‘I use the tools of standup,’ Hasan Minhaj admits to embellishing stories of racial discrimination in his stand-up

Comedian Hasan Minhaj has confessed that he sometimes lies on stage to make his jokes more funny and dramatic.

Hasan Minhaj arrives at the ESPY awards on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The former ‘The Daily Show’ correspondent, who starred in the 2022 Netflix special ‘The King’s Jester,’ told the New Yorker that he often exaggerates or invents details in his stand-up stories, which are based on a “seed of truth.”

“My comedy Arnold Palmer is 70% emotional truth this happened and then 30% hyperbole, exaggeration, fiction,” Minhaj said in an interview on Friday.

However, he insisted that he was not deceiving his audience, but rather using the tools of his craft to entertain them.

“I use the tools of standup comedy hyperbole, changing names and locations, and compressing timelines to tell entertaining stories,” he quoted to The New York Post.

“That’s inherent to the art form. 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.”

The comedian gave some examples of how he embellished his stories for comedic effect.

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In ‘The King’s Jester,’ he recounted how a letter with white powder was sent to his home, and how he panicked when his daughter got some of it on her. He claimed that he rushed her to the hospital, where the doctor told him that the powder was harmless. He also said that his wife threatened to leave him if he ever endangered their kids again.

According to Minhaj, the letter with white powder was real, but his daughter was never exposed to it or taken to the hospital. He also admitted that his wife did not say those harsh words to him.

Another story that the California native fabricated was about a white FBI informant named Brother Eric who infiltrated his mosque in Sacramento when he was a teenager.

Minhaj said that he joked with Brother Eric about getting a pilot’s license, which led to him being tackled by the police.

The 37-year-old revealed that this story was inspired by a time when he and his friends played basketball with some older men who they suspected were cops. One of them pushed Minhaj to the ground during a game.

Minhaj explained that he created these fictional characters and scenarios for himself in his comedy.

“No, I don’t think I’m manipulating [the audience],” he said.

“I think they are coming for the emotional roller-coaster ride…To the people that are, like, ‘Yo, that is way too crazy to happen,’ I don’t care because yes, fuck yes — that’s the point.”

Minhaj also defended his stand-up stories as being rooted in real events that happened to him.

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“All my standup stories are based on events that happened to me. Yes, I was rejected from going to prom because of my race. Yes, a letter with powder was sent to my apartment that almost harmed my daughter,” he claimed in his statement.

“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.”

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