- Responding to allegations made in a recent New Yorker article, the Indian American comedian says he wanted to recreate for a broad audience, the feeling only Muslims felt — paranoia and vindication, tension and release.
Hasan Minhaj has broken his silence about the New Yorker expose alleging that some of the supposedly autobiographical stories the Indian American has used in his routines were found to be embellished. Now the comedian, actor, writer, and producer has released a video, aiming to answer the most important question since the Sept. 15 article came out: “Is Hasan Minhaj a fake artist who used racism and Islamaphobia to advance his career?”
The 21-minute video is embellished with graphics, he offers a detailed explanation. “I have been asked by a lot of people to give my perspective on what is happening.” He says he “took a beat before responding because, like you, I have been paralyzed by the news coming out of the Middle East, and I have been processing all the criticism that has come my way.” However, “being accused of ‘faking racism’ is not trivial,” he continues, adding: “It’s very serious, and it demands an explanation.”
Apologizing to “anyone who felt betrayed or hurt by my stand-up,” he says “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 accuses the New Yorker article of making him look like “a psycho,” which he says he’s not. “It was so needlessly misleading, not just about my stand-up, but also about me as a person,” he continues. “The truth is, racism, FBI surveillance, and the threats to my family happened. And I said this on the record.” He also apologizes in the video for commingling fact and fiction in both instances but says that his stand-up work — as opposed to his time on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show or Netflix’s Patriot Act, which did employ fact-checkers — allows for more artistic license.
In the video, he addresses specific parts of his routines which were described as being untrue by The New Yorker including several anecdotes from his standup routines where he often shared harrowing experiences he’s faced as a South Asian American and a Muslim American. “
“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,” he says. “That is why the fact-checking on the 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. “I wanted to recreate that feeling — that only Muslims felt — for a broad audience, the feeling of paranoia and vindication, tension and release.”
Although the guy described in the New Yorker article is “a proper f______g psycho,” Minhaj hopes that people “feel like the real me is not,” he concludes. “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 note, and I hope to see you at the next show.”