Sam Morril made the leap in the pandemic from YouTube to Netflix, and as an executive producer, he’s now helping Dina Hashem launch her debut special as an Amazon Original.
DINA HASHEM: DARK LITTLE WHISPERS: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: A writer on The Daily Show, Hashem’s other writing credits include the second season of The Sex Lives of College Girls, and she’ll both write and provide voiceover work on Amazon for Ramy Youssef’s upcoming A24 animated series, #1 HAPPY FAMILY USA.
As a stand-up comedian, Hashem made her late-night debut performing on Conan, and she also has performed on Comedy Central’s This Week at the Comedy Cellar as well as via their digital programs. for her debut solo special, she brings her deadpan delivery to bear upon her struggles with family, relationships, and growing up as a first-generation Arab-American.
What Comedy Specials Will It Remind You Of?: Her joke-writing and delivery do make her a logical choice for someone such as Sam Morril (or fans of his) seeking out like-minded and talented comedians.
Memorable Jokes: What would you do if you brother and sister-in-law approached you to serve as the surrogate mother for their child? “Don’t worry, I didn’t,” she jokes, but she’ll carry her thought process to term for the sake of the joke.
Hashem has more than a few quips at the expense of her Muslim father in abstentia. Among them: “If you see a woman holding a microphone, her dad is gone.” And she claims to have voted for Trump, but only “just to keep my dad out of the country.” Men like her father or Trump also get roasted, as do the people who fall for them, and she manages to mock society for loving con men, hating powerful men, and yet also packing movie theaters for the most powerful of men in superheroes.
And she has some wonderfully clever turns of phrase that in describing them would spoil them.
Suffice it to say, Hashem manages to make her struggle make sense across linguistic and cultural barriers, imagines a pitch meeting for cultural slogans to unite Americans following 9/11, and finds a smartly funny way to reverse-ransom her boyfriend (or yours) into paying for an abortion if need be.
Our Take: Hashem crafts sharp jokes.
But there’s nothing quite as sharp nor as jarring as the introduction to her special, which cuts from a hardcore head-banging musical number to the quiet intimacy of the space in Chicago’s Lincoln Lodge where she filmed this performance. So when she introduces herself to the audience by saying, “My vibe up here is usually kind of like tired, upset and confused,” it feels extra confusing based on what we’d just heard. What a wild surprise, then, to hit the end credits and learn that Hashem herself is to credit and/or blame for the blaring music, as we can watch and listen to her banging on the drums and then recording the barking noises and guttural screams that make up the vocals on opening track.
Is she going for enigmatic or merely showing us how she contains multitudes?
Her comedy takes her from finding solace in the bathroom growing up in a large family, to seeking out psychedelics to get through her quarantine in pandemic lockdown. But she also fantasizes about having a “benign coma,” such that she could snap out of it when nobody’s around, in which case she could continue faking a comatose condition when her family visits and milk it for all it’s worth.
At the same time, she’s unafraid and unashamed to talk about her bodily issues, whether it’s having finding out she has an unwanted pregnancy in another country, or that the pandemic gave her a brief respite from her otherwise messy intestinal issues. “I was dropping serious logs,” she boasted, but not any longer. If that’s too much for you, she’s not taken aback. “Some of you are acting like you don’t relate to that joke. And you’re cowards, just so you know.”
Our Call: STREAM IT. Hashem’s droll nature allows some of her more wicked observations to sneak up on you. Perhaps it’s best, then, that she hits audiences over the head with her music at the outset to make sure they’re alert and ready for what’s to come.
Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat. He also podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.