Hasan Minhaj Leans Into His Scandal: “Don’t Fact-Check Me”

Minhaj addressed a recent scandal about fabrications in his work during a comedy show at the Beacon Theater.

Hasan Minhaj Leans Into His Scandal: “Don’t Fact-Check Me”
Hasan Minhaj performs during a comedy show in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the USO and the 5th anniversary of Joining Forces at Joint Base Andrews in Washington, D.C. in May 2016. Photo credit: EJ Hersom

A recent article from the critic Jason Zinoman at the New York Times poses a simple question — was scandal the best thing to happen to Hasan Minhaj?

Hasan Minhaj addressed a recent scandal about fabrications in his work during a comedy show at the Beacon Theater. During the show, he acknowledged the New Yorker article that exposed some of his onstage stories as embellishments, portraying it as a dorky but inevitable scandal in his career. Minhaj balanced crisis management by not dwelling on the issue excessively but incorporated it into his routine, garnering significant positive response from his audience. According to Zinoman, Minhaj’s jokes about the New Yorker article earned some of the biggest laughs of the night.

The controversy around the New Yorker article prompted Minhaj to release a video defending himself in late October, claiming the piece was misleading. He has since addressed the criticism by adapting his onstage presence, emphasizing the blurred lines between comedy and journalism in his work. The incident sparked a broader discussion on truth in comedy, challenging performers to navigate the trust and authenticity expectations of their audience.

While Zinoman acknowledges that some of Minhaj's fabrications were unnecessary, he also appreciates the opportunity the controversy provided to discuss truth in comedy. The piece explores the current trend of leveraging personal stories for political and emotional impact, highlighting the cultural inclination towards victim narratives.

The article contrasts Minhaj's approach with other instances of celebrities adopting a “victim narrative” for sympathy or attention. It touches on the broader theme of victimhood in contemporary culture and how comedians like Minhaj navigate these dynamics in their routines.

Minhaj's show reflects a shift in his comedic style, moving towards self-questioning and personal reflection. The scandal, while potentially damaging, may have accelerated this transformation, repositioning him as a more introspective and self-aware comic.

Zinoman concludes his article by finding meaning in the way Minhaj concludes his show, perhaps reaching understanding for the way Minhaj has addressed the scandal or perhaps reaching the root of Minhaj’s embellishment in the first place. After a long bit about therapy and family, Minhaj gives a dramatic pause before revealing that deep down, his real kink is acceptance.

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