Hasan Minhaj admits to lying about his daughter being exposed to anthrax for stand-up routine

Comedian Hasan Minhaj has admitted to fabricating and exaggerating certain details in his stand-up routines, including one major story in his 2022 Netflix special The King’s Jester.

At one point during the comedy special, Minhaj, 37, tells the audience about the time he and his wife were supposedly sent a letter filled with white powder that he assumed was anthrax.

Upon opening the mail, the comedian said the powder accidentally spilt on his daughter, who they then rushed to the hospital. There, the doctor informed them that it was not anthrax.

That evening, Minhaj recalled his wife telling him: “You get to say whatever you want onstage, and we have to live with the consequences. I don’t give a s*** that Time magazine thinks you’re an ‘influencer.’ If you ever put my kids in danger again, I will leave you in a second.’”

Now, in a new interview with The New Yorker, Minhaj has admitted that his daughter was never exposed to anthrax nor hospitalised.

“Every story in my style is built around a seed of truth,” the former Patriot Act host said. “My comedy Arnold Palmer is 70 per cent emotional truth – this happened – and then 30 per cent hyperbole, exaggeration, fiction.”

He said that while he did, in fact, receive a letter containing white powder, he said that at the time, he jokingly told his wife: “Holy s***. What if this was anthrax?”

Film Spirit Awards - Hasan Minhaj (2019 Invision)
Film Spirit Awards - Hasan Minhaj (2019 Invision)

Addressing his made-up characters and stories, Minhaj said he doesn’t see them as manipulation.

“I think [the audience] are coming for the emotional roller-coaster ride… To the people that are, like, ‘Yo, that is way too crazy to happen,’ I don’t care because yes, f*** yes – that’s the point,” he said, adding that all of his stories are “grounded in truth”.

In an additional statement to Variety, the comedian said: “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,” he added. “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.”