TV

Why Aasif Mandvi Should Be The Next ‘Daily Show’ Host: A Case In 5 Clips

We’re still looking for the next host of The Daily Show, and because today is Aasif Mandvi’s 49th birthday, it seems like a good time to look at why he would be a qualified candidate. With nine years on the staff, he clearly has the experience. More importantly, his commentary over the years has been insightful and hilarious. Let’s look at five moments that make the best case for Mandvi as the best choice to succeed Jon Stewart.

When he took down voter suppression and got a racist politician to lose his job.
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In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act, which was a crucial piece of legislation that went a long way in ending racist voting laws such as poll taxes. When the law was struck down, several states, including North Carolina, put in new controversial (and by “controversial,” I mean “racist”) measures to subtly prevent African-Americans, and anyone likely to vote Democrat from voting. This segment was a thorough take down of these measures, but perhaps more importantly, it lead to a racist politician resigning. Don Yelton, a Republican official, included multiple N-bombs in an interview without much prodding from Mandvi, who at one point asked, “You know we can hear you, right?” The affair lead to Yelton resigning, although he refused to apologize. If nothing else, thanks to this segment, there was one less racist politician in power, which we can all agree is a good thing.

His response to the death threats Trey Parker and Matt Stone received for portraying Muhammad.

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Admittedly, Mandvi appears for only a minute in this 10-minute clip, but his comments here are both thoughtful and hilarious. In April 2010, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone received death threats after portraying the prophet Muhammad on an episode of the show. Of course, he was in a bear suit, and it then turned out to be Santa Claus in the bear suit, but that evidently didn’t matter. Mandvi admits that a portrayal of Muhammad — even in a cartoon — would make him uncomfortable, but he also denounced the death threats as “so 12th century” and lamented that these are the reasons why he has to wear a suit with a giant American flag on the back. Did he have it custom-made? No, it was from Tommy Hilfiger. But he still had to buy it.


When he found out what scientists were *really* up to.

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This was a master class in The Daily Show‘s grand tradition of taking a stupid stance on an issue in order to demonstrate how stupid it is. This time, Mandvi interviews a Republican strategists who firmly believe that scientists are trying to grift the country by studying things like climate change. What’s amazing is how utterly oblivious she was to the foolish things Mandvi suggested. Shouldn’t people other than surgeons be allowed to perform surgery? “Absolutely,” she replied. This segment is a bit sad, but mostly, it’s funny as hell.

When he looked at the high number of farmers sued by Monsanto.

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Okay, the debate over genetically modified foods is a long, complicated one, which I don’t think we’ll be able to solve today. But it’s hard not to be appalled by the legal practices of Monsanto, which targets hundreds of small, not-particularly-wealthy farms each year over patent infringement. Mandvi does a brilliant job of dissecting this process here, once again deliberately taking the wrong side of the debate in order to illustrate how wrong it is. The segment ends with a fantastic parody of the Reagan-era “morning in America” ads, and this time, it’s not morning for the farmers, but rather for the wealthy corporate attorneys who are suing them.

When he managed to draw a comparison between the Charlie Hebdo attacks and Nazi cows.

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In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, The Daily Show looked for a story that would distract us from the terrible tragedy. They seemed to found one with Nazi cows. Yes, actual cows that were bred by Nazis. The breed had re-appeared in England and were too aggressive. As it turned out, however, there was actually a strong parallel between the cows and the Hebdo attack. When Stewart asked Mandvi why the cows are behaving this way, Mandvi responded, “What am I supposed to speak for all cows?” A clear allusion to the idea that Muslims — like Mandvi — had some obligation to condemn the attacks. The comparison goes further. These cows don’t represent all cows. Most cows are peaceful. You just can’t reason with these particular cows! It was a genius was to look at a difficult situation and was an example of The Daily Show‘s satire at its best.

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