Hasan Minhaj (Photo: Netflix)

The comedy special to watch

Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King

“[Hasan] Minhaj, with his boyish handsomeness and his California bro’s swagger (the special is filmed in Minhaj’s hometown of Davis) comes out of the gate dropping a clutter of pop cultural signposts (Drake, YOLO, comic books, #blessed, and the like) that belie the tightly written, startlingly heartfelt nature of his show. Making great use of a strategically deployed slideshow backdrop for emphasis, Minhaj takes us on a whirlwind tour of his life growing up alone until the age of 8 with his chemist father, his mother having remained behind in India to finish her medical degree. While comedians making jokes about their parents’ eccentricities isn’t new, Minhaj locks onto his theme of father-son conflict with a deceptively light touch that carries through the entire set. When a friend’s parents ask the teenaged Minhaj what he really likes to do, he answers, baffled, ‘No one has ever asked me that before,’ referring to his father’s quick hand and rigidity as ‘a Guantanamo of the mind.’”
Read the rest of our review here.

The book to read


David Sedaris, Theft By Finding

“In this first of two books, essayist David Sedaris prints selected diary entries made between the years 1977 and 2002. But like much of Sedaris’ deceivingly simple prose, the enjoyment in Theft By Finding comes not from its very basic conceit but its sharp observations and bone-dry humor. It’s easy to read the diary pages contained in Theft By Finding as Sedaris’ first draft to some of his most celebrated works—the initial observation, joke, or insight that will later be fleshed out, put down here in the present tense… Late in the book there’s an unusually extended episode of the spiders living in his and Hugh’s country home that’s as laugh-out-loud funny as Sedaris’ best work. Diary entries shouldn’t be this good, but considering Sedaris’ output, it’s not surprising that this collection is a worthy addition to his name.”
Read the rest of our review here.

The podcast to listen to


Freakonomics Radio, “How Big Is My Penis? (And Other Things We Ask Google)

Former Google Data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz believes we’re all liars. According to him, men overstate how much sex they have, women understate how much porn they watch, and everyone denies the effect Super Bowl advertisements have on them—but only in person. Whereas people are hardwired to lie to others even in scientific surveys, Stephens-Davidowitz reasons an analysis of internet search data can shed more light on how truly weird humans can be. In his new book, Everybody Lies, he argues the anonymity of internet searches actually makes them a better measurement of people’s true thoughts and motivations, especially for taboo subjects.
Read about the rest of the week’s best podcasts here.

The video game to play


“In Coleridge’s poem The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, the cursed sailor is finally absolved when he finds the beauty in the luminescent sea creatures he had found repulsive before. The creatures remained the same, but the mariner’s perspective shifted to uncover something previously hidden to him. And so it is with Rime. It is an instillation, an interactive sculpture that gives you the tools and just enough of a mystery to fully see what surrounds you. We must understand exactly where we are before we can move forward. Rime may be the most recent in the now well-established genre of ‘kind of pretty, conflict-light adventures,’ but such a beautiful, intimate experience remains something to be excited about.”
Read our full review here.


The movie to watch

Long Strange Trip

“This movie doesn’t skimp on the arcana—not all of which will be common knowledge even to die-hards. And non-Deadheads? They should know that Long Strange Trip (which comes to Amazon Prime on June 2 after a limited theatrical release) is a strong piece of documentary filmmaking and not mere fan service. That’s evident in the way [director Amir] Bar-Lev uses those bits of Grateful Dead ephemera. He follows a narrative model mastered by Ken Burns, where seemingly minor tidbits from history serve as a way into something larger. For example, when Long Strange Trip digs into the culture and hierarchy of the band’s roadies, that soon winds its way into observations on what it cost to maintain the Dead’s enormous touring ‘Family,’ and then into a mention of how the pace of life on the road led to a shift from gentle psychedelics to harder drugs, which in turn made the complexity of the music onstage harder to achieve. Bar-Lev understands how the little things matter.”
Read the rest of our review here.