Comedian Hasan Minhaj has responded to The New Yorker’s article that scrutinized fabrications within his stand-up routines, acknowledging embellishments, issuing his rebuttal and an apology to those feeling “betrayed.”
Made-up stories: In a 21-minute video released on Thursday, the 38-year-old comic directly addresses claims made in the Sept. 15 piece by Clare Malone, accusing The New Yorker of publishing a “needlessly misleading” article about him.
“With everything that’s happening in the world, I’m aware even talking about this now feels so trivial,” notes Minhaj in the video. “But being accused of ‘faking racism’ is not trivial. It’s very serious, and it demands an explanation… I want to answer the biggest question that’s probably on your mind: Is Hasan Minhaj secretly a psycho? Underneath all that pomade, is Hasan Minhaj just a con artist who uses fake racism and Islamophobia to advance his career? Because after reading that article, I would also think that.”
Minhaj’s defense: Minhaj goes on to defend his artistic choices, citing the need to emphasize broader truths about racism and community threats.
“I took a beat before responding because, like you, I have been paralyzed by the news coming out of the Middle East, and I have been processing all the criticism that has come my way. And I just want to say to anyone who felt betrayed or hurt by my stand-up, I am sorry. I made artistic choices to express myself and drive home larger issues affecting me and my community, and I feel horrible that I let people down.”
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter
, Minhaj explained that he made the video to “give people the context and materials I provided The New Yorker” because there were “omissions and factual errors in The New Yorker article that misrepresented my life story.”
Specific Incidents: Minhaj then proceeds to explain how his interview with The New Yorker was misconstrued, providing recordings as evidence.
Among the several fabrications highlighted in the article is an anecdote involving Minhaj’s high school prom, where he described a rejection by his date’s mother at her doorstep. Minhaj admitted that the encounter at the doorstep did not happen as he portrayed but insisted the essence of the rejection based on race was genuine.
Another instance revolved around a story in his 2022 stand-up where he claimed to have opened a letter filled with white powder intended for his daughter. Minhaj confirmed the inaccuracy, stating that while the incident with the powder occurred, he did not take his daughter to the hospital as depicted, emphasizing he aimed to convey the fear and shock experienced.
Minhaj also acknowledged embellishing an incident of being slammed against a police car by an FBI informant. He clarified the reality, where he faced harassment during a basketball game, though he intended to encapsulate the feelings of paranoia and tension experienced by Muslims post-9/11 for a broader audience.
Reactions: In response to Minhaj’s video, The New Yorker and Malone took to social media to state that they stand by the article.
“Hasan Minhaj confirms in this video that he selectively presents information and embellishes it to make a point: exactly what we reported. Our piece, which includes Minhaj’s perspective at length, was carefully reported and fact-checked. It is based on interviews with more than twenty people, including former ‘Patriot Act’ and ‘Daily Show’ staffers; members of Minhaj’s security team; and people who have been the subject of his standup work, including the former F.B.I. informant ‘Brother Eric’ and the woman at the center of his prom-rejection story. We stand by our story.”