The New Yorker responded to Hasan Minhaj's 20-minute clarification video in a statement to PEOPLE saying "we stand by our story," which stated that the comedian allegedly fabricated jokes in his comedy special
Hasan Minhaj is answering the question he’s been met with recently: “are you a liar?”
The comedian shared a 20-minute response video to the viral September New Yorker profile that claimed Minhaj, 38, fabricates many of his jokes. Though the Patriot Act lead previously issued a statement saying “all my standup stories are based on events that happened to me,” he explored the “needlessly misleading” article in-depth with The Hollywood Reporter.
Minhaj’s video focused on three stories from his personal life that he’s used in comedy. They included enduring racism before prom, an at-home anthrax scare and Muslim profiling by local law enforcement.
“With everything that’s happening in the world, I’m aware even talking about this now feels so trivial,” Minhaj said in the clip. “But being accused of ‘faking racism’ is not trivial. It’s very serious, and it demands an explanation.”
He continued, “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.”
He addressed the “psycho” accusations head-on. “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.”
He issued an apology for anyone who felt “let down” by the jokes — though they were adopted from his real-life experience. “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 his explanations of the individual stories, Minhaj included audio recordings from his conversation with The New Yorker. For example, the prom scene — which appeared in his Netflix special Homecoming King — showed Minhaj being rejected by his prom date’s mother because he’s a “brown boy.” Minhaj confirmed that this actually happened, though, for comedic effect, he set the scene on the date’s doorstep. “I created the doorstep scene to drop the audience into the feeling of that moment, which I told the reporter,” Minhaj said, playing the audio back.
He continued, “They knew my rejection was due to race. I confirmed it on the record and provided corroborating evidence. And yet, they misled readers by excluding all of that and splicing two different quotes together to leave you thinking that I made up a racist incident.”
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Minhaj ended his video with a joke. “The guy in this article is a proper f---ing psycho, but I now hope you feel like the real me is not,” he said. “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.”
PEOPLE reached out to Minhaj for further comment.
The New Yorker, however, has since responded to Minhaj's video in a statement shared with PEOPLE. “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 publication said. “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.”
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