"Hasan Minhaj uses comedy as a means to become a rapper." - Interview

Stand-up comic, Hasan Minhaj, recently released his first CD, "Leaning on Expensive Cars and Getting Paid To Do It." When he's not leaning on said expensive cars, he's traveling across the country performing his act on various stages, and successfully pranking people on the internet. Recently, while he was taking a break from leaning on a souped-up Camry, I had a chance to talk to Hasan.

Q - How did you get involved with stand-up?

A - I started stand-up as a sophomore in college. I was at a friend's apartment and he was watching a stand-up special - Chris Rock's “Never Scared.” I had never seen stand-up on television before (my parents didn't let us have cable in the house). I immediately started looking up places to perform near where I went to school and immersed myself in the San Francisco comedy scene. I also actually ended up forming a comedy troupe with the very same guy that introduced me to stand-up. It was called Gridiron Gang based entirely on our tough, urban, and gritty demeanor.

Q - Can you describe your style for those unfamiliar with your work?

A - The voice of 'Generation Y' with a great head of hair. I've often been called the Jesse Katsopolis of comedy. Shout outs to all my 'Full House' fans out there.

Q - You have several bits about Facebook and YouTube. What roles do social networking sites play in allowing comics to develop their careers and get their material out to larger audiences?

A - Social networking plays a huge role in my career. It allows me to stalk people who tormented me in high school, fueled my insecurities, and caused me to become a comedian. Kidding (Or am I?).

But all that stuff is important. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have democratized the entertainment industry. You can now reach a fan base without using any other forms of traditional media and still be relevant. Wait a second, isn't this a traditional form of media? God, I'm such a sell out. Wait, this is a blog. Ok good, I maintain my Web 2.0 cred.

Q - You talk about hip hop and wanting to be a rapper in your act. How does hip hop influence your comedy?

A - I do want to be a rapper. Comedy is just a catalyst to that. Rappers get paid too insane, and as far as I'm concerned that means they win at the game of life. Anything I can do to get closer to riding yachts and helicopters unnecessarily fuels me everyday. Also, my father always told me humbleness is the most important virtue to have in life.

Q - Your first album is called, “Leaning On Expensive Cars and Getting Paid to Do It.” If you weren’t getting paid to lean on expensive cars and do stand-up, what would you do for a living?

A - Currently I'm getting paid to lean on a black Toyota Camry LE (Wassup ladies? Whatchu know about base model Camry's?). If I wasn't doing that I'd be doing the following:

A. Professional Ice Cream Taster. I saw a guy who worked for Dryers Ice Cream on 'The Rosie O'Donnell Show' back in '96. He owned a golden spoon and just tasted ice cream all day. He gave it a simple 'yay' or 'nay' and was paid handsomely to do so.
B. Bed tester for the Tempur-Pedic Mattress Company. If you haven't slept on one of these mattresses please break into a local Hyatt Regency and experience the magic yourself.
C. Host of the 'Price is Right'. 'Nuff said.

If my parents see this interview A, B, and C are all pre-requisites for law school.

Q - It looks like you have a pretty full tour schedule. How do you occupy yourself while you’re on the road?

A - I spend most of my time looking at ex-girflriend's Facebook pages and assessing how I compare to their current boyfriends. I come to terms with it by realizing I have a cooler job than them although they are far more financially stable than me. I then 'poke' them for old time sake. HEY NOW!

Q - Who are your favorite comics, and who influences you?

A - Bill Burr, Louis CK, Daniel Tosh, and Patton Oswalt. There are a lot of great up and coming comics I love watching: Moshe Kasher, Ryan Stout, Rory Scovel, Andy Haynes, Louis Katz, Chris D'elia, Hari Kondabolu, Sean Patton, John Mulaney, Hannibal Buress...at this point I'm just going through who I follow on Twitter.

Q - What’s next for you? What can fans expect from you in the future?

A - I'm currently pranking people on the internet: http://www.tuaw.com/2010/11/08/stun-fone-iphone-accessory-youtube-spoof-or-real-product/

Q - How did you get involved with the Stun Fone project, and were you surprised that some people actually thought it was real?

A - I became involved in the Stun Fone project when Andrew Karlsruher (the director at Stun Creative) had me come in audition for a viral marketing video for the production company Stun Creative. I went in, auditioned, and booked the part. After that it was essentially my job to help create the image that I was Jeff Esteghlalian, an MIT student that created the world's first Stun Fone; a device that essentially allows you to stun your friends for fun. When the video went live I was surprised to see the wide disparity in the comments. There were some people who loved what we had 'created', and others that wanted to kill me because they clearly knew it was fake.


Kate Brindle is a stand-up comedian from Ann Arbor, MI. For more information and for tour dates, visit her at http://www.katebrindle.com/.
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