The comedian admitted in an interview with 'The New Yorker' that his stories — some of which were featured in his 2022 Netflix standup special, 'The King’s Jester' — were "30% hyperbole, exaggeration, fiction"
When it comes to his standup comedy material, Hasan Minhaj isn't afraid to bend the truth.
The comedian, 37, who has made a name for himself in pop culture and on stage with comedy routines largely steeped in his experience as an Asian American and Muslim American, admitted to The New Yorker in a profile published on Friday that his standup stories were “30% hyperbole, exaggeration, fiction.”
In a statement to PEOPLE, Minhaj says: "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. 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. I use the tools of standup comedy — hyperbole, changing names and locations, and compressing timelines to tell entertaining stories. 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 New Yorker independently confirmed that several of Minhaj's stories were exaggerated or partly fabricated, including an anecdote from Minhaj’s 2022 Netflix standup special, The King’s Jester, about an FBI informant who infiltrated his family’s mosque and a meeting the comedian had with the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. to explore the possibility of interviewing Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman just prior to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
On the train ride back to New York after his meeting, Minhaj claimed that people sent him concerned texts asking if he okay and whether he was "watching the news," referring to Khashoggi's death.
In truth, Minhaj confessed he'd changed the timelines: his meeting with the Saudi Embassy occurred at least a month before the news of Khashoggi's murder broke. But Minhaj said he made his narrative choice to “make it feel the way it felt.”
“[My] day-to-day life is not very interesting or compelling,” Minhaj explained to The New Yorker. “My comedy storytelling certainly has to be.”
The comedian added that every story “in my style” is built around “a seed of truth."
“My comedy Arnold Palmer is 70% emotional truth — this happened — and then 30% hyperbole, exaggeration, fiction,” he added.
Another example from The King’s Jester was when Minhaj told the story of a letter sent to his home filled with a suspicious white powder that spilled onto his daughter, who was rushed to the hospital (and ultimately deemed fine). Although the comedian explained an envelope was indeed sent to his home, the rest of his tale never happened.
“The emotional truth is first,” he told the outlet, rationalizing his decisions. “The factual truth is secondary.”
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Minhaj is no stranger to addressing backlash. After appearing on Celebrity Jeopardy! in November 2022, the comedian was deemed "annoying" and "painfully unfunny" by social media users. One critic went so far as to call Minhaj the worst contestant in Jeopardy! history.
During a sit-down with Jimmy Fallon on an episode of The Tonight Show following his appearance, Minhaj announced, "This past week I was on Celebrity Jeopardy! and now fans of Jeopardy! hate my guts. I have this unique power to piss off dedicated nerds."
Minhaj insisted that he "was just playing with vigor and passion," and later joked about being called the "most annoying contestant."
"That one hurt because, you know, the show's been on for over 58 years — and they've had 15,000 contestants on the show. And Dr. Oz was a contestant," he quipped. "Maybe my dad was wrong. He said I'd never break records on that show."
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.