You probably know her as the dim-witted, selfish, attention-whore Kelly Kapoor on NBC’s The Office, but Mindy Kaling wants to be clear: She is no Kelly. Mindy would never fake a pregnancy for attention, nor a rape for that matter. She also wouldn’t consider driving away from the site of a vehicular manslaughter. She may, however, memorize her credit card number to shop online with ease or subscribe to trendy, borderline dangerous diets, but hey man. A girl’s gotta live.
In her new book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Kaling takes us through her journey as a chubby, androgynous youngster (her words, not mine – see photo) to her success as a Writer/Producer/Actor on one of the best comedies on television. Equal parts self-deprecation and vivacious wit, the book exemplifies Kaling’s passion for comedy, writing, awkward social situations and fashion, all while spewing hilarious stories about her first interview and subsequent fight with Office creator Greg Daniels, her stay in the Big City as a young twenty-something (“I Love New York and It Likes Me OK”), and her love for Irish goodbyes and chest hair.
You’re probably already comparing it to another NBC favorite’s Bossypants, released earlier this year. While Fey’s collection was also a quasi-memoir depicting her rise to fame and all the hilarious happenings along the way, I find Kaling’s to be the stronger of the two. She even goes so far as to point out the likely comparisons (“Unfortunately, I can’t be Tina, because it’s very difficult to lure her into a Freaky Friday-type situation where we could switch bodies, even though in the movies they make it look so easy. Believe me, I’ve tried”). For Tina fans: Mindy Kaling’s offering is just as worthy.
While Fey is surely a Comedienne Goddess, Kaling kind of feels like this girl you once knew in high school who just happened to land a gig on a top-rated primetime network show. By book’s end, you feel secure with her entertaining charm and unique perspective. You want to obey her rules for karaoke ettiquette. You understand “The Exact Level of Fame” that she seeks, because dammit, who wouldn’t like automatic cutsies in the brunch line or Kenan Thompson portraying them on Saturday Night Live?
Kaling is brutally honest, especially at her own risk, making Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) a perfect wind-down read after a long day battling traffic, last-minute holiday shopping, and the increasing desire to strangle the stranger standing next to you.