November 17, 2011

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

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Kelly Kapoor, played by Mindy Kaling, delivers some of the most memorable lines from The Office. “I never really thought about death until Princess Diana died. That was the saddest funeral ever. That and my sister’s,” she says. Few know, however, that other than playing the ditsy customer service representative, Mindy Kaling also writes, produces and directs for the show. In addition, she has recently published Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).

In this book, Kaling covers everything from the Senegalese bully who terrorized in middle school to working with John Krasinski. She also includes an entire chapter devoted to fashion advice for guys (according to Kaling, men only really need a nice pea coat, straight leg jeans, a clean white t-shirt and a pair of converse to be well dressed).

Originally from the Boston area, Kaling attended Dartmouth, where she wrote for the school’s humor magazine, drew cartoons for the newspaper and performed in an improvisational comedy troop. Kaling only briefly mentions her college years in the book, but does say that she could not have become the person she is if she had not gone to college in the middle of nowhere. She writes, “You know that saying ‘big fish in a small pond’? At Dartmouth College, I was freakin’ Jaws in a community swimming pool,” and adds, “If I had gone to NYU, right now I’d be the funniest paralegal in a law firm in Boston.”

Kaling describes her years trying to “make it” in New York City as a writer and failing miserably. She discusses her stint as a babysitter for a very wealthy family and how she eventually made her way to becoming a production assistant on a psychic talk show called, Crossing Over With John Edward, which in the book she calls “Bridging the Underworld with Mac Teegarden.”

The book isn’t exactly a memoir — the stories from Kaling’s life are more anecdotes than anything else, and they are spaced out by chapters such as, “The Exact Level of Fame I Want” and “Why Do Men Put Their Shoes On So Slowly?” Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is no great work of literature, but it is a pleasure to read. Kaling writes the way I imagine she talks: in eloquent rambles. Certain tangents are sure to cause readers to laugh out loud (I definitely did) and others to silently chuckle in self-reflection.

The book is so charming  in part because it seems very genuine. Kaling is fully aware of how awesome her job is and writes about it as if she’s writing to a friend she hasn’t seen in a while and is filling him or her in about her life. After having read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), you feel like if you ran into Mindy Kaling on the street, you could nod at her, and say, “Sup, Mindy?”

While Kaling does discuss how she ended up as a writer on The Office, her advice and stories about the workplace are not specific to people interested in show business. She doesn’t use jargon and isn’t overly humble. There’s nothing as annoying as when someone accomplished says, “It’s all just luck that I’m here!” While there is a little of that, mostly she admits that she worked to get to the place that she is (plus a tad good fortune).

Despite its flowery cover, the book is not just for teenage girls who like reading about fashion and want to work in comedy who will enjoy Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). That being said, if you are a teenage girl who likes reading about fashion and wants to work in comedy, then this book will be your bible. If any men out there are embarrassed to be seen reading it, they should suck it up, because one does not need ovaries to appreciate Kaling’s humor. If it is that big of a concern, buy a copy of Simon Pegg’s memoir, Nerd Do Well, and exchange the covers (incidentally that book is also worth your time).

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) a perfect beach read, or a perfect five-hour-bus-ride-home-to-New Jersey read. As Kaling herself writes in the introduction, “This book will take you two days to read. Did you even see the cover? It’s mostly pink. If you’re reading this book every night for months, something is not right.”

All things considered, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is a darling, quick read that will make you fall in love with its author. It will make you have a much greater appreciation for Kelly Kapoor and absolutely will make you crave cupcakes and delicious Chicken Tikka Masala.

Original Author: Julia Moser