The rising star loves Harry Potter and counts Vogue's Anna Wintour as a fan

By Kara Warner
June 09, 2017 08:48 PM
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Comedian Hasan Minhaj attends the Natural Resources Defense Council's "NRDC's Night of Comedy" Benefit with Seth Meyers, John Oliver, George Lopez, Mike Birbiglia and Hasan Minhaj on November 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for The Natural Resources Defense Council)

Hasan Minhaj has been a rising star in the comedy world for several years, beginning with his stint as a correspondent on The Daily Show, and most recently via his well-received turn as host of the 2017 White House correspondents’ dinner.

In his limited amounts of spare time, Minhaj wrote and toured with a one-man off-Broadway show, Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King, which is now a Netflix comedy special. Here are five things you should know about the 31-year-old comedian.

1. He was paid to make fun of the president

“I’m the son of immigrants, and I was standing on this stage making fun of the president,” Minhaj tells PEOPLE of hosting the White House correspondents’ dinner. “It’s a really beautiful amazing tradition and it’s something worth fighting for, I’ll never forget that night.”

Neither will Minhaj’s family, who was seated in the audience watching him. “They were on the edge of their seats,” he recalls with a laugh. “I could see it on their faces, they didn’t relax until the very end when I said, ‘Thank you, goodnight.’ I could see this collective sigh of relief because they were basically watching me tightrope walk in front of the world.”

2. He’s a friend to Vogue

“The day after the White House correspondents’ dinner, Anna Wintour called and said, ‘We would like for you to come to the Met Gala.’ I got to sit at the Vogue table, so that was really cool. It was like being in Alice in Wonderland — you feel like you’re in a dream.”

FROM PEN: Learn The Process Behind Time Selecting The 100 Most Influential People

3. There was a Hasan Minhaj Day in his honor

For Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio honored Minhaj with Hasan Minhaj Day on behalf of the work he’d been doing.

“We had this big event at Gracie Mansion and it was really cool, but it started at 7 p.m., so I only had five hours of Hasan Minhaj Day,” he says. “It should have been at 8 a.m. and then I could’ve made my proclamations.” (A sample Minhaj Day Proclamation was: free use of New York’s Citi Bikes for the day).

4. He loves sneakers

“I’m a big sneakerholic. That’s the one vice I have,” he admits. “One of the most fun pieces I did at The Daily Show was interviewing DJ Khaled at his sneaker closet in Miami. I can’t believe I convinced [host] Trevor Noah to let me do it. It had nothing to do with politics, but that is definitely one of the highlights of my tenure at The Daily Show.”

5. He’s a Harry Potter fan

“There are a lot of parallels between politics and the Harry Potter narrative,” Minhaj says, who frequently references J.K. Rowling’s fantasy novels in his comedy. “Like the Comey investigation. Is he a good guy now? I thought he was the bad guy!”