Hasan Minhaj could be ready to pour all of himself into being the host of The Daily Show.
On Tuesday, The reported that Minhaj was being eyed by Comedy Central to take over the seat vacated by Trevor Noah in December. Noah replaced previous longtime host Jon Stewart in 2015. (The trade cautioned Minhaj’s hiring is not yet finalized.)
Minhaj was born in Davis — a Northern California city near Sacramento — to Indian Muslim immigrant parents. He stayed local for college, graduating with a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis in 2007. Around the same time, he began performing standup in San Francisco, and relocated to Los Angeles in 2009 for NBC’s Stand-up for Diversity. He appeared on MTV’s hidden camera show Disaster Date before hosting the network’s short-lived series Failosophy, with other TV gigs including State of Georgia, Arrested Development and Getting On.
The rising comedian was hired as a correspondent on The Daily Show, then hosted by Stewart, in 2014. Minhaj landed the role after an audition tape sketch in which he skewered a recent debate about Islam between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck, and became popular as a correspondent alongside the likes of Samantha Bee, Jordan Klepper and Jessica Williams in large part because of his sharp cultural commentary on Muslim and Asian American issues.
Minhaj’s profile was further elevated when he was tapped as the featured performer at the 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner. “Only in America can a first-generation, Indian American Muslim kid get on the stage and make fun of the president,” Minhaj said of Donald Trump, whom he labeled the “liar in chief.”
In 2015, he premiered his one-man off-Broadway show Homecoming King, heavily based on the eccentricities of growing up second-generation Indian Muslim in America, which he later evolved into a 2017 Netflix special of the same name. Minhaj left The Daily Show in 2018 when he scored his own political satire series on Netflix, Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj, which aired 40 episodes before it was canceled in 2020.
The Daily Show premiered on July 22, 1996, initially hosted by Craig Kilborn until late 1998. But it was Stewart who made the program must-see television for progressive audiences when he took over the show at the beginning of 1999 and leaned far more into politics than Kilborn. Stewart gained a loyal following as he fiercely blasted the presidency of George W. Bush and his wars in the Middle East. It was no surprise when Stewart, who has amassed 22 Emmys, two Grammys and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, departed the show after 16 years in 2015. It was a long, clearly exhausting run.