Once Hasan Minhaj spent enough time in Toronto, it didn’t take much time for him to realize what he’d been missing out on.
The comedian, who recently sold out four shows at Coca-Cola Coliseum just last month, was back in the city this weekend for the Canadian Chinese Youth Athletic Association (CCYAA) Celebrity Classic basketball game headlined by Jeremy Lin and Simu Liu.
And while the Toronto crowds showed up for both his basketball skills as well his arena tour, Toronto was originally absent from Minhaj’s lineup for his one-man show The King’s Jester.
“You guys cyberbullied me to come,” Minhaj joked with BlogTO in reference to an article that Toronto had ‘annoyed’ him into visiting. “Can we talk about that? Can we turn this on the journalists? You guys put me in an emotional headlock and demanded that I came here.”
“I’ve performed in Toronto and Canada for the past several years, but I didn’t get a full understanding about how amazing its diversity as a city is, and so now it’s one of my favourite comedy cities performing in the world,” Minhaj added. “Toronto, New York, London and DC are some of the best comedy cities in the world.”
Favourite parts about the city
It’s clear that Toronto’s diversity resonates strongly with Minhaj.
“Everybody in the city is gorgeous and beautiful,” Minhaj told the press. “When I was walking around and like, oh my god, everyone just like looks like a fashion catalog… everyone’s this beige mix of the future. They’re like the love child of Drake and Bruno Mars.”
Minhaj continued with perhaps a new business venture for the world’s best known-crayon company.
“You’re the most beautiful… Sudanese-Egyptian-Indian-Pakistani-Filipino person I’ve ever met,” he said about Toronto’s population. “Doesn’t everybody kind of look like that? It’s just amazing. Crayola needs to have this thing called ‘Toronto melanin’, which is exactly what everybody is.”
Minhaj also said that he’d spent a day in Brampton celebrating Eid while on his trip to Ontario.
“That was a whole thing,” he said. “I was like ‘oh my god, I’ve never I’ve never experienced this before’. It was really cool.”
But despite his newfound love for the city, he hasn’t exactly found a favourite restaurant yet.
“I ate at the hotel,” he said, adding that he was staying at 1 Hotel Toronto on Wellington Street. “Y’all didn’t tell me it’s a scene there… it was giving me social anxiety. I didn’t know it was a place to like see and be seen.”
Friendship with Jeremy Lin
Minhaj was recruited as part of the All-Asian celebrity roster, coached by NBA veterans Jamaal Magloire and Dominique Wilkins.
And while one objective of the trip was to have a good time playing basketball and raise money for the CCYAA, Minhaj also took a moment to reflect on what Jeremy Lin’s rise to NBA stardom meant to him.
Comedian @hasanminhaj on what Linsanity meant to him:
“Jeremy Lin gave the Asian community a sense of pride and dignity on one of the worlds biggest stages which is the NBA.” pic.twitter.com/e1VD2kzSse
— Libaan Osman (@libaanstar1) July 9, 2022
“Jeremy gave the Asian community a sense of pride and dignity on one of the world’s biggest stages,” Minhaj said. “For the longest time Asian Americans were economically relevant in America but culturally irrelevant, and for him to stand on the biggest stage. Everybody felt like they knew [him…] I felt like I grew up with Jeremy.”
Hasan Minhaj scoring that basket!
Also, thank you to the awesome young volunteers! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/4rnEkycJm0
— Rebeka B (@Rebeka_Toronto) July 10, 2022
Expanding on that point, Minhaj joked that the two attended Kumon tutoring classes together.
“I know what his mom’s living room smells. I know Jeremy,” Minhaj continued. “I know what their minivan looks like. For him to score 38 points at [Madison Square] Garden or across up John Wall and dunk on him, it was this culminating moment of a community of people around the world finally feeling seen on one of the most culturally relevant stages in the world.”
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