Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ideal Dinner Party Guest: Mindy Kaling

One of my absolute favourite people on one of my absolute favourite TV series in life, The Office, is comedy writer Mindy Kaling, who plays the self-centered, gossip-obsessed customer service manager Kelly Kapoor. 
Although Kelly is vain and morally suspect, that doesn’t mean that she’s not a comic gem. She’s the awful high school drama queen I always thought was entertaining to observe as a budding sociopath, but was always careful never to anger. When a character returns from sabbatical and asks her what’s been going on in her life, Kelly regurgitates various tabloid headlines. When asked again about what was going on in her life, she retorts, “I just told you!” Never one to miss an opportunity to get what she wants no matter the repercussions, she fakes a pregnancy to the co-worker she’s dating and when confronted on the false pregnancy, is aghast as to why he would be upset. While this behaviour is appalling on a superficial read, it’s made hilariously compelling by Kaling’s impeccable delivery. It’s no wonder that she’s a co-executive producer and writer on The Office.

Kaling comes off as opinionated and charming in interviews, and her quick wit and sharp mind are worlds away from the character she plays. Kaling’s musings marry Jerry Seinfeld’s observational humour with Tina Fey’s wry wisdom, and they are captured in her upcoming collection of biographical essays entitled Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns). Her inspired take on life doesn’t follow the conventional biographical route charting birth to life at the publication stage. Rather, Kaling reveals humble truths about herself, but does so in an irreverent and caustic manner. For instance, having pancakes for breakfast destroys all her productivity for the remainder of the day. This should be made a matter of public record and there should really be infomercials about such dangers.

Her criterion for her ideal man, at one point in her life, is simple:

"At that time I remember thinking: I just want a buy who has not been, at one point in his life, diagnosed with clinical depression. That was my only criteria. Oh, and that he wouldn't make me convert religions if things got serious. One thing you should know abut me: I absolutely refuse to stop being a basically atheist, culturally Hindu, deeply superstitious Christmas treehave-r."

It’s the little details that make her wit shine. It is one thing to make a comment snide, but it’s quite another to make it knowing. And still another to make it funny. For instance, there is her endearing, yet funny and very true promise to her best friend: 

But don’t get mad if I can’t keep track. Robby? Don’t we hate him? No, we love him. Okay, okay sorry.”

In stark contrast to Kelly Karpoor, Mindy Kaling is a wise, funny, thoroughly delightful cut-up who the Blogger imagines would make an exciting dinner party guest. There’s an excellent excerpt of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) here. Instead of reading the “literature” of a reality TV star whose only claim to fame is embarrassing him- or herself in public regularly, why not pick up a book by a real writer? 

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) is released by Crown Publishing Group today, just in time for Christmas. The Blogger can’t wait … that long. I suppose it would be appropriate to get a copy in the fourth quarter, since I’m a "deeply superstitious Christmas treehave-r", too.