The 26-year-old singer discussed Styles' monologue as Saturday Night Live guest host during Thursday's episode of Watch What Happens Live.
Styles joked about Malik, who left One Direction in 2015, while hosting SNL in November, referring to Malik as "Ringo." Ringo Starr famously left the Beatles in 1968 during the recording of the White Album.
"I think it's just a funny joke at the end of the day," Payne said. "Obviously Zayn's circumstances for leaving were his own, and it's a different situation for all of us and I supposed we deal with it in a different way."
"I thought it was quite funny," he added.
Payne, Styles, Malik, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan came to fame with One Direction, which went on an indefinite hiatus less than a year after Malik's departure. Payne and Styles recently reunited for the first time in three years.
"We spoke about a number of things," Payne shared. "We hadn't seen each other for three years. Literally, I hadn't seen him once, we hadn't spoken or anything."
"He was pretty much the same boy that I left him. We spoke about kids and happiness all sorts of stuff," he said of Styles.
Payne had said on Today this week that his reunion with Styles was a "beautiful" experience.
"You have some friends, no matter how long you've spent apart it feels exactly the same when you get there. I think that makes you best friends, really," he said.