You've probably been focused on who won't be attending the White House Correspondents' Dinner, haven't you? President Donald Trump made it clear he wouldn't be attending now that he's president — even though he has in the past. Nor is any of the White House staff going, in "solidarity" with the commander in chief. Yet the show must go on, and with the choice for host this year, you will want to tune in. Hasan Minhaj's Trump stand up routines make perfect sense given that the president is boycotting the event altogether.
If you're not familiar with Minhaj, he is a regular contributor to the The Daily Show on Comedy Central. He's also Indian-American and Muslim, which has made his reports since the election particularly impactful. For example, take what he said on the night of the election. "I am panicking, because melanin doesn’t rub off!" he joked to Trevor Noah. As Vanity Fair points out, the most hilarious bit was about flying while Muslim:
Have I pretended to be Puerto Rican a few times since 9/11? Claro que sí! But it used to be that when I walked on a plane, I could feel the stares and suspicion, and it sucked—but at least I knew the President of the United States had my back. Mostly because he’s also a Muslim . . . But now that asshole in seat 21B calling the flight attendant, trying to get me thrown off the plane — now that guy is the president. Plus, I also think he’s groping the lady sitting next to him.
While hilarious, that might be a little much for an event where the president was invited and would normally be in attendance. The head of the White House Correspondents' Association explained to The New York Times that they aren't trying to pick on Trump while he's off at his rally in Pennsylvania. Jeff Mason, who is also a Reuters reporter, said that he was "not looking for somebody who is going to roast the president in absentia; that’s not fair and that’s not the message we want to get across."
But if he did, Minhaj would be the perfect choice. Minhaj told The Times in a statement that it's "a tremendous honor to be a part of such a historic event even though the president has chosen not to attend this year. SAD!" He also added that it's an important time to talk about the freedom of the press and the First Amendment. Expect that to be a big part of the comedy, and the general theme of the evening.
To get a better idea of how it might go, check out Minhaj at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner from last year, above. He wasn't afraid to address some of the more controversial themes of the day. He told Congress that they had better act on gun control legislation. "You make almost $200,000 a year to write rules, to make our society better — not tweet, not to tell us about your 'thoughts and prayers.' To write rules to make our society better," he said at the event.
You can expect there will be a few honest moments like these, even if it's not solely Trump in his crosshairs on Saturday.