I recently went on a petit shopping spree at the Harvard Coop. There were several books I had been waiting to buy until they came out in paperback and it just so happened on that one particular day I bought four of them.
One of those purchases was Mindy Kaling's "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)."
In reading Mindy's autobiography one thing became crystal clear - had I been born Indian, we could be the same person. Allow me to explain. Mindy grew up in an idyllic suburb of Boston - same as me. Mindy did not learn to ride a bike until she was 12 years old - same as me. Mindy was petrified to climb the rope in gym class - same as me. Mindy's idea of after school fun was watching sitcoms on TV - same as me. In her adult life, Mindy online shops so often she has her credit card number memorized - same as me.
One major difference between Mindy and me, the one you all know her for, is that she's wickedly funny. It turns out her rise to television fame was not easy and charmed. After graduating from Dartmouth, Mindy moved to New York City with her two best friends. They lived in total squalor, but they survived because they had each other. Mindy's idol was Conan O'Brien and she just wanted to get in with his show. After a few rounds of failed interviews, she took a job as a nanny for a family in Brooklyn.
Eventually Mindy did break into the TV world with a job on a psychic's TV show. After years of attempts to break into comedy she finally received a spot on the writing team at "The Office." As you all know, Mindy became famous for her role as Kelly Kapoor.
Currently Mindy stars on her own sitcom on FOX called "The Mindy Project," which I have to say is laugh out loud funny. It quickly replaced "Modern Family" and "New Girl" as the funniest show in my DVR. While reading this book I learned that "The Mindy Project" has several parallels to Mindy's real life. Just one example: on the show Mindy's best friend is a beautiful blonde named Gwen. In real life, Mindy's best friend is a beautiful blonde named Bren (short for Brenda).
Even if you didn't watch "The Office" and you don't currently watch Mindy's new show, you'll find her book hilarious. Anyone who takes the 71 bus can attest to how often I laughed out loud.
One of my favorite passages in the book is when Mindy rips into John Cougar Mellencamp's song "Jack & Diane." For two full pages she talks about how unrealistic the story line is and how she just can't get as excited as the rest of America when that song comes on the radio or at a bar or a wedding. She explains what kind of song she wishes it was:
"I wish there was a song called 'Nguyen & Ari,' a little ditty about a hardworking Vietnamese girl who helps her parents with their franchised Holiday Inn they run, and does homework in the lobby, and Ari, a hardworking Jewish boy who does volunteer work at his grandmother's old-age home, and they meet after school at the Princeton Review. They help each other study for the SATs and different AP courses, and then, after months of studying, and mountains of flashcards, they kiss chastely upon hearing the news that they both got into their top college choices. That is a song teens need to inadvertently memorize. Now that's a song I'd request at Johnny Rockets!"
Mindy had me in stitches for all 222 pages. If you're looking for a new book, I highly recommend hanging out with Mindy and reading up on her concerns.