Comedy that’s universal

2 min read    20 Feb 2018    

This is exam time so naturally I have a lot of free time on my hand. The next exam is 7 hours away, while I write this piece.

I have watched the White House Correspondents’ Dinner multiple times, but Hasan Minhaj’s act stands out, every time. Let’s discuss why.


I started with the 2014 version with Joel McHale first. Being a fan of the TV series Community, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Next came Cecily Strong( from SNL )’s 2015 bit. She being a woman, I wondered if I had a bias against women in stand-up or is Cecily not as entertaining as Joel?

I have binged Community and SNL enough times to have some bond with both these actors. However, Community being a more standard / regular TV show, I had a stronger bond / could relate more easily with Joel. Also, Cecily’s bit was full of US specific political bits, which someone in India might not be aware of.

But then I wondered, what makes Joel’s talk funnier? Was it because it was less rooted in US politics picture that I could relate to it? Because I was smiling on more occassions during the 2014 talk.

It seemed only just I watch a couple more Dinner talks before I found out. Apart from these, I had watched Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Craig Ferguson, Hasan Minhaj, all of whom were on a TV talk show. But something made Hasan’s talk stand out.

Hasan’s piece was funny throughout. I was actually laughing. Why is that? Because his piece had more bits that someone not from USA could relate to. As an immigrant himself, Minhaj was aware of this. It also could be because Trump is easier to make fun of, than Obama, and the fact that Trump administration boycotted the dinner altogether.

Is that the key to successful comedy though? Dumb it down for more people so that a larger audience finds it funny? (This is something I’ve been aware of). Makes sense, because if your joke needs explaining, it’s not really a joke; it won’t garner more laughs after you’ve explained it.

That is why my facebook posts are really dumb. I don’t assume everyone is aware of the same level/ groups of pop culture that I’m acquainted with, so more generic the joke, the better. But is that derogatory? Should we lose what we really are, so that more people relate to us?

No. There’s a time and place for everything. If I want to crack a joke that’s really specific to a TV show I totally adore, but hardly 10 of my 2700 friends watch; I won’t do it on facebook, I’ll post it on the relevant subreddit (Reddit). Facebook is for generic stuff, which more of my friends understand, and occassionally; to broaden their scope, you might see a Doctor who joke on my facebook wall every now and then.


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