Following backlash, comedian Hasan Minhaj clarifies his comments about DOs

Responding to feedback on his September Tonight Show appearance, Minhaj acknowledges that osteopathic physicians are great doctors and provide excellent patient care.

In response to criticism from the osteopathic community and its MD colleagues, comedian Hasan Minhaj issued a video response on Friday evening, explaining his negative comments about DOs and their qualifications.

Minhaj made the disparaging remarks on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in September.

Besides saying that osteopathic physicians are RC Cola while allopathic physicians are Coca-Cola, he said that DOs couldn’t “afford the good letters” and told a story about his own physician while dealing with a fertility issue. The AOA couldn’t find any evidence that the doctor he cited even exists. The AOA, DOs across the country and hundreds of MDs united on social media and demanded an apology.

The video released Friday still pokes fun at DOs and mentions MCAT scores several times, but the comedian acknowledges that osteopathic physicians are great doctors and provide excellent patient care. It also touches on the fact that physicians everywhere—osteopathic and allopathic—are battling a pandemic.

“We need to remain strong and unified as a profession,” said AOA president Joseph A. Giaimo, DO, MACOI, FCCP. “We are so thankful for the many within the osteopathic community and our MD colleagues who rallied in support of DOs and osteopathic medical students across the nation. I’m proud to see that our activism and advocacy makes a true difference.”

A “DOs fight back: Profession responds to Hasan Minhaj’s Jimmy Fallon interview” headline from The DO and video clips by osteopathic physicians Dustin Portela, DO (Twitter handle @208SkinDoc) and Erika Visser Aragona, DO (@Doctor_Erika_) were also featured in Minhaj’s follow-up video.

A video clip from AOA CEO Kevin Klauer, DO, EJD, is included about halfway through the 10-minute video.

Minhaj is on a comedy tour and includes the osteopathic physician segment as part of his shows.

The AOA’s response to the original video was swift and substantial when it aired on The Tonight Show on Sept. 20. The AOA coordinated a response that began at roughly 12:30 a.m. on the evening of notification, followed by an expansion the next day. Then we convened our social media SWAT team, which includes many prominent DOs, including AOA President Joseph Giaimo, DO, and AOA President-Elect Ernest Gelb, DO, for final strategic planning of the response.

In responding to the clip, the AOA:

• Initiated a swift response on Twitter that has generated 169,000+ impressions, 16,000+ engagements, 413 likes, and 184 retweets.

• Posted a rebuttal on Instagram, which currently has over 1,700 likes and is one of our most popular posts to-date.

• Retweeted a short video featuring AOA CEO Kevin Klauer, DO, EJD, discussing the situation and actions from the AOA, as well as his additional posts.

• AOA President Joseph Giaimo, DO, participated in the defense via his Twitter account.

• Monitored and retweeted DOs and MDs who have stood up for the profession, including posts from Doctor Mike (60,000+ impressions and 1,600+ engagements) and Dr. Arora.

• Coordinated with influential Twitter DOs to form a rapid strike team.

• Pitched 23 reporters who covered past PR issues involving DOs, offering access to AOA leadership and practicing osteopathic physicians to provide background on the profession.

• Contacted The Tonight Show requesting an interview and apology.

United in appreciation

Although the video posted Friday stops short of a formal apology, the AOA, osteopathic physicians and MDs united in appreciation that the comedian acknowledged he hit a nerve in the medical community that he didn’t anticipate. One osteopathic physician posted early Saturday morning, “Cheers to all doctors (DO and MD); I’m honored to all be on the same team. That’s simply what doctors do. #DOProud. Another wrote that there are “lots of great DOs out there. Lots of great MDs out there. Primitive to dichotomize quality of a doctor based on their degree. Bad/good, MD/DO, us/them—that way of thinking is sad & ignorant. The truth of almost everything is far more complex.”

The AOA issued statements on social media, saying that we don’t agree with everything in the video, but we appreciated the acknowledgement that DOs are great doctors.

“#DOProud embodies the AOA’s mission and efforts to advocate for osteopathic physicians and medical students, whenever, wherever and however called upon to do so,” said Dr. Klauer. “We are a proud profession, and the AOA is proud to serve our professional community. At the end of his video, Hasan asked, ‘Are we good?’ I think we are. Do we expect a comedian not to poke some fun at us in his response? Not at all. That’s what comedians do. However, his response reflects that the importance of the issue wasn’t lost on him. For that, I’m thankful.”

Related reading:

DOs fight back: Profession responds to Hasan Minhaj’s Jimmy Fallon interview

I am a DO: Facing the skeptics


    1. S. A-T

      Yes, we are fantastic, compassionate and well trained and well rounded physicians. It’s 2021, we shouldn’t have to continually fight to justify our qualifications.

