Hasan Minhaj Explained On 'Ellen' How Mispronouncing His Name Speaks To A Double Standard
Hasan Minhaj has talked about his name being mispronounced many times. But, when he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last week, Minhaj explained how his name is pronounced again; this time to DeGeneres' many viewers, who maybe haven't heard the correct pronunciation before. He also explained how it's pretty hypocritical of people to not pronounce his name right, since people do just fine with all the Timothée Chalamets and Ansel Elgorts of the world.
DeGeneres set Minhaj up by saying his name incorrectly (more like "Ha-sahn") to which the comedian responded, "No" and added, "I actually want to do this on national television." He told everyone the real pronunciation and said that it was extra important for him to do because his parents were in the audience.
Minhaj said, "I appreciate people trying" even if they say it wrong, because at least that's better than those who go, "I'm so sorry, I can't pronounce it. Meet my son, Higsby Whitterthrottle the third." It's the not caring that is the most insulting, and it can lead people to want to change their names or simplify them to make it easier for others. It's simply not fair.
While Minhaj's conversation was, of course, full of jokes, he made clear that there really is a double standard when it comes to names of people of color and names of famous white people. "When I first started doing comedy, people were like, you should change your name," he explained. "And I'm like, I’m not going to change my name. If you can pronounce Ansel Elgort, you can pronounce Hasan Minhaj." He then joked that at Starbucks he just goes by "Timothée Chalamet," which the baristas can handle just fine.
One of the previous times Minhaj spoke about his name being mispronounced was in a video for Netflix with Queer Eye star Tan France. "I hear people pronouncing it 'Ha-sahn Min-aaaj'," France said. "I'm almost positive that's not how we say it." Minhaj confirmed and added, "There is no Ha-sahn Minhaj. That's my Clark Kent. It's a brown thing. So when brown people see me, they go, 'Hey Hasan,' I go, 'Hey.'"
The two also pointed out that France's full first name is actually Tanweer, but he simplified it. "Don't confuse them," France said. "They're very easily confused. I'm sorry white folk at home, I know you're easily confused."
This was not the first time Minhaj used a Superman metaphor to explain how he feels about his name. "There’s a monologue at the end [of standup comedy special Homecoming King] where I say, 'I’m not Hasan Minhaj, I’m [pronounces name Hasun Mi-nuj],'" he told Vulture in a 2017 interview. "And that’s really important, because I think for a lot of us, we’re kind of like Superman. There’s Kal-El from Krypton, and then there’s Superman, and I’m thinking, 'Maybe, god willing, I can be Hasan Minaj [pronounced correctly] and Mindy [Kaling] can be her actual full name." (Kaling's full last name is Chokalingam.)
Minhaj has explained his name many times in his work and in interviews, and it's because he's always had to explain to people and correct them in his everyday life. By repeating the correct pronunciation and using his platform to show people how important it is to actually use it, he's helping other people with names that maybe everyone isn't so comfortable with so one day the dismissive, not-even-trying thing will be put to a stop.