Hasan Minhaj on parenting and making a Bollywood film: wait wait… don’t tell me! – NPR | Wonder Mind Kids

Hasan Minhaj

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for The Bob Woodruf


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Mike Coppola/Getty Images for The Bob Woodruf


Hasan Minhaj

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for The Bob Woodruf

Hasan Minhaj grew up in an immigrant family where he was expected to become a doctor or a lawyer, so he had to keep his ambitions of being a comic a secret. In fact, his parents only found out when his car broke down on the way to a gig. We assume he was a correspondent for the Daily showentertained at the White House Correspondents Dinner and won a Peabody Award for his own show, Patriot Act.

This interview has been condensed for length and clarity.

Peter Sagal: That’s right, isn’t it? Your parents didn’t want you to be a comedian.

Hasan Minhaj: They weren’t really excited, but that’s because they loved me, right?

P.S. Exactly. They wanted what’s good for you!

They just wanted me to have a living, health insurance, you know.

PS: We heard that you started as a comic and kept it a secret from them until you got arrested, like in a car accident?

Yes, I was driving home from a show and my car, my Nissan Altima, aquaplaned and hit a shoulder. And the car was registered to my parents at home. So they called my parents and I had to call my father. It was a very smooth drive home. I said, “Oh man, can you just jump on me now?” It’s the anticipation and the waiting…

Helen Hong: The scariest sound immigrant parents make is the sound of silence. That’s when you know you really… Mmm.

But at the same time, if my daughter crashed my car into a median and did an impromptu comedy, I would say, “I’m SO disappointed, please don’t do this.” So I have this weird thing where I’m like, ‘Actually, you should be a doctor. Go back. Why? Why should they do this? Why would you choose a career based solely on whether people like you or not?” It’s a bizarre thing. I’ve come full circle.

PS: So you are a parent, you have in fact spoken about it. Your children are still quite young, aren’t they?

Yes, they are four and two.

PS: Are you already urging her to get into a job?

No, but for me that’s just how I am, don’t do anything subjective. Like, please don’t do that. I mean, I’m performing for a live theater and people are like, ‘That guy’s off The daily News It’s not that funny.” I have to perform, for example. I don’t want them to do that.

PS: So you are producing a Bollywood film for Amazon. can you describe it

So when you go to college, there are many South Asian and Southeast Asian kids who take part in these competitive Bollywood dance competitions where you perform a combination of different dance styles. Hindi film dance, Bollywood dance, Indian classical dance, krumping, break dancing, you name it, all rolled into one. And the teams take it very seriously. Really, it’s just a way for hormonal teens to fall in love while their parents are away. But, strangely enough, I met my wife. She was actually a Bollywood girl and I was sort of a Bollywood boy. And I would do skits and do standup at those shows. But it was really one of those things where we really felt like rock stars for a moment, even though we would end up working for McKinsey and helping fund a possible African coup, we had to be the superstars for a couple of years. It was wonderful.

PS: I haven’t seen many Bollywood movies…

By the way, every Hollywood ten is a Bollywood four.

PS: I put this together. But everyone I’ve seen, I’ve seen a few, they seem to end with the entire cast of the film performing a big dance number together.

That’s not true, not always. But there will be dancers and what’s cool, they have to do everything right. Got to [be a] true multi-hyphens. Yes, you must be a stud, there must be love, there must be family. You must have green eyes like you are a cat. As a man you have to have a six pack. You need to Yes, really dance. Not that la la country fake dancing, real Dance.

HH: I was with you until you went after Ryan Gosling.

Oh, really, Helen? Are you talking about the guy who looks like he’s taken too much Claritin and always looks tired?

This is an excerpt from Wait, wait… don’t tell me!, NPR’s weekly news quiz. Laugh and test your knowledge with today’s funniest comedians. Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or keep listening NPR oneand you can find us on Instagram. Interested in coming to our live shows at our new home at the Studebaker Theater in Chicago, IL or on the road? Just stop by nprpresents.org.

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