I must confess that I never heard of Hasan Minhaj before Saturday night when I watched the TV program about White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington D.C. I quickly found out that he is the “The Daily Show” correspondent.
He ripped everyone from Bill O’Reilly to the 45th President (“In four hours Donald Trump will be tweeting about how badly Nicki Minaj bombed at this dinner”). He also turned serious to acknowledge the importance of free speech in America, a theme that echoed throughout the night at the annual media meets the White House event.
“Only in America can a Muslim get on this stage and make fun of the President,” Minhaj said.
He added: “The man who tweets everything the enters his head, refuses to acknowledge the amendment that allows him to do it.”
"Welcome to the series finale of The White House Correspondent's Dinner," joked Hasan Minhaj as he took the podium, looking out to a room filled with some of the media's most recognizable faces. The White House Correspondent's dinner was noticeably different last night from years past, namely because President Trump and his entire administration were not in attendance. It is customary for the President to attend and speak at the event, which is meant to serve as a bridge between the White House and the members of the press who cover it, and to celebrate the freedom of the press.
Minhaj was this year's speaker, and he immediately acknowledged the fact that he was chosen mostly because no one else wanted the job. He then took aim at the President himself, who was at a rally in Pennsylvania during the correspondent's dinner, and who announced in February that he would not be attending. Minhaj also joked about Betsy DeVos, Jeff Sessions, and Vladimir Putin, who Minhaj referred to as the president in one joke.
Hasan was simply brilliant! You may like to listen to his speech.
In case you don't have time, here are 10 of Minhaj's most memorable lines from the dinner:
On being a minority in America:
"That's why you gotta be on your 'A' game," Minhaj told the press. "You gotta be twice as good. You can't make any mistakes, because when one of you messes up he blames your entire group. ... And now you know what it feels like to be a minority."
On the First Amendment:
"This event is about celebrating the First Amendment and free speech. Free speech is the foundation of an open and liberal democracy from college campuses to the White House. Only in America can a first generation Indian American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the President."
"Don, every time I watch your show, I feel like I'm watching a reality TV show. 'CNN Tonight' should just be called 'Wait a second! Now hold on! Stop yelling at each!' with Don Lemon."
On Vladimir Putin:
"We have to address the elephant not in the room. The leader of our country is not here. But that's because he's in Moscow."
On Trump's frequent golfing outings:
"Every time Trump goes golfing, the headline should read, 'Trump golfing. Apocalypse delayed. Take the W.' "
On Kellyanne Conway and 'alternative facts':
"Even if you guys groan, I've already hired Kellyanne Conway. She's gonna go on TV Monday and tell everyone I 'killed.' It really doesn't matter."
On the Trump administration:
"The news coming out of the White House is so stressful, I've been watching 'House of Cards' just to relax."
On Frederick Douglass:
"Frederick Douglass isn't here, and that's because. He's dead. Someone please tell the President!"
"Historically, the president usually performs at the correspondents' dinner, but I think I speak for all of us when I say he's done far too much bombing this month."
On headlining the WHCA dinner:
"I would say it is an honor to do this, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one one wanted to do this so of course it falls in the hands of an immigrant. That's how it always goes down."