Comedian Hasan Minhaj, a Davis native, embellished stories in stand-up routines, report says

Major comedian and Davis native Hasan Minhaj includes embellishments in his stand up routine, according to a new piece in the New Yorker.

The story, published online Friday, said Minhaj told the magazine that the stories he tells on stage contain about 30% “hyperbole, exaggeration, fiction.”

For example, Minhaj’s 2022 Netflix special “The King’s Jester” includes a story about someone sending an envelope of white powder to his house, the powder getting on his daughter’s skin, and rushing her to the hospital. However, while the envelope did arrive, his daughter was not exposed to it or hospitalized, he told the New Yorker.

During the same special, Minhaj told a story set in the Sacramento area. He said an FBI informant named Brother Eric who infiltrated his family’s Sacramento-area mosque in 2002, shortly after 9/11, when Minhaj was in high school. Brother Eric gained the trust of the mosque community and had dinner at Minhaj’s house, Minhaj said in the set. Minhaj, suspicious of the man, decided to mess with him and told him he was getting his pilot’s license, which resulted in police arriving and slamming MInhaj against the hood of a car, he said in the set.

The magazine found there was indeed a man known as Brother Eric, named Craig Montelih, who worked on counterterrorism measures for the FBI. But he didn’t start the work until 2006, and worked only in Southern California, the magazine found.

In a statement from a spokeswoman, Minhaj 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. 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.”

Minhaj, 37, graduated from Davis Senior High School, attended UC Davis and is a well-publicized Sacramento Kings fan. His comedy focuses on his experiences growing up Indian American, Asian American and Muslim in predominantly white Davis.

Minhaj came to fame as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” before landing his own similar Netflix show called “Patriot Act,” which won an Emmy but was canceled after two years. He hosted the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and is a leading candidate to replace Trevor Noah as the next host of “The Daily Show,” according to the magazine.

After performing at the Punch Line Sacramento comedy club in Arden Arcade last month, the comedian is about to begin performing his “Off With His Head” stand-up tour that will take him to 16 cities through mid-December, where he’ll perform for three nights in New York. The only California stop on the tour will be in Paso Robles on Oct. 20.