“With everything that’s happening in the world, I’m aware even talking about this now feels so trivial,” Minhaj, 38, said in a video statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, October 26. “But being accused of ‘faking racism’ is not trivial. It’s very serious, and it demands an explanation. To everyone who read that article, 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.”
Earlier this year, Minhaj’s comedy was the focus of a New Yorker investigation. A reporter allegedly found inaccuracies in several of Minhaj’s claims, including a story from his first Netflix special, Homecoming King, that alleged that a white girl rejected his prom invitation due to race.
“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,” he said in the Thursday video. “And 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.”
Minhaj then launched into a “tedious” deep-dive of the evidence that he, in part, told the truth and claimed that the New Yorker supposedly ignored those pieces ahead of publication. In the comedy special, Minhaj quipped that would-be date Bethany (whose name he changed to protect her anonymity) was barred from going to the school dance with a “brown boy” by her mom — on the night of prom — so their family wouldn’t see photos of the two teens.
“Bethany’s mom really did say that — it was just a few days before prom. I created the doorstep scene to drop the audience into the feeling of that moment, which I told the reporter,” Minhaj clarified before playing an audio recording of a conversation with the New Yorker reporter that corroborated his account.
Minhaj further claimed that his team “repeatedly” tried to provide the New Yorker with additional evidence to his point, which were allegedly excluded from the final copy of the article.
The Daily Show alum also mentioned two additional stories from his comedy routine that had been called into question by the New Yorker. Minhaj did admit on Thursday that he embellished stories about being harassed by law enforcement that was surveilling his family’s mosque and when he took his daughter — whom he shares with wife Beena Patel, along with a son — to a hospital for alleged anthrax exposure.
“I thought I had two different expectations built into my work: my work as a storytelling comedian and my work as a political comedian, where facts always come first,” Minhaj added, apologizing for taking “artistic license” in his stand-up. “That is why the fact-checking on [my Netflix show] Patriot Act was extremely rigorous. The fact-checking in my congressional testimony, deeply rigorous. … But in my work as a storytelling comedian, I assumed the lines between truth and fiction were allowed to be a bit more blurry.”
He continued: “In this [stand-up], the emotional truth is first, the factual truth is secondary. … The guy in this article is a proper f—king 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.”
The New Yorker, for its part, tells Us Weekly in a statement that “we stand by our story.”
“Hasan Minhaj confirms in this video that he selectively presents information and embellishes to make a point: exactly what we reported,” a spokesperson for the New Yorker says in a statement. “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.”
Us Weekly has reached out to Minhaj for comment.