Hasan Minhaj Returns in New Talk Show Grilling Warren on Biden’s Age

YouTube screenshot
YouTube screenshot

Hasan Minhaj might not have taken over The Daily Show, nor even still host his Netflix series (Patriot Act), but the 38-year-old comedian still has good timing. He launched his new talk show by striking at the heart of the discourse, throwing daggers at whether President Joe Biden is too old to remain president.

The inaugural episode of Hasan Minhaj Doesn’t Know premiered Monday morning on YouTube with a half-hour sitdown with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, with Minhaj cracking wise that “one of the benefits of President Biden being the president is that we don’t have to argue about whether or not he can drive.” Warren pushed back on this, telling Minhaj: “I know you want to have fun, but I’ve just got to tell you this. I talk to the man, and the man is sharp. The man knows what he’s talking about. He does the job.”

But Minhaj’s program undercuts her message, flashing a reminder graphic underneath her onscreen reading: “Remember that this was recorded before the first presidential debate.” Nevertheless, Warren persisted. “It’s a sharpness and a pointedness about what he is trying to accomplish,” shs said of Biden in April. “The heart of it is, what does he deliver, and he is delivering.”

For his part, Minhaj praised Warren in his sit-down with her, which was filmed April 3 in her Massachusetts home. “You’re 74. You are sharp as a tack. You’re acute. You can yak on mofos in these Senate hearings. It’s all there,” he told her. “My dad is 72. He can’t plug in a router.” The comedian also zinged himself for not knowing the difference between or how to properly fill out a W-9 tax form versus a W-2.

He also hyped up the Massachusetts senator by comparing her performances in the Senate to the Instagram account, House of Highlights. His questions touched on the problems of electoral messaging by Democrats, as well as Warren’s legislative efforts to ban Congressional abilities to buy and sell stocks, and ways to get young Americans more involved in politics.

Of course, much of this was done with the comedian’s tongue firmly in cheek, as he delivered an opening and ending message in haughty character, dressed in monochromatic blue with a turtleneck under his suit and slicked-back hair. And several of Minhaj’s questions to Warren, much like his 2023 sit-down with former president Barack Obama, were meant to keep his guest on their toes, much in the way of interviews on The Daily Show that aired in the late 1990s and the 2000s. With Warren, Minhaj tried to break her by mentioning OnlyFans, “Puff Daddy doors,” and “Mitch McConnell’s whale tail.”

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But Minhaj sincerely pressed Warren on the messaging divide between Democrats and Republicans, claiming the discord is hugely frustrating to young progressives, and noting the similarities between wrestling and politics. Donald Trump has made multiple appearances on WWE telecasts over the years and spouts memorable catchphrases, whereas Minhaj compared the Dems to former journeyman pro wrestler “Dean Douglas.” Warren admitted that her party might not sound catchy, but insisted that on issues that matter, such as abortion, voters didn’t need a snappy slogan to enshrine their rights come election time.

Of course, this sit-down was as much about Minhaj making the most of his first step back into the spotlight after losing The Daily Show gig last year, following a scandal about alleged falsehoods in his autobiographical comedy. This premiere episode arrived on YouTube Monday morning with the teasing title of “I asked Senator Warren if the President is TOO OLD?”

Minhaj’s former Patriot Act head writer, Prashanth Venkataramanujam, is on board as co-creator and EP of Hasan Minhaj Doesn’t Know, with another Patriot Act writer, Scott Vrooman, serving as showrunner for this new, presumably weekly series on YouTube.

And at times, Minhaj seemed to be talking to viewers as much about himself as he was about Congress, the White House, or politics in general. “When it comes to any piece of legislation, I would argue in the digital age, messaging is actually more important than governing,” he suggested to Warren at one point. “What people think you do is actually more important than what you actually do.” In this sense, does it matter if he’s on Comedy Central or Netflix or YouTube? Either way, Minhaj’s clips from this convo will get shared far and wide.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

YouTube screenshot

At another point, he claimed that climbing the ladder in politics or show business carries similar dangers in terms of losing your soul or moral compass:“on the back end of it, [those people] end up painting or podcasting.” He even asked Warren for advice: “What’s the benefit to your soul?…Because you get one ride, one merry-go-round.”

“The merry-go-round has got to be that you did your best,” Warren told him.

She recalled what she asked herself before her initial decision to run for the U.S. Senate. “How would I feel if I didn’t try? And not trying is not OK. If you think the fight is important, you don’t get to back up and say, ‘You know what? It could cost me a lot to do this. I could make a lot of mistakes. I could get things wrong. I could have a lot of painful moments in this.’ But damn! There are some things that you have to say I’m just going to try anyway. And I think that’s what happens in elected office.”

Show business, too, as it turns out.

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