Hasan Minhaj has responded to criticism he received after he admitted to fabricating details about his life in his stand-up comedy routines.
In a recent profile for The New Yorker, the comedian admitted to adding details to stories that he told in his stand-up specials.
“Every story in my style is built around a seed of truth,” Minhaj said. “My comedy Arnold Palmer is 70% emotional truth — this happened — and then 30% hyperbole, exaggeration, fiction.”
For example, Minhaj pointed to a story he told in his stand-up special for Netflix “The King’s Jester.” In the story, he said an envelope with white powder was sent to his home. His young daughter was exposed to the power, so Minhaj and his wife rushed her to the hospital, fearing the powder was anthrax. Thankfully, it was not.
In the profile, Minhaj admitted his daughter was never exposed to the power or hospitalized.
One person said they felt it was wrong to fabricate a story about receiving threats when journalists have actually been harmed or killed because of their work.
Minhaj also admits to fabricating a story about an FBI agent who infiltrated the mosque his family attended in Sacramento, California.
One person also pointed out that if white journalists like Clare Malone, who wrote the profile, wanted to discuss the fabricated stories dealing with racism and social issues they should also address the racism in the industry.
People have also called for a discussion of an industry that forces people of color to sell their stories of racism and hardship to get a foot in the door.
Minhaj has released his own statement to Variety:
“All my standup stories are based on events that happened to me. Yes, I was rejected from going to prom because of my race,” he said in the statement. “Yes, a letter with powder was sent to my apartment that almost harmed my daughter. Yes, I had an interaction with law enforcement during the war on terror. Yes, I had varicocele repair surgery so we could get pregnant. Yes, I roasted Jared Kushner to his face.”
“I use the tools of standup comedy—hyperbole, changing names and locations, and compressing timelines to tell entertaining stories. That’s inherent to the art form,” he added. “You wouldn’t go to a Haunted House and say ‘Why are these people lying to me?’—The point is the ride. Standup is the same.”
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