Hasan Minhaj Credits ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘Patriot Act’ for Making ‘The Morning Show’ Easy

The Morning Show Season 2 tells the story of what goes down behind-the-scenes of your favorite morning news show. The Apple TV+ show alleges that the smiling, folksy anchors who greet you every morning aren’t just faking their friendships; they’re backstabbing one another at every turn. Entering the fray in The Morning Show Season 2? A new UBA anchor played by a familiar face in the world of fictional news: Hasan Minhaj‘s Eric Normani.

Comedian Hasan Minhaj first exploded onto the scene when he became a correspondent for one of the most illustrious news satire shows, The Daily Show in 2014. For four years, Minhaj worked on field segments, sketches, and in-studio bits lampooning the news and illuminating grave injustices in the world. In 2018, Netflix ordered Minhaj’s solo late night show, Patriot Act, which ran until cancellation in 2020.

Needless to say, Minhaj has a lot of experience playing the part of a news anchor, but his new Morning Show character is still a departure for the comic. Eric Normani is Bradley Jackson’s new co-anchor and — it’s revealed — a behind-the-scenes rival for a coveted gig hosting UBA’s evening news show. Decider caught up with Hasan Minhaj a few weeks back to talk about the transition from news comedy to news drama and how wild it was singing and dancing with Reese Witherspoon…

Hasan Minhaj and Reese Witherspoon in The Morning Show Season 2
Photo: Apple TV+

DECIDER: I think the first question I have for you is, what was it like to transition from someone who is known in his comedy career for doing stuff like The Daily Show and Patriot Act, which are obviously rooted in news commentary, to play a fictional news anchor in a drama? What was the most helpful from your background and what was the most challenging?

HASAN MINHAJ: Yeah, you know for the past seven years I’ve played a fake TV anchor on [laughs] on television, so this was a natural transition for me. I didn’t have to work really hard. I think I had years and years of preparation. Thank you to The Daily Show and thank you to everyone at Patriot Act. I know how to read a prompter and read copy directly to camera, so that was easy. It was a no brainer. I could do all of my takes in one take, which is really lovely.

I think that doing drama and doing big song and dance numbers was new for me [laughs] So that was a stretch and thats why I really love the show. I was already a fan of the show, but then getting to join the show and then stretch my own limitations, and start to do drama and start to do bigger, deeper pieces outside of comedy was really fun.

Okay, speaking of the song and dance number, I was just really curious what that was like to choreograph that with Reese. What was like, the mood on set that day? Were you guys kind of…cringing about it as much as much as your characters might have been on set?

I’m gonna be honest with you, I really loved it. I leaned right into it. The day before we had a rehearsal day where I had to learn the moves with the choreographer. We had to go to the studio to put down vocals; those are our actual vocals that you hear in episode 201 [laughs]. That’s me singing, that’s Resse singing, and so, that night in the hotel I was telling myself, I’m like, “Listen man, you gotta show her up. You’re gonna meet her for the first” — it was our first day on set, working together — so I was like, “You gotta come in here and show her the steps” .

So, I came in, I had all the moves memorized, I was like, “five, six, seven, eight.” I really… I really went after it. I was trying to be Indian Channing Tatum.

Hasan Minhaj in the Morning Show Season 2
Photo: Apple TV+

Well, I was convinced. But on that note, we get a little bit of a glimpse at what Eric and Bradley’s relationship is like on the show. Obviously not everything is as it seems, but they seem to get along better than a lot of the other pairings we get on The Morning Show. What is your take on their relationship, and what was it like to work with Reese in that capacity?

Yeah, so Reese is America’s sweetheart. She’s lovely, she’s an amazing human being. She’s bubbly and she’s funny and she’s just really sweet, and she was really welcoming. She was like, “Welcome to our show” and “Thanks for joining us,” and…that was really awesome of her because, you know, she has so many things that she’s doing. She’s running a company and running a show and she’s in, like, four different shows and a movie and…she’s doing so many different things, and for her to be that welcoming to me and say “Hey, thank you so much for joining the show. I saw your audition tape. We loved your audition tape. Thank you for being a part of it.” That was really fun.

And then just having moments in between takes with her was really great. Asking her questions about how to drop into a scene, how to retake scenes, how she prepares… that was really, really, really fun. And I learned so much, I’m very lucky that I got a chance to do that.

And what is your take on Eric and Bradleys relationship? Because, there’s a moment in a dressing room with Alex in a later episde, where he kind of wants to, you know, “shit talk” his coworkers [laughs]. But before that he seems really nice!

Yeah… I think Eric comes to UBA… If you saw Season 1 of the show, there’s been a huge implosion and shakeup at UBA. The Morning Show is imploding, UBA is imploding, Corey is on the rocks and Alex Levy leaves the show. And Eric, my character, comes in to co-host The Morning Show. He comes to find out everyone at UBA [laughs] has issues. I’ll put it simply. Like [everybody] has definite issues.

And one of the things is, just like anybody in news media, or anybody who’s trying to climb the ranks in any business (a highly competitive business), Eric is trying to get his. Alex is trying to get hers and Bradley is trying to get hers. One of the things that I love most about the show is everybody thinks they’re the protagonist and the hero of their own story. They are doing the right thing. So Eric thinks he’s doing the right thing. He’s coming to The Morning Show and he is here to add diversity, add youth, add charisma, add charm…and Bradly, she has some entitlement issues, you know? As you know she has this kinship with Cory, and she thinks the show is hers, she thinks certain promotions belong to her…and those two things are now at odds, when you have diverging interests.

Reese Witherspoon and Hasan Minhaj in a fake Times Square in The Morning Show Season 2
Photo: Apple TV+

Totally changing gears, the Times Square scene seemed like a lot of fun. What was it like shooting that? Because it obviously wasn’t Times Square, as far as I know-


Can you talk me through how you guys brought Times Square to life?

So we shot that Times Square New Years Eve scene in the desert in California…and this is how much money Apple has. We shot this during [laughs] — we shot this during a pandemic. So Time Square was empty, and I was like, “You know 42nd and 8th is completely empty. There will be nobody will be crossing the frame. [Laughs]” And they were like, “No, no, no, no, no! We need to do those ridiculous red steps and the M&M store… from the Mojave Desert.”

And we did it. We did it in the desert, which was wild. It was freezing cold and we shot [laughs] we shot that in the desert. It’s pretty incredible. Apple spared no expense and they did an amazing job, just creating this… incredibly sprawling world. And you see that- it comes through the screen.

You mentioned that you were a fan of the first season. Were there any characters from the first season that you wish your character had a chance to interact with in Season 2 that weren’t able to?

I think it would have been pretty iconic if my character Eric would have ran into Mindy Kaling’s character. I think that would have been a very like, “Hey, what are you doing here?” [moment]. That would have been a very cool Spiderman meme moment of this weird Indian American, comedian, Brown icon, Marvel Cinematic Universe crossover. That would have been really epic and cool. I thought that could have been fun.

Where to stream The Morning Show

source: nypost.com