Before listening to Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, I knew Mindy Kaling only as the self-obsessed and sometimes annoying Kelly Kapoor from NBC’s The Office. I didn’t know that she also coproduces the show, and additionally has written some of its most hilarious episodes (anyone remember the episode where Michael accidentally grills his foot in a George Foreman? That was all Mindy). Other things I didn’t know about Mindy: contrary to her office character, she is really smart, and to top it off, hilarious.
Her book, a compilation of short stories, anecdotes, lists, and essays, chronicles what it was like growing up as the daughter of two immigrant parents, searching for work after college, her current exploits, and really anything else she feels like talking about, which was absolutely fine by me. The book is structured very much like Tina Fey’s recent hit, Bossypants, in both format, and the progression from childhood to what it’s like to be a female comedian in today’s world.
While the audio book version of Bossypants was no doubt an enjoyable listen, I actually appreciated Kaling’s book more so than Fey’s. I know what some of you might be thinking. “Blasphemy! How could the writing of this actress, surely lower on the comedic totem pole than Fey, even compare to such a comedic Goddess?” For one thing, I found Kaling to be more personal, her stories more touching, and her advice, for the most part, spot on. And her writing was short and to the point (the audio version lasting just 4 hours and 37 minutes). Granted, I did listen to Fey’s book back in April of this year, and not having the best memory, I may not be in a place to accurately compare the two. Just know that they are both great in their own right, and it is probably a matter of personal preference which of the two interests you more.
Kaling’s descriptions are so utterly perfect at times that they had me laughing out loud (something that I assure you, books and movies can rarely make me do). Even the events most would recount with an air of sadness are made lighter by Kaling. For instance, at one point she describes that inevitable point many of us have faced in our lives, when high school ends and friends go their separate ways. Kaling writes of her best friend: “When we graduated high school, she went to Cooper Union in Manhattan to pursue her love of set design, and I went to Dartmouth, to pursue my love of white people in North face Parkas.”
Later, Kahling describes her struggles landing a job after college with the same tinge of humor. Going on her first dance audition for an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical after leaving Dartmouth, she bought herself a leotard, tights, and wrap-around skirt to really impress everyone. Clearly, she had never been to a dance audition in New York City, and had she ever watched a dance movie of any kind, she would have known that her choice of outfit was not the typical attire. ”At the audition, I looked like an F-ing idiot. The other girls were all dressed in versions of what actual dancers wear, which is low key black leggings, tank tops, sneakers. I looked like a children’s birthday party performer playing Angelina Ballerina. You know, the Ballet dancing mouse.” Not everyone relates the way to dance as I do, so I’ll leave you with one more of my favorite passages.
Kahling’s list of the rules of friendship was another sweet spot in the book. I particularly enjoyed the rule, “I should never be overly harsh when something doesn’t look good on you, because I know you are fragile about this and so am I. I will employ the gentle, vague expression, ‘I’m not crazy about that on you.’ Which should mean to you, holy sh**, take that off, that looks terrible!”
I get that this book may be more appealing to females than males. After all, the cover is bursting with pink, and its content covers somewhat girly terrain (she is a female, after all). But does that mean that there is no material within its pages that males might find funny? No. Plus, you guys might even learn something (please reference the chapter on the perfect boyfriend). So at the very least, steal it from your girlfriend’s shelf and skim through it.
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars