Donald Trump really doesn’t want you to watch Muslim comedian Hassan Minhaj comically filet him at this Saturday’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner (WHCD). So much so that Trump announced a few days ago that he would hold a “BIG” campaign type rally opposite the dinner to commemorate his first 100 days in office. This despite Trump telling us that the 100-day mark is “ridiculous” and that it “doesn’t matter.”
Keep in mind when Trump first announced in February that he was skipping the WHCD—making him the first President to do since Ronald Reagan missed it in 1981 because he was recovering from an assassination attempt—Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump wanted to “spend the night focused on what he can do to help better America.” Apparently spending taxpayer dollars to congratulate himself on his failed first 100 days is Trump’s way “to help better America.”
We all know why Trump is really steering clear of the WHCD. First, like Third World dictators, he hates being laughed at because he wants to be feared. Secondly, the last time Trump attended the WHCD in 2011 he got his ass kicked comically by both President Obama and the emcee for the evening, Seth Meyer.
And third, Trump would be compared to Obama in terms of delivering jokes. The problem here is that Obama was the best president to deliver jokes at a WHCD. Period. In contrast Trump’s joke delivery, as we saw in October at the Al Smith diner, is awful. I’ve seen dead people with better comedic timing. The idea that Obama would be seen as being far better than Trump at anything would turn him a brighter orange.
Now add in the fact that the comedian for the WHCD this year, Daily Show correspondent Minhaj, is brown and Muslim. The idea that Minhaj could get headlines ripping Trump for views on Muslims, such as Trump’s claim “Islam hates us,” and for his Muslim ban must trouble him. And this has to especially piss off Steve Bannon, a man who while running Brietbart.com made it a platform for some of the vilest anti-Muslim bigots America has seen. So voila, here comes the campaign rally Saturday to take media attention from Minhaj.
True, Trump hates being ridiculed by any comedian, regardless of their background. This is the same Trump who in October demanded that Saturday Night Live be cancelled for mocking him in a way Trump deemed unfair. Trump also lashed out at Jon Stewart in 2013 for his Trump jokes on The Daily Show via Twitter, calling Stewart “overrated” and “no talent.”
But it has to be even more stinging for Trump if the jokes decimating him are coming from a person who is a member of one the groups he demonized during his campaign. The only comedian who would be a better fit to get under Trump’s skin would’ve been a Muslim, Latino, female, immigrant comedian who was disabled. That would be all the things Trump demonized in one person.
Making matters worse for Trump is that Minhaj is a great comedian. I’ve been in several shows with him and seen it firsthand.
Plus in 2016, Minhaj was the comedian at the annual Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association (RTCA), which is in essence the “JV” version of the WHCD. And there Minhaj got headlines for his jokes and for taking on the NRA. His performance at that event offers a glimpse into what we can expect Saturday at the WHCD.
Minhaj opened his twenty-minute plus performance by referencing a possible Trump presidency: “Brown people, we’re going to get deported. This is just my farewell tour, I’m saying goodbye to America.” Adding, “I got to do all my American stuff, like go to Costco for the last time.”
Minhaj later called out Trump’s bigotry with a cutting joke about The New York Times and The Washington Post referring to Trump’s comments as being “racially tinged.” Minhaj retorted, “No, I’m racially tinged. That dude is racist, straight up.”
And later he went after the Muslim-bashing of Fox News: “I’ve never seen so many people with spray tans hate people of color…and line up for halal chicken and rice.” And: “I love that all morning they’re like ‘Mexicans, #AllLivesMatter, A-rabs.’ But come 12:01 it’s ‘shawarma time.’”
I hope, and expect, that Minhaj will use his punchlines at the WHCD to comically destroy Trump, his bigoted views and his failed policies. Nothing—I mean nothing—should be off limits for Minhaj in his jokes about Trump and his history of hate.
For so many Americans, Trump’s words aren’t simply political talk. Rather they are personal in that Trump’s rhetoric has ginned up fears of our communities. Well, come Saturday’s WHCD, Minhaj will get a chance to use comedy to even the score a bit at the expense of the pathetically thin skinned Trump. And that is something we all need to watch.