Whoopi Goldberg Defends Hasan Minhaj For Embellishing Stand-Up Stories: “That’s What We Do”

Whoopi Goldberg and Hasan Minhaj

Whoopi Goldberg and Hasan Minhaj ABC/Jeff Lipsky/Eric Hobbs

Whoopi Goldberg is coming to the defense of Hasan Minhaj, who has received some criticism after acknowledging that he has embellished stories that were basically based in fact in his stand-up routines.

“That’s what we do” (as comedians), Goldberg said during Monday’s The View. “That’s what we do, we tell stories and we embellish them.”

She added, “If you’re going to hold a comic to the point where you’re going to check up on stories, you have to understand, a lot of it is not the exact thing that happened because why would we tell exactly what happened? It’s not that interesting. There’s information that we will give you as comics that will have grains of truth, but don’t take it to the bank. That’s our job, a seed of truth: sometimes truth and sometimes total B.S.”

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In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Minhaj acknowledged that he has embellished stories in his comedy.

“All my standup stories are based on events that happened to me,” he said in a statement. “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.”

During the interview, Minhaj admitted that his daughter had never been exposed to a white powder, and that she hadn’t been hospitalized. He said he had opened up a letter delivered to his apartment that contained some sort of powder and he joked to his wife, saying, “Holy shit. What if this was anthrax?”

While admitting the stories were fiction, Minhaj said they were based on “emotional truth,” adding “The punch line is worth the fictionalized premise.”

Minhaj is a two-time Peabody Award-Winning comedian best known for his breakout Netflix special Homecoming King and his critically acclaimed, political satire show Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj for Netflix which won a Peabody, an Emmy, and a Television Academy Honor.

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