Author: Mindy Kaling
Type: Non-fiction, humor, memoir
Full title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
I read it: April 2015
I’m finally catching up to this books written by comedians thing. I think I’m generally pretty slow about trying out new genres, and the biography/autobiography stuff just isn’t my thing. But after Dad Is Fat and Yes Please I’m realizing that if I’m going to read something self-reflective about someone still alive, it’s best to find authors who are funny. So, this book was more than a steal when I found it on the half-off rack at Eat My Words.
There’s a lot of similarity to Amy Poehler’s book (yes, I realize this one came out first). It’s just that there’s the part about youth, then the part about college and slovenly living, and the part about trying to break into comedy, and plenty of musings on womanhood and family, and then the big chunk everyone is waiting for: dishing about the popular TV show. My wife and I have been working through The Office on Netflix since last fall, because we never did finish watching the show when it aired. So it’s been a blast to go back to that, and the stuff about The Office here is pretty good. As with Poehler, stories about working with Mike Schur seem to come up a lot. I particularly liked Kaling’s description of how she wrote and envisioned Kelly Kapoor: a version of how she thought some of the upper-level writers thought she was in real life. And you can see some of the comparisons, because the book has a lot of funny anecdotes about dating guys and loving fashion and trying to fit in. She also admits she can be pretty dramatic in real life: “I’m the kind of person who would rather get my hopes up really high and watch them get dashed to pieces than wisely keep my expectations at bay and hope they are exceeded.”
I never knew about the short play Matt & Ben that Kaling wrote with her friend, about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. This was the DIY stuff that got her noticed and eventually onto our televisions. I’ve not seen any The Mindy Project yet, but now I’m more interested. She obviously has a lot more ideas up her sleeve, including a mention in this book (2011, remember) of an all-female cast Ghostbusters reboot. It’s a damn shame she wasn’t actually cast when it became a reality (her other actors would have included Emily Blunt, Taraji Henson, and Natalie Portman). Other areas of the book find her giving out miscellaneous social opinions like “I do not think stress is a legitimate topic of conversation, in public anyway…Going on and on in detail about how stressed out I am isn’t conversation.” The early entries about being an awkward kid are also great, including the story of when she got embarrassed and injured at summer camp. She says that if she has kids she would give them these golden nuggets of advice:
“Sometimes you will meet idiots who are technically adults and authority figures. You don’t have to do what they say. You can calmly say, ‘Can I first call my mom and ask her if I have to this, please?'”
“If you’re scared of something, that isn’t a sign that you have to do it. It probably means you shouldn’t do it. Call Dad or Mom immediately.”
The only section that kind of lost me was “The Best Distraction in the World: Romance and Guys.” I just do not have a way to engage with a list of things Jewish guys do, or a way to respond to the issue that men put on their shoes too slowly. Do guys do that? I don’t think we run in anything close to the same social circles, Mindy.
But that’s not to say I wasn’t feeling the book: I absolutely was. In fact, I read the whole thing in a day, the day of my first-year wedding anniversary. Poolside in the Phoenix sun and in the crisp A.C. of the hotel room paired with spoonfuls of strawberry yogurt, I channeled my inner gossip and breezed through this one. Now to finally, finally finish season nine.