Whoopi Goldberg came to Hasan Minhaj’s defense following claims that some of the jokes in his stand-ups are embellished.
During a segment on The View Monday, Goldberg and her fellow co-hosts took a moment to discuss Minhaj exaggerating things that have happened to him at times for the sake of the joke.
“That’s what we do,” Goldberg said of the role of comedians. “That’s what we do. We tell stories, and we embellish them.”
Goldberg then recalled a time when a reporter called to fact-check one of her stand-ups in which she said she had a degree from New York University. She told the reporter she did not have a degree from the university and never said she did, before realizing he was referring to one of her stand-up characters, Fontaine.
“If you’re gonna hold a comic to the point where you’re gonna check up on their stories,” she continued, “you have to understand, a lot of it is not the exact thing that happened, because why would we tell exactly what happened? It ain’t that interesting.”
Toward the end of the segment on Minhaj, Goldberg doubled down and explained that a lot of the things comics joke about have grains of truth but aren’t meant to be taken so seriously. “That’s our job,” the co-host concluded, “a seed of truth, sometimes the truth and sometimes total BS.”
The segment followed a story published in The New Yorker that found that parts of Minhaj’s onstage anecdotes were seemingly untrue and could not be verified, prompting the comedian to release a statement.
“All my standup stories are based on events that happened to me,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I use the tools of standup comedy — hyperbole, changing names and locations, and compressing timelines to tell entertaining stories.”
He continued, “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.”