Hasan Minhaj admits to fabricating stories in stand-up specials

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Hasan Minhaj attends Sony Pictures "No Hard Feelings" premiere at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on June 20, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Comedian Hasan Minhaj told The New Yorker recently that some stories he’s told on stage – like harrowing tales about his family and Muslim discrimination post 9/11 – are untrue. It’s the first time the comedian has admitted to fudging the truth in his performances.

Minhaj is best known for his Peabody Award-winning show Patriot Act, stand-up specials like Homecoming King and his work on The Daily Show. He interviewed former President Barack Obama last summer, and according to The New Yorker, he’s on the short list to be The Daily Show’s next host.

In his 2022 Netflix special The King’s Jester, Minhaj said he once had an envelope filled with white powder sent to his home. He said the contents accidentally spilled onto his young daughter, who had to be rushed to the hospital. The powder turned out not to be anthrax – and the story Minhaj told on stage turned out not to be true.

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In another segment, Minhaj said police once slammed him against the hood of a car in 2002 after a white man and FBI informant infiltrated his mosque. That never happened either, he admitted to The New Yorker.


Hasan Minhaj and LSU women's basketball star Angel Reese at the 2023 ESPY Awards (Getty Images)

Minhaj stood by his work in the interview, calling it his "emotional truth."

"Every story in my style is built around a seed of truth," he told the publication. "My comedy Arnold Palmer is seventy per cent emotional truth—this happened—and then thirty per cent hyperbole, exaggeration, fiction."

"The punch line is worth the fictionalized premise," he said.

Read the full New Yorker profile here