Bill Maher Slams Hasan Minhaj’s ‘Emotional Truth’: ‘What if Jussie Smollett Did Stand-Up?’ (Video)

Bulls– is bad, no matter who says it or what you call it,” the “Real Time” host says during “New Rules”

Bill Maher New Rules Hasan Minhaj Real Time
HBO

Bill Maher used his “New Rules” segment of this week’s “Real Time” to, essentially, settle an old beef with fellow comedian Hasan Minhaj.

Maher has clearly been mad at Hasan Minhaj since 2015, when Minhaj revealed how he got his breakthrough job as a correspondent on “The Daily Show.” According to Minhaj, in his second “TDS” audition, he did a bit called “Batman vs. Bill Maher.” It was inspired by the time Ben Affleck appeared on “Real Time” and called out Maher and panelist Sam Harris for making racist comments about Muslims.

Skip ahead to 2023 and Minhaj is mired in PR problems of his own. In September, he admitted to the New Yorker that a lot of the personal stories he tells in his stand-up act — particularly stories depicting his encounters with racists, or when he received racist threats — were totally made up. Minhaj was subsequently criticized and mocked for describing these stories as “emotional truths,” a term that provided the hook Maher used for “New Rules.”

“New rule: This dangerous idea that has taken root in America that something is true, merely because you want to believe it’s true, has got to go,” Maher began.

“I have spent an awful lot of time in the pre-Trump and then the Trump presidency years, trying to convince people that this man would never concede losing an election no matter what the truth was. And what made me so sure of that was that America had become a place where truth no longer matters,” he continued, echoing a classic Stephen Colbert bit.

“It was all about whether it felt right in your gut. ‘Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden? That can’t be right.’ That’s what many of the fans said and still do, any time an issue doesn’t go their way,” Maher continued, adding, “when the right does this, we call it ‘conspiracy theories,’ and rightly so. When the left does it, we call it ’emotional truth.’”

“Which brings me to Hasan Minhaj. The comedian who answers the question, ‘What if Jussie Smollett did stand-up?’” Maher said, referencing the “Empire” actor who allegedly faked a hate crime attack on himself.

Maher conceded that “Muslims and people of color in America have, of course, faced prejudice and discrimination. And this country has a racial history that is nothing short of despicable and some of it continues to this day. The question I’m always asking is, ‘where exactly are we with this now?’ Because it’s not as good as the right says it is. And I think it’s also not as bad as the left says.”

“But if you have to fabricate the stories of your mistreatment, isn’t that itself a comment on where we are now?” Maher asked.

Maher ran down some of the falsehoods Minhaj admitted telling, including the time he claimed his prom date basically canceled on him because her parents were racist and didn’t want her to go out with an Indian America. Maher then noted that the author of that New Yorker article asked, “Does it matter that neither of those things really happened?”

“Yes. It does matter,” Maher said. “If you want to speak truth to power, I’m gonna go out on a limb here, and say you have to include the truth part.”

At this point, Maher brought up Minhaj’s comments about Maher. “He’s done this before with me, accusing me of saying Muslims should be put in internment camps, something I’ve never come close to thinking, never mind saying. And it’s an odd thing to claim given that this show is, you know, recorded with cameras and audio.”

“So I ask you, a guy saying he saw me say ’round up the Muslims’ on TV, even though I never did — how is that different than this guy?” Maher added, at which point he played a clip of the time Donald Trump lied about personally witnessing Muslim Americans cheering on the 9/11 attacks.

“This country needs to make a grand bargain. Bulls–t is bad, no matter who says it or what you call it,” Maher went on. “Minhaj says the emotional truth is first, the factual truth is secondary. That’s the part of the zeitgeist he has captured — that it’s all about getting to the truth, man. And what better way to do that than by lying.”

Maher complained that, in his view, “younger generations have a real problem with wanting to build their identity around being a victim. They want to have racism to fight, not fight racism — have racism to fight so badly that when it’s not there, they make it up. And there’s enough real racism in the world, but making it more doesn’t help.”

Maher noted that Minhaj told the New Yorker that “my day-to-day life is not very interesting or compelling,” meaning it doesn’t actually provide real examples of the problems he describes in his routine. “Isn’t that a good thing?” Maher asked.

“He seems to literally feel cheated by progress. Progress that has denied him any good stories about being oppressed by the Man. Dude, America is far from the worst. You’re a Muslim, married to a Hindu. If you are living in India, she’d have to murder you,” Maher said.

“And that prom date that he talks about? He didn’t disguise her identity very well. And now she has had to deal with death threats and doxing,” Maher added. (This is unfortunately true.) “There are consequences to lying and, funny side story, you know who she married? Another Indian guy.”

“Hearing that, even Minhaj himself must know, man, if people don’t like you now, it’s probably not because you’re a person of color. It’s because you’re shady,” Maher concluded.

Watch the full commentary at the top of the page.

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