Hasan Minhaj has returned with a handful of receipts.
The New Yorker article discussed how details from his stand-up specials Homecoming King (2017) and The King’s Jester (2022) were “emotional truths” based on stories like a prom rejection based on his race, undercover law enforcement spying on his Muslim community, and an anthrax scare with his family.
For instance, according to the New Yorker, the Patriot Act host shared a story about how he received a last-minute rejection from a white woman because her family didn’t want to be seen with a “brown boy.” Elements of the article implied that she and Hasan “interpreted the rejection differently,” possibly leading to a consensus that he made up the reason for the rejection altogether.
Most coverage of this topic, including my own, unfortunately, painted Hasan in a bad light, even if my original intention was to highlight that “personal anecdotes, satirical comedy occasionally takes some creative license in the form of hyperbole, irony, or ridicule,” and his “emotional truths” shouldn’t be a big deal.
Now, in a 20-minute deep dive presented by the Hollywood Reporter, Hasan is setting the record straight on how, allegedly, the conversations and information he initially provided weren’t fully portrayed in the final New Yorker article.
“There were omissions and factual errors in the New Yorker article that misrepresented my life story, so I wanted to give people the context and materials I provided the New Yorker with full transparency,” Hasan said.
“With everything that’s happening in the world, I’m aware even talking about this now feels so trivial,” Hasan added. “But being accused of ‘faking racism’ is not trivial. It’s very serious, and it demands an explanation.”
In the video, he explained through emails and text messages that there were allegedly context and details omitted from the New Yorker story that would explain when and where exactly he took creative liberties with stories, and faking racism and Islamophobia was not one of them.
In a major reveal, Hasan shared an email exchange that he claimed proves the rejection being based on racism/Islamaphobia was true. He also said it was provided to the New Yorker, despite not being included.
He then showed that the woman he claimed felt pressured to reject him because of her family's beliefs responded. While the woman’s response doesn’t directly confirm that the real-life inspiration for the prom rejection in Hasan’s story was based on racism, she doesn’t refute Hasan’s implication of that in the previous email, and she alludes to it in saying that she thinks her “parents have come a long way too” when talking about her interracial marriage.
“The reason I feel horrible is because I’m not a psycho. But this New Yorker article definitely made me look like one. It was so needlessly misleading, not just about my stand-up but also about me as a person. The truth is, racism, FBI surveillance, and the threats to my family happened. And I said this on the record.”
The New Yorker did issue a response to his video that stated:
“Hasan Minhaj confirms in this video that he selectively presents information and embellishes 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 stand-up 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."
Later in Hasan’s video, he elaborated on the differences between his stand-up specials and his comedy on satirical news programs. “With [The Daily Show or Patriot Act], the truth comes first. Comedy sometimes comes second to make the infotainment, the sugar on the medicine. In this [stand-up], the emotional truth is first, the factual truth is secondary,” he said.
Hasan finished the video by saying, “The guy in this article is a proper fucking psycho, but I now hope you feel like the real me is not. I’m just a guy with IBS and low sperm motility. Again, there is much more important news happening in the world right now that needs your attention. So I appreciate you watching, I take the note, and I hope to see you at the next show.”
Watch Hasan’s full response video here.
Many fans are throwing their support behind Hasan following the release of this video response, and here’s what they’re saying:
I just wanna say… a white person would NEVER have to come out with an in depth analysis + apology the way Hasan Minhaj had to regarding that NYT article. He’s a comedian…part of his job is to exaggerate story telling and convey a larger message wrapped in humour + white lies
— Ayizur🍒 (@CherryGallette) October 26, 2023
One fan on YouTube wrote, "The fact that you would go to these lengths to explain your process to explain your intention speaks to who you are, your integrity, and your sense of compassion/responsibility. Comedy is storytelling…anyone who appreciates the art understands that elements are sewn together to keep the audience engaged. It’s been done for decades. I’ve seen you live twice and have watched every bit of content you’ve created. Don’t let this rock you. Your voice, your storytelling, and your education are needed. I hate that this happened."
One thing I learned from the Hasan Minhaj/New Yorker debacle is that all black & brown folks must ALWAYS record their own interactions with white journalists/news organizations. You never know when you might need to bring out receipts.
— Tazeen 🍉 (@tazeen) October 26, 2023
Another person on YouTube wrote, "You're telling me 100% of standup comedians told the truth 100% of the time until him? C'mon. Just saw him last week, he addressed it there and the audience proudly cheered for him to keep doing his thing. You rock bro, keep doing your thing."
A YouTube user brought up a possible dynamic that contributed to Hasan's controversy, writing, "As a minority in the U.S I know what it's like to have to defend yourself daily to prove your doubters wrong. Some people will try to take you down because they can, maybe you don't look like them or not in the same culture. They will try to make it like you don't belong. Do not let this get in your head, and keep up the good work."