Hasan Minhaj is likely to become new 'Daily Show' host. Here's what he told us it would take.

"I was lucky enough to work with Jon and Trevor and I saw intimately how much effort and energy and passion that show requires," Minhaj said in March.

(Photo by Irvin Rivera/Getty Images for IMDb)
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Hasan Minhaj could be ready to pour all of himself into being the host of The Daily Show.

That’s what the 37-year-old comedian told Yahoo Entertainment it would take for anyone to take over one of television’s most demanding jobs in a March interview as he prepared to emcee the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

On Tuesday, Variety reported that Minhaj was being eyed by Comedy Central to take over the seat vacated by Trevor Noah in December. Noah replaced previous longtime host Jon Stewart in 2015. (The trade cautioned Minhaj’s hiring is not yet finalized.)

“I think whoever takes that seat and sits behind that desk, they just have to have a love and a reverence for the institution and what it represents in culture,” Minhaj told us. “And hopefully whoever does it pours all of themself into it. I was lucky enough to work with Jon and Trevor and I saw intimately how much effort and energy and passion that show requires. So whoever does it, I wish them nothing but the best. And I hope they bring all of themselves to it. Because it takes everything out of you. It's gonna take everything to do that show.”

Here’s everything you need to know about Minhaj and how he emerged as the frontrunner to move behind the desk at Comedy Central’s popular politically-tinged late-night staple.

Who is Hasan Minhaj?

Minhaj was born in Davis — a Northern California city near Sacramento — to Indian Muslim immigrant parents. He stayed local for college, graduating with a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis in 2007. Around the same time, he began performing standup in San Francisco, and relocated to Los Angeles in 2009 for NBC’s Stand-up for Diversity. He appeared on MTV’s hidden camera show Disaster Date before hosting the network’s short-lived series Failosophy, with other TV gigs including State of Georgia, Arrested Development and Getting On.

The rising comedian was hired as a correspondent on The Daily Show, then hosted by Stewart, in 2014. Minhaj landed the role after an audition tape sketch in which he skewered a recent debate about Islam between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck, and became popular as a correspondent alongside the likes of Samantha Bee, Jordan Klepper and Jessica Williams in large part because of his sharp cultural commentary on Muslim and Asian American issues.

Minhaj’s profile was further elevated when he was tapped as the featured performer at the 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner. "Only in America can a first-generation, Indian American Muslim kid get on the stage and make fun of the president,” Minhaj said of Donald Trump, whom he labeled the “liar in chief.”

In 2015, he premiered his one-man off-Broadway show Homecoming King, heavily based on the eccentricities of growing up second-generation Indian Muslim in America, which he later evolved into a 2017 Netflix special of the same name. Minhaj left The Daily Show in 2018 when he scored his own political satire series on Netflix, Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj, which aired 40 episodes before it was canceled in 2020.

What happened to Trevor Noah?

The Daily Show premiered on July 22, 1996, initially hosted by Craig Kilborn until late 1998. But it was Stewart who made the program must-see television for progressive audiences when he took over the show at the beginning of 1999 and leaned far more into politics than Kilborn. Stewart gained a loyal following as he fiercely blasted the presidency of George W. Bush and his wars in the Middle East. It was no surprise when Stewart, who has amassed 22 Emmys, two Grammys and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, departed the show after 16 years in 2015. It was a long, clearly exhausting run.

What was surprising was who Comedy Central named as Stewart’s successor: a little-known (at least in the U.S.) South African comic named Trevor Noah. Yet after a predictably rocky year or two of transition, Noah also became revered in the role as he tried to find common ground with right-wing commentator Tomi Lahren in one particularly memorable interview and made an obvious effort to diversify the show’s guest lineup and audience. While many of his late-night counterparts struggled to adapt to performing with no live audience during the pandemic, Noah thrived from the comfort of his own living room, and in all his many colored hoodies.

So it was also surprising when in September 2022, Noah announced he was leaving the show. “There is another part of my life that I want to carry on exploring,” said Noah, explaining that he missed traveling abroad, performing stand-up and “being everywhere, doing everything.”

Why Minhaj’s selection is not surprising

After Noah’s departure at the end of 2022, Comedy Central took a by-committee approach to hosting duties, rotating a new guest host in every week through the first few months of 2023. They included Leslie Jones, Wanda Sykes, Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman, Al Franken, John Leguizamo, Kal Penn and Minhaj. (Several guest hosts that were announced, including current correspondents Michael Kosta and Ronny Chieng, never made air after the writers' strike shut down the show in May.)

For many of the guest hosts, it felt like simply that, a novelty. For others, like Minhaj, it felt like it could potentially be an audition. Minhaj scored rave reviews for his weekly stint, and considering he was both an alumnus of the show and had hosting experience leading Patriot Act, it stood to reason that he was a strong contender to permanently take over The Daily Show.

Even if Patriot Act was short-lived, it was generally well-admired. “Patriot Act spoke truth to power,” wrote The Washington Post’s Nayantara Duttain a tribute to the piece after it wasn’t renewed. What may have stood against him: In 2020, Minaj’s show was called out by several former staffers on social media as an alleged toxic work environment for female women of color. The story never generated mainstream media pickup, though the comedian addressed the complaints in a 2022 interview with The Daily Beast. Also, one seemingly prevalent feeling among Daily Show fans was that after three male hosts, a woman like Bee, Silverman or Amber Ruffin should be given a shot.

From his interview with Yahoo Entertainment, though, it’s clear Minhaj will revel in the role — should he choose to accept it.

“It’s the best show in comedy, and it's the best job in comedy,” he told us of his prior tenure there. “The environment at that office is so great. You're part of something that is culturally and politically relevant. It's both funny and meaningful. Very rarely do you get to be a part of a project that's both… I look back at it fondly. It’s one of the most important things that ever happened to me in my life.”