Hasan Minhaj confessed that the real-life stories he tells in his stand-up routine are more fiction than fact.
“Every story in my style is built around a seed of truth,” Minhaj, 37, said in an interview with The New Yorker published on Friday, September 15. “My comedy Arnold Palmer is 70% emotional truth — this happened — and then 30% hyperbole, exaggeration, fiction.”
Minhaj explained that the stories he tells in his jokes are based on an “emotional truth” despite not actually happening to him in the first place.“The punch line is worth the fictionalized premise,” he stated.
In his 2022 Netflix special, The King’s Jester, Minhaj recalled an alleged time he received an envelope with white powder at his home. In the bit, he said he assumed the substance was anthrax and the powder accidentally spilled onto his daughter where he claimed she was rushed to the hospital. However, the doctor told them the powder was not poison.
Minhaj — who previously served as a correspondent for The Daily Show — revealed to the outlet on Friday that his daughter was never hospitalized nor exposed to a white powder. Instead, when the letter arrived at his house he joked to his wife, “Holy s–t. What if this was anthrax?”
Minhaj confessed that the goal of his jokes is to “highlight” the stories and build “a pointed argument” rather than a “pointless riff.”
“No, I don’t think I’m manipulating. I think they are coming for the emotional roller-coaster ride,” the comedian explained at the time. “To the people that are, like, ‘Yo, that is way too crazy to happen,’ I don’t care because yes, f–k yes — that’s the point.”
Following the New Yorker piece, Minhaj released an additional statement to Variety about where he gets his inspiration for his stand-up material.
“All my standup stories are based on events that happened to me,” he said in a statement while citing examples. “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.”
He continued: “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.”