The Jeremy Lin story book has many chapters, but a major, prevailing theme is that Lin is an Asian-American. This simple fact has lead to a lot of positivity in the Asian community but also to some negative and racist comments (and not just in comment sections and Twitter).
A few weeks ago, Indian actor/comedian Hasan Minhaj confronted this negativity in his Goatface Comedy sketch “The Truth with Hasan Minhaj.” In a humorous yet insightful way Minhaj touches on how the Asian community feels about Jeremy Lin and why he is a believer.
Watch the video and then check out my interview up with Hasan, where he talks about the racial issues of Linsanity, the future of Indians in basketball, and his hometown Sacramento Kings:Subscribe to UPROXX
Dime: For people who may not be familiar with your work, who is Hasan Minhaj?
Hasan Minhaj: I’m a Los Angeles based comedian/actor and am a member of a sketch group called Goatface Comedy.
Dime: As a fellow Indian I am a lil’ confused as to why you are not a computer scientist or doctor…how did you get into acting?
HM: Hilarious! So I started getting into comedy when I was in college. Growing up I didn’t have cable so I was hanging out with my friend one day and he was watching a comedy stand up special and I fell in love with it. I started going to open mics in the local area, went to college in Davis, and then moved to San Francisco to try and get as good as I could. San Francisco has a really good comedy scene – fellow comedians will support one another and people come out to shows. After a few years there I made the transition to L.A.
Dime: How did Goatface Comedy get started?
HM: Fahim Anwar and Aristotle Athiras, two members of the group, were already making videos on their own and were beginning to generate a lot of buzz. One of their videos called “Dominos” makes fun of those Dominos pizza tracker ads and it’s just genius. They reached out to me and Asif Ali because they had seen our stand ups and wanted to combine all of our powers together to make some dope stuff. Since we are all Brown we realized that at best we were just marginalized people on whatever shows or acting work we did. You know like the nerdy Indian dude or something like that…What’s cool is that with Goatface we all take turns being the leading man or the dude who pulls the girl. We do all of this without watering down the product and I think that’s what people respect about Goatface. We are presenting a perspective that they feel and may not see on the Internet.
Dime: Your Jeremy Lin video is called “The Truth with Hasan Minhaj,” is that going to be a regular series on Goatface?
HM: Our goal with Goatface is that every week there will be a new sketch along with a kind of man on the street video. My series is basically me just talking about what I’m really passionate about – anything topical that is happening whether its in the news or in sports.
Dime: With the Jeremy Lin sketch you touched on some racial issues like people photoshopping pictures of him shooting out hadoukens like he’s in Street Fighter…
HM: Did you see the sign that said “Asians can drive”? That’s so messed up, dude. I mean Linsanity shows where we are in society. People still think its okay to clown people of our ethnicity and race.
Dime: It’s interesting that you say “our” because growing up I always identified as Indian but not until in college did I think of myself as Asian…
HM: Here’s our connection: both Indian and East Asian cultures are united by the fact that they are a shame-based culture. What I mean by that is that across the board our parents use shame to get us to do stuff. I claim unity with any culture that goes through this because I know what its like to grow up like that. I’m talking about taking your shoes off in the house, taking mad AP classes, going to Kumon; they have tiger moms, we have Bengal tiger moms – the societal and cultural pressures are so similar that there is a bond. That’s why I have so much love for what Jeremy Lin is doing.
Dime: (Laughs) You said it perfectly. In “The Truth” you touch on the fact that Indians have not been that great at basketball and that right now our hope may rest with the Bhullar twins.
HM: Yeah, I have YouTube’d the Bhullar twins heavily but its sad, man. Watching them play is basically like watching molasses; they are slow and so immobile. I’m not too sure if they will pan out. There used to be this Indian basketball “legend” Pasha Bains who played for Clemson. He was like the dude but I think now he’s a coach. But I do look forward to the day when I’m wearing a NBA team’s jersey with that says “Patel” or some other Indian last name on the back.
Dime: You told me that you grew up in Sacramento and are a die hard Kings fan. What are your thoughts about the team this year?
HM: Being a Kings fan is the most heartbreaking thing in the world. Its like a microcosm of life because you can have all the talent in the world but in the end nothing may come of it. We do have a lot of bright spots – DeMarcus Cousins is great and I think Jimmer could be a quality player but we have our problems. I can’t really blame management because we have drafted well and I feel like Geoff Pietre has done pretty good with all that he has to work with.
Dime: Well, not all has been bad with the Kings in their history. What are some of your favorite moments?
HM: The early 2000s were great. I loved those teams, but its like I was talking about we came so close to the promised land but it didn’t matter. Sacramento was put on the map because of those teams; who could forget such great memories like Chris Webber‘s Dada commercial with Mary J. Blige singing the hook.
The Kings are my childhood, man. I remember going to my very first Kings game when I was seven years old because my dad bought a McDonald’s ticket pack thing where we got four tickets and some McDonald’s. So I went to the game with my dad and some of his co-workers. We sat way up in the nose bleeds and it was the Kings vs the Clippers. This was 1992 so both teams were atrocious but I fell in love with the Kings.
Dime: What’s the future for you and Goatface?
HM: We have a lot of great sketches coming out and I feel like there will be some more Jeremy Lin commentary on The Truth. We are also working on a pilot, which if it all works out you may see the start of the first Brown television show.
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