I continue to be impressed by “Patriot Act,” hosted by Hasan Minhaj. While other comics have tried and failed to produce weekly topical shows for Netflix (e.g. Chelsea Handler, Michelle Wolf), Minhaj succeeds by focusing on one issue for the full length of each 22-minute episode a la John Oliver.
Aided by brilliant graphics and lots of research, Minhaj has focused his satirical lens in previous seasons on affirmative action, student loans, and why public transportation sucks. Recently, he has explained how the coronavirus broke America, what happens when you can’t pay rent, and why the news industry is dying (two word answer: hedge funds). He even rushed a special 12-minute episode in this week (between his regular release dates) to discuss why Asian Americans should take action in support of Black Americans in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. I have embedded it above.
Before COVID, Minhaj did his shows standing on a high-tech stage in front of a studio audience. But this season proves he doesn’t need the onlookers. Like Oliver, Trevor Noah, and Samantha Bee have discovered while doing their shows from home, Minhaj is just as good when addressing viewers directly. Without having to pause for reactions and cutaways, his timing and material still engender plenty of laughs while packing in a lot of useful information.
If your excuse for not watching “Patriot Act” is that you don’t subscribe to Netflix, you can find all the episodes for free on this YouTube channel. Start with the current season (his sixth), then go back to season four to watch “The Broken Policing System,” before you browse through the other three dozen episodes.
I have found each of them to be both compelling and amusing, which is a tough combination to pull off.