Now, he’s back for a second season, kicking it off with an episode about ‘Censorship in China’.
He begins the episode, as he usually does, with a joke that’s seemingly unrelated to the subject of tonight’s show. This time he pokes fun at Saudi for removing his episode of Patriot Act but not taking other shows down such as The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Bojack Horseman. It seems almost ironic how Minhaj decided to do an episode on censorship straight after having a ‘request’ from the Saudi government to remove an episode of his show off of Netflix. Minhaj uses this to open the new season as he goes on to criticize China (“we got Saudi Arabia to issue their own prison ban”), too. The good thing is Netflix isn’t available in China so he probably won’t get any special requests from there.
One thing I appreciate about the new season is that Minhaj doesn’t really rely on his glorified powerpoint presentation. Unlike the final few episodes of the previous season, the jokes land really well with both the at-home audience and the on-screen audience even though the subject matter is getting increasingly darker and more Orwellian as the episode progresses.
Minhaj doesn’t hesitate to criticize and make jokes at the Chinese government’s expense but he also reminds us time and time again that people actually living in China can’t do the same under the watchful eyes of Xi Jinping and the CCP. It’s all fun and games when Minhaj laughs with the audience about Peppa Pig being a ‘gangsta’ in China and Xi Jinping looking like Winnie The Pooh. However, for many in China, speaking out against President Xi and the CCP has cost them their families, jobs and sometimes even lives.
What Minhaj is doing with his comedy is bold and most importantly, it works.
— Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj (@patriotact) February 10, 2019
My favourite part of the episode without a doubt is probably his interview with Liang Xiaowen, a Chinese feminist NGO founder and activist. Minhaj gets the balance between comedy and empathy for her cause. Not many comedians can do this. In fact, the first time he did in the “Supreme” episode, he failed spectacularly (though, the subject matter wasn’t as dark). This time, Minhaj flows between sympathy for Liang who’s had her family harassed because of her cause and jokes about the nature of Asian parents always crushing their children’s dreams.
The opening episode of Volume Two is hilarious and is the perfect addition to the series. Minhaj’s jokes still have the same natural flow to them, thus making them all the more hilarious. I’ve missed Minhaj’s addictively cheerful stage presence in the interlude between seasons and he most certainly did not disappoint with this week’s episode.
“Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” is available to stream on Netflix and Youtube.
Featured Image Via Netflix.