They were honouring me while kicking me out: Hasan Minhaj on ‘Howdy Modi’ event


PTI, Sep 25, 2019, 10:36 AM IST

Los Angeles: Popular Indian-origin comic Hasan Minhaj on Wednesday confirmed he was barred from attending the ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston, saying the organisers had “honoured” him while “blackballing” him.

About 50,000 people of the Indian-American community attended the event at the NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday that was jointly addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump. The comedian claimed he was denied entry into the venue as some of the comments he made about Modi on his show The Patriot Act were not appreciated.

He faced a lot of heat on social media for his episodes on Indian elections, the results of which saw Modi return for a second term with a thumping majority, and the recent clampdown in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 ahead of Indian Independence Day by the ruling government.

On Monday, a video doing the rounds on social media surfaced, in which the Patriot Act host was seen talking to a media coordinator from the press registration desk outside the venue on phone. Minhaj was told he and his team couldn’t be permitted inside the stadium citing lack of space for broadcast crews”.

Confirming he was turned away from the event, the comic, in an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers narrated how intense things got. He also shared the video snippet from the show on social media with a caption reading: Never got a chance to say Howdy Modi.

“I was like I have to be there. So we submit our press credentials immediately get an email back through saying ‘We’re out of space’. I was like ‘word’. Like I’ve been to Indian weddings, you just walk in. You’re out of space in a football stadium? Nah.

“So I recheck with the organisers, ‘hey guys it’s my community, you get it?’ I want to be there. And they’re like ‘We’re out of space but we’ll discuss it’. I’m like ‘okay’. And I’m like I’m sorry for making fun of cricket. It’s not a sport for farms, it’s an international game that’s taking over the world. They are like No, some of the comments you made about Prime Minister Modi were not appreciated and you’ve been blacklisted’, Minhaj told Meyers.

The comic said he watched the event on his phone in the parking lot of NRG Stadium and saw many Indian-Americans from different walks of life, including fellow comedians like Mindy Kaling and Aziz Ansari, being honoured for their contribution to the arts.

It was ironic to see his own photograph pop up on the screen at the event as one of the achievers of the community, he said. “They were honouring me for my comedy while also blackmailing and blackballing me and kicking me out for my comedy. It is the most Indian thing ever. They were like ‘we’re proud of you but we’ll never say it to your face, Minhaj said as the audience roared with laughter.

The stand-up comic also threw in a cheeky Kashmir joke. He said police officers on rally duty while breaking up people from beating each other said, “‘Why are you guys arguing over sweaters? Everyone can have cashmere’. They were like ‘That’s the problem, everyone can’t have Kashmir’.”

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