  1. Paul Claassen, D.O.

    my MCATS were great. I was accepted at Creighton Medical School and Kansas City College of Osteopathic Medicine. I chose to be a D.O. because of the HUMILITY shown at the interview at KCCOM

  2. Jay Kleinman, DO

    Hasan Minhaj’s explanation is not satisfying. Although he claims DO’s are good doctors, he repeats in his video that the DO’s MCAT scores are lower than the MD’s and DO’s feel unloved. What kind of apology is that?
    Minhaj has taken the issue and made it into a PR campaign about his comedy. Who cares that
    he’s a busy guy, performing comedy at large venues, and being a bestie with Jimmy Fallon.

      1. Brooks Conforti D.O.,AOBNMM,AOBA

        It’s not hilarious, if you are referring to Dr. Schwartz’s opinion…or any DO’s for that matter. I see you didn’t feel the need to attach your own qualifications to your name, Mr. Porter. It’s sad that the apology was even necessary, but the free press was a nice bit of fallout. Time to move on.

  3. Jeanne DeMoss, DO

    Getting a little fatigued of people tossing out hurtful comments and then trying to win back fans with a lame mea culpa. Perhaps he should think before he opens his mouth. Respect is earned not bought.
    Grow up.
    Wise advice from a proud and well respected D.O.
    Jeanne L. DeMoss, D.O., FACC

  4. Eli S. Neiman, DO, FACN

    He gets it, even bad press is press and ran with it. We should as well. Minhaj got our name out there for free and glad we got very angry for that is press as well. Sad Fallon never heard of a DO, shame on us. Twitter is cheap advertising. Never heard of anyone leaving their DO for an MD ever. The MD program I trained at had a DO chief resident and now the Chair of the program I worked at is a DO as well. They love training us for real diagnosis is from out of the box thinking for most disease do not read textbooks and best care is and all about patient follow up and we DO it better.

  5. Joseph Perez

    Definitely average MCAT scores are lower. But not by much. I always attributed that to the paucity of applicants that were the MD PhD Kinda kids and the people who have a burning passion to do neurosurgery and their ilk not being in the pool.
    With those applicants not in consideration I would expect MCAT scores to be very comparable. Essentially a good pool of competent applicants.

  6. Susan Cislo, DO

    This was not an apology. This is more insults.

    My MCATS were great. I did not become a DO because I couldn’t get in to an MD school. I only ever wanted to be a DO, and never applied to any MD schools. You should notice that it is not only DO’s who are angry, so are our patients, and the people we work alongside, MD, RN, NP, RT. What do they know that you don’t? You are not smart enough to have noticed that other professions have been chiming in.

    Are you so hurting for jokes that you have to stoop so low? It is not I who is second rate in my profession, it is you in yours. I will never watch anything with you in it again.

    I hope if you ever find yourself on a gurney in an emergency room, you have the integrity to refuse treatment from the doctor if he or she happens to be a DO and wait until a “real” doctor comes on shift.

  7. Patrick T Birchfield, DO

    Not an apology. And not a good comedian. And not worth anyone’s time or money. Not a fan of the cancel culture, but this guy should be cancelled, or better yet, ignored.

  8. Brad Barter DO

    This guy pokes fun at DOs as part of his schtick. He’s a “comedian” and he gets paid to irritate people and get your attention. Ok, so not a satisfactory apology, not surprising. Thanks for the free DO PR anyway!
    Ironically, I have never even heard of the guy. C-list comedian, at best.

  9. Rahul Mishra

    “C-rate comedian? Stoop so low?” are some of the comments. Why would you seek anyone else’s validation? I’m proud to be an osteopathic physician but I also know to how to laugh and not take myself too seriously. It’s not who I am but what I do that defines me. Would you have laughed if he made fun of an attorney or politician or another profession? Comedy is an art and nothing is off limits. And that’s precisely what makes it the safest place to make comments and open conversation. If this joke struck a nerve with you then remind yourself that you are stuck on a large spinning rock in space in which the universe does not care about the credentials we have fabricated to anoint ourselves as learned beings.

  10. Monte E Troutman,DO

    The AOA also needs to teach Hasan Minhaj how to pronounce osteopathic. In addition, please educate Jimmie Fallon on what a DO is. He obviously doesn’t know based on his comment to Hasan with the question “What’s a DO?”

  11. Dennis Agostini, Ph.D, DO FACEP

    When comedians perform their routines, especially satirical comedy, the subject of the performance should be supported by accurate facts. By doing this it’s a very powerful tool to present the truth in a very unique way. We may agree that our MCATs are slightly lower than the MD candidates, but ask Hasan if he would choose his physician solely on their SAT and MCAT scores? What prudent layperson, or physician, or scientist, or lawyer, etc., would do that?
    Vis a vis the accurate facts, here’s a joke, Hasan: How many Republican comedians can you name? Oops sorry, I didn’t mean that to be political.

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