New Yorker profile finds comedian Hasan Minhaj made up stories about racism against Muslims in the US

News & Politics

A New Yorker profile found that Muslim comedian Hasan Minhaj had exaggerated or outright fabricated details and events he told about racism and discrimination in the U.S.

A reporter for the New Yorker tried to confirm the details in many of the stories with people involved, but found they were inaccurate.

“In Minhaj’s approach to comedy, he leans heavily on his own experience as an Asian American and Muslim American, telling harrowing stories of law enforcement entrapment and personal threats. For many of his fans, he has become an avatar for the power of representation in entertainment. But, after many weeks of trying, I had been unable to confirm some of the stories that he had told onstage,” wrote Clare Malone.

She said that Minhaj had confirmed that many of the stories were untrue but that he stood by his work.

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“Every story in my style is built around a seed of truth,” he said. “My comedy Arnold Palmer is seventy percent emotional truth — this happened — and then thirty percent hyperbole, exaggeration, fiction.”

In one story, Minhaj claimed that someone had sent him an envelope with white powder and he was afraid that he might have exposed his daughter to anthrax.

Another anecdote had to do with an undercover FBI agent who had supposedly investigated Minhaj’s mosque.

“The punch line is worth the fictionalized premise,” said Minhaj to Malone.

Another alarming incident involved his exaggerating a supposedly racist incident with a white family while he was in high school. The target of his anecdote claimed that she had received online threats over his story but that he only suggested that she scrub her social media presence to deter more threats.

Many people online reacted to the New Yorker expose with disgust.

“I rolled my eyes when I first saw today’s Hasan Minhaj article because we all exaggerate and edit stories for the stage but after reading it I’m actually floored, this is psychotic behavior and it defeats the entire purpose of standup comedy,” replied comedian Jeremy McLellan.

“Yes, comedians are allowed creative liberties,” responded comedian Sarah Harvard. “But Hasan Minhaj brands himself more than just a comedian. He branded himself as a truth teller with journalistic integrity. So telling lies that exploit the traumas of our communities and masquerading it as truth is gross.”

Minhaj was floated as a possible host for “The Daily Show,” but the expose has cast a dark cloud on his future.

Here’s more about the Minhaj controversy:

Hasan Minhaj Admits to Embellishing Stand-Up Stories, Defends “Emotional Truth” | THR

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