Weeks after a New Yorker article alleged fabrications in his comedy standup, Hasan Minhaj is speaking out. In a 20-minute video posted on his Instagram account Thursday, Minhaj rejects allegations in the article, saying “it was so needlessly misleading.” You can watch the video below.
“With everything that’s happening in the world, I’m aware even talking about this now feels so trivial,” Minhaj says in the video. “But being accused of ‘faking racism’ is not trivial. It’s very serious, and it demands an explanation.
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“To everyone who read that article,” he continued, “I want to answer the biggest question that’s probably on your mind: Is Hasan Minhaj secretly a psycho? Underneath all that pomp, 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.”
He continued, “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.”
“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.
He disputed the way the New Yorker specifically portrayed three stories in the article — the anthrax scare he talked about in his 2022 Netflix special Hasan Minhaj: The King’s Jester; the FBI informant story he shared in the same special; and the prom anecdote from his 2017 special Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King.
“The truth is, racism, FBI surveillance and threats to my family happened, and I said this on the record,” he said.
The New Yorker pushed back on Minhaj’s response in a statement on X (Fka Twitter):
“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 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.”
In Minhaj’s Netflix special Homecoming King, he tells a story of asking a white girl to prom, only to show up at her house and be told by her mother that her daughter won’t go with him because they feared she would be seen with someone brown.
“Bethany’s mom really did say that — it was just a few days before prom,” he says. “I created the doorstep scene to drop the audience into the feeling of that moment, which I told the reporter.”
In the video, Minhaj said he decided to share his response now, amid the ongoing “devastating and hopeless” news in the Middle East, because people have asked him if he’s a “liar”.
“Going forward, will I be more thoughtful about sticking to the facts in my storytelling? Absolutely,” he said. “I have no problem with honest, good-faith critique, because I am always trying to improve as a performer and as a person. Look, the guy in this article is a proper … psycho. But I now hope you feel like the real me is not.”
— Clare Malone (@ClareMalone) October 26, 2023
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