Nathan Fielder is the current reigning champion of ethically dubious comedy, but apparently, Hasan Minhaj found a line even he wouldn’t cross. Minhaj’s new Netflix special The King’s Jester explores some of his regrets in pushing a bit too far, which includes certain actions surrounding the controversial Saudi Arabia episode of Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj. In a new interview with The Daily Beast, the comedian admits that he tried to recruit Fielder for a potentially dangerous prank.
“Even after it happened and the episode got taken down and my Hajj visa was denied, I had this idea where, in Islam, if you can’t make your pilgrimage, somebody can make it on your behalf. So God has created this little loophole. So I said, how can we make a sketch out of this? I feel like this would be kind of the ultimate long con,” he explains. “So I called Nathan Fielder, and I go, ‘Nate, have you ever considered Islam? I know you love reporting from the field. What if you converted to Islam? You know, Muslims and Jews, we are cousins, we both come from Abraham, let’s just do this. You go down. You make your pilgrimage on my behalf. We come back and, you know, maybe we go on CBS Sunday Morning and let the Saudis know, ‘Hey, no autocratic power can inhibit my connection to God.’”
“I remember Nate said something that was so chilling now that I think about it. He goes, ‘Could this get me hurt?’ And Matt, he meant it sincerely,” Minhaj tells writer Matt Wilstein. “‘Would this get me hurt? Would they kill me?’ He’s like, ‘Dude, I don’t know. I think the idea is brilliant. I think it’s so funny. But…’”
In some ways, it’s a badge of honor to find a bit too extreme for Nathan Fielder—but as Minhaj notes, “[This] isn’t, ‘I’m gonna create a restaurant called Dumb Starbucks.’ This is, ‘I’m gonna fly to Saudi Arabia and pull this off with cameras.’ There is a delta of danger here that a lot of Americans don’t know. Safety is assumed in the States.”
Today, Minhaj says he’s relieved they “didn’t go through with it,” adding, “But I’m also kind of ashamed at myself that to pursue comedy and to pursue a bit, I’d be willing to put myself and another person’s life in danger. That’s not cool, man.”