Hasan Minhaj, the comedian who blasted Congress for failing to act on gun control, has no regrets.
Speaking to PEOPLE about his experience addressing a room full congresspeople and media at the Radio and Television Correspondents Associate Dinner, the Daily Show correspondent revealed the tension in the room and why he decided to talk about Sunday’s mass shooting when he was expected to perform a comedy routine.
“It was a little cold in the room. The people that didn’t like it filed right out and some people kind of felt like, ‘Ok he was supposed to do comedy and he didn’t quite do all that,” Minhaj tells PEOPLE. “Then there was a group of people that were like, ‘Hey, thank you for saying that. John Kasich came up and we talked for a little bit.”
Minhaj’s conversation on gun control came at the same time that Democrats were carrying out an impassioned filibuster on Wednesday, during which they argued the need for new gun control measures. After nearly 15 hours on the Senate floor, Republican Party leaders reportedly agreed to allow a vote on two new measures – which is exactly what Minhaj was hoping for.
Throughout his set, the comedian acknowledged that he thought the country is divided on the issue, but that everyone is being “complicit.”
“I just wanted to keep it intellectually honest and I wanted to keep all my jokes just about policy,” he says, adding that he had no regrets about his decision. “That’s what we’ve learned at the Daily Show is to write to our highest level of intellect. I’m not going to go after people’s families or their personal lives. I’m going after ‘Hey, this is what we have paid you to do as our representatives.’ ”
Remembering when he first joined the Daily Show, Minhaj tells PEOPLE that he tries to live by advice from Jon Stewart to “move towards his discomfort.” His biggest hope for his latest performance is that it starts a conversation.
“We don’t need thoughts and prayers, we need preventive legislation,” he adds. “I hope that this starts a dialogue I hope that Congress will lift that ban and allow the CDC to cover gun violence and gun deaths because we can’t even have a real discussion with the other side of the argument.”