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Tuesday, December 5, 2023
December 5 , 2023

“This strange Miami energy”: Hasan Minhaj’s comedy show comes to Miami

“This is a true story — fact-check it.”

The Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center welcomed Hasan Minhaj — an Indian-American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor and television host — for his “Off With His Head” comedy tour on Friday, Nov. 17.

The audience of over 2,200 eager fans laughed and cheered as the animated comedian tackled topics of modern politics, the rise of AI, therapy and Indian culture. Hasan’s demeanor felt like he was talking to a friend, sharing stories as one would when reconnecting with a close confidante.

Comedian Hasan Minhaj performs during the comedy show in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the USO and the 5th anniversary of Joining Forces at Joint Base Andrews in Washington, D.C. May 5, 2016.
Comedian Hasan Minhaj performs during the comedy show in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the USO and the 5th anniversary of Joining Forces at Joint Base Andrews in Washington, D.C. May 5, 2016. Photo credit: DoD News photo by EJ Hersom, via Wikimedia Commons

Minhaj opened the show poking fun at the massive wealth in Miami. Before coming to the city, he was stunned by the cost of property on sites like Zillow.com, wondering how the average person could afford this way of life.

“What the f— do you all even do here?” Minhaj jokingly asked the audience.

He transitioned into his niche of political commentary, telling an anecdote from his Washington D.C. show last year. He recalled the Secret Service alerting him to a member of the First Family in the crowd, and how he wished it would be Hunter Biden, going on to drug and sexual jokes to explain his fascination with the son.

“Republicans hate Hunter because he is better than all of them. He represents them — hates taxes, loves guns, and sleeps with his family,” Minhaj said, referring to Biden’s affair with his late brother’s wife.

Using the Republican party as his punchline, the comedian noticed how some of the audience is more responsive than others.

“I love making these jokes in Florida,” Minhaj said.

He consistently remarked “I don’t want you to take me literally” or “I have receipts” throughout the show, referring to a recent New Yorker article accusing him of making up content for jokes, to which he responded in his usual satirical fashion.

“I went against a white woman with a keyboard. I was accused of embellishing for dramatic effects,” Minhaj said. “Don’t fact-check these jokes.”

Speaking directly to the men in the audience, he joked about the male affinity towards cryptocurrency and their tendency to act abruptly and confidently. Connecting it to the male mid-life crisis, Minhaj said it’s “misguided self-improvement,” as he too fell for the Bitcoin trend after watching a single TikTok.

“A lot of men aren’t laughing,” Minhaj said, noticing the crowd.

Involving women in the conversation, he compared the men they are interested in to speculative assets like Bitcoin — volatile, deregulated and uninsured.

“Ladies, you invest in us, so who is dumber?” Minhaj said.

Minhaj frequently interacted with the audience, chatting directly with couples in the front row and incorporating their answers into his set. The audience interacted with the comedian, yelling to him from the crowd where he would respond, almost a conversation.

Conversing with a couple in medical school, he brought up the looming threat of artificial intelligence and how they “won’t lose their job to AI.”

“I think AI will kill us, because it will see how we treated Wikipedia,” Minhaj said. “It came out of nowhere — it feels like the new crypto.”

Minhaj referred to the first time he heard about artificial intelligence and assumed they were abbreviating Asians and Indians, the original AI.

Photo courtesy artist management.
Photo courtesy artist management.

“We treat ChatGPT like an Asian kid you’re bullying in high school,” Minhaj said.

Minhaj then described some of the microaggressions, grievances and commentary he has experienced over his last couple tours, starting with the mispronunciation of his name by celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres.

“She’s a 65-year-old lesbian from Metairie, and I expected her to speak Urdu?” Minhaj incredulously asked the roaring crowd.

It wouldn’t be a Minhaj show without references to Indian culture. He references his time in individual and couples therapy in an attempt to break the cycle of lack of affection from his immigrant parents, and how he secretly tries to win at couples therapy.

“I just don’t want to be the problem,” Minhaj said.

Minhaj expressed the importance of finding a therapist that understands you culturally, sharing a memory with his first therapist who attempted to have him set boundaries with his mother — all because he answered her phone call.

“We’re not like you. We don’t let them die in nursing homes,” Minhaj said.

Hasan closed out the show referring to his “good boy syndrome,” a consequence of being the eldest child of immigrants and always wanting to appease everyone, especially his parents.

“F— those Indian mama’s boys, but I hope my son loves his mama,” Minhaj said, wrapping up the night.

Despite the large crowd and venue, Minhaj had a comfortable stage presence and frequently remarked how he could see and speak to each person in the audience.

His dynamic movements — from moving with the microphone, falling, sitting and running — added to his storytelling. Minhaj also utilized various facial expressions, voices and sound effects that prompted fits of laughter with each punchline.

This was a show I was glad to see. As the daughter of first-generation immigrants, I could not stop laughing and commended his ability to bring lightness to the experience — Minhaj has always had a unique way of approaching the subject matter.

His upbeat energy and quips towards celebrities, family members and the audience allowed him to reach into his breadth of personal experiences and observations to fill the compelling, ninety-minute set.

To get tickets for future “Off With His Head” tour dates, visit hasanminhaj.com.

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