Indian American Comedian Kal Penn Snags an Interview With President Biden as Guest Host of The Daily Show
- It is an impressive display of the actor and activist’s political connections, which might come in handy as he seeks to land a permanent gig with the show that was hosted by Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah.
President Biden remembers clearly his “epiphany” that cemented his views on marriage equality. As a high school senior, he “hadn’t thought much about it,” until one day as his father was dropping him off when they saw “two well-dressed men in suits” kiss. “And I’ll never forget it. I turned and looked at my dad, he said, ‘Joey, it’s simple. They love each other.’” Biden made the revelation during an interview broadcast on March 13, with Kal Penn, who was guest hosting The Daily Show on Comedy Central.
The Indian American actor and former White House staffer has been engaged to his partner, Josh, for the last five years. Penn then asked the President what “the federal government might be able to do to protect LGBTQ Americans, especially trans kids, who are dealing with all of these regressive state laws that are popping up.” Describing the anti-trans legislation as “just cruel,” Biden focused on the latest developments in Florida. “What’s going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, close to sinful. I mean, it’s just terrible what they’re doing.” He was referring to regressive measures introduced by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s expected to announce his 2024 bid soon, restricting the rights of transgender people.
The president spoke about a divided country and how young people’s advocacy can help policy on climate, drilling and human rights. “That generation is between 18 and 35 now. They’re the ones who created the space,” the President said. “They had enough of it. They had enough of it.”
President Biden also told Penn that he’d never thought of running for the White House, but the 2017 incident where a group of white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, prompted him. He did it for three reasons. “To restore the soul of the country, to begin to take care of the middle class, and to unite the country.”
Penn is among several comedians who have been hosting the show since Trevor Noah left the show, including Hasan Minhaj, Al Franken, Chelsea Handler, D.L. Hughley, Leslie Jones, John Leguizamo, Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes and Marlon Wayans.
PrimeTimer noted that while “Penn is somewhat of a wild card in the current pool of guest hosts, the combination of experience in politics and ability to embrace comedy at its silliest proved to be a winning one for his first night as guest host.” He worked at the White House as the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs under Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011. During that time, he took a brief break to film “A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas.”
Last December, Variety magazine named Penn among the potential people that could replace Noah. “The Paramount Global network could look for a host well-versed in political comedy, or simply someone who has straddled the divide between Hollywood and Washington,” Variety said. “People like Samantha Bee, the former “Daily Show” correspondent, or Kal Penn, the actor who logged a stint in the Obama administration and hosted a short-lived late-night show on Disney’s Freeform, could have the experience Comedy Central is seeking.”
Speaking about the article on “The Late Late Show With James Corden,” Penn told the host that he’s open to hosting the show. He said he “grew up on Jon Stewart’s TV show, so obviously, I revere Trevor Noah, so the mere fact that I was even mentioned in an article like that is a huge honor, I feel like I should leave it at that,” he said. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to have that opportunity? It’s a show that I think many of us grew up on and just really appreciate.” Penn recently appeared on the Late Show with Steven Colbert where he again gushed about his hope to host The Daily Show.