Whoopi Goldberg is defending fellow standup Hasan Minhaj from recent backlash.
While crowds often suspend their disbelief for the more outlandish premises from comedians, many believe Minhaj went too far by claiming in his 2022 special “The King’s Jester” that he once rushed his child to the hospital because of a feared anthrax attack.
“That’s what we do,” Goldberg said on “The View” on Monday. “We tell stories, and then we embellish them.”
“If you’re gonna hold a comic to the point where you’re gonna check up on their stories, you have to understand, a lot of it is not the exact thing that happened, because why would we tell exactly what happened?” Goldberg added. “It ain’t that interesting.”
Minhaj claimed in the comedy special that he once received an envelope containing white powder, which accidentally spilled onto his young daughter. He said he was assured by doctors after taking her to the hospital that the substance wasn’t anthrax. He later doubled down on the story in an interview.
“There are consequences for what you say and do,” Minhaj told the Daily Beast in 2022. “And if it hurts the people that count on you the most, and someone who is so innocent like my daughter, I’ve really got to reevaluate and examine what I’m doing here.”
Minhaj admitted in a New Yorker profile published Friday that this never happened, however, after the outlet confronted him with the lack of police reports or hospital records about the incident. The former “Patriot Act” host argued that “hyperbole” was “inherent to the art form.”
The New Yorker profile also noted the second-generation Indian American lied in his 2017 “Homecoming King” special. That story — in which a white friend agreed to be his high school prom date only to back out last-minute when confronted with her parent’s racism — never happened.
Minhaj admitted to the outlet that this friend never agreed to go to the prom with him, but argued the story contains an “emotional truth.” He claimed another bit about a white undercover FBI agent infiltrating his family’s mosque was “worth the fictionalized premise.”
Goldberg said Monday that she used to pass herself off as a New York University graduate in her old routines. But Minhaj’s fabrications concern potential acts of terrorism, racism and white supremacy — and have left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths.
On Monday, Minhaj likened standup to a haunted house, telling The Hollywood Reporter that nobody would visit one and ask: “Why are these people lying to me?” He suggested anything said onstage is entirely fair game.
“All my standup stories are based on events that happened to me,” he told the outlet. “I use the tools of standup comedy — hyperbole, changing names and locations, and compressing timelines to tell entertaining stories.”