Mindy Kaling is not supermodel material, nor is she a super genius.
Kaling, actress and writer of “The Office”, not only accepts these facts, she relishes them in her book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).” In her first novel, a memoir, Kaling writes about struggling to fit the American norm of beauty and make it in show business, while also becoming a strong individual who holds her own.
Kaling is an admitted narcissist; she has an entire chapter devoted to the pictures of herself taken with her BlackBerry. Despite her confidence, Kaling is also somewhat disparaging of herself, especially when reminiscing about her childhood as a nerd. Even with her self-mockery, Kaling is so endearing about her geeky childhood that every joke is sweetly hilarious. As a reader, you find yourself laughing with her, not at her.
Kaling’s love of comedy blossomed as a child, when she would watch “Comedy Central” after school with her “secret Saturday friend,” Mavis. Mavis was a secret from Kaling’s group of best friends, named with the acronym JLMP, because she wasn’t a “girly” girl. Kaling’s description of JLMP is similar to the Plastics in “Mean Girls”, minus the popularity. At the risk of becoming more unpopular, Kaling abandoned her group of friends to start hanging out with Mavis full time.
Kaling knows that her success came not from YouTube nor being a child star, but from “stay[ing] in school and be[ing] a respectful and hardworking wallflower.” Through her recollections of high school with Mavis and college at Dartmouth, it is obvious that although school was important to her, making people laugh was Kaling’s true calling. Her childhood and early adulthood left no other path but comedy.
Kaling’s description of her early career would paint a sad portrait of an unsuccesful writer, if not for her ability to laugh at the situation. Her reflections on working her way up network TV’s hierarchy seem like storylines for “30 Rock”. If “30 Rock” had a smaller budget and less-famous actors, it would be based on Kaling’s life.
Fans of “The Office” will be pleased to read Kaling’s section about her time working on the show. She has no problem dishing about her co-workers and the lack of tantrums thrown on set. Kaling even sets out a list of similarities and differences between herself and her character on the show, Kelly Kapoor.
Although the book is written from a woman’s perspective and deals with feminine issues, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” is a book for anyone, whether male or female, who appreciates comedy. It is an easy, yet entertaining read. Fans of Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” will enjoy Kaling’s similar look back on her own life.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Avalon Jacka at Avalon.firstname.lastname@example.org.