Updated on May 24, 2015
14. ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?’ by Mindy Kaling
I complete my trifecta of funny women’s autobiographies with Mindy Kaling’s offering, following Amy Poehler and Tina Fey‘s books. You may know Kaling from the American version of The Office (which I expected would be awful but which turned out to be totally awesome) and The Mindy Project (a show I haven’t gotten round to watching yet, but really must).
[By the way, I’ve heard that Ellie Kemper of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fame is also going write a book. Hooray for book deals for female comedians!]
I’ve read a few of these comic books now and there’s a definite pattern to them: they’re a mixture of autobiography, honest advice and hilarious anecdotes/observations. Interestingly, all three of the women I’ve read have struggled with body image issues at some point (mainly stemming from societal expectations) and dealt with their perceived shortcomings by turning to comedy. These women, who are at the forefront of comedy stardom today, weren’t the most popular, outgoing or beautiful girls in school. They were, for want of a more polite word, oddballs – that’s probably why they stand out so brilliantly now as performers. As a result, these books serve a pretty uplifting purpose for younger readers: you might not think you’re all that now, but work really hard and embrace your quirks, and other people could start loving you for them.
Once again, we get some interesting behind-the-scenes views of the world of TV, particularly her time on The Office which seems like it was amazing fun to make (despite, or perhaps because of, Mindy’s ever-changeable moods). I enjoyed reading about her early attempts at comedy writing with her roommate and best friend Bren, and her brief stint on SNL where she met Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and felt both super inspired and terribly intimidated by them. She also shares her thoughts on marriage, best-friendship and stylists choosing her clothes.
One of my favourite parts was Kaling’s dissection of romantic comedies. She loves these movies, absolutely eats them up, but the women in them do tend to fall into certain categories: there’s the beautiful klutz (who is perfect apart from her clumsiness), the ethereal weirdo (beautiful and adorably quirky) and the masculine woman with a job (the one who’s always a bitch or ball-buster in the workplace). Her observations about these fairly unflattering tropes are right on point.
If you liked Bossypants and Yes Please, you’ll like this – it’s another funny book in a similar vein, from a slightly less established (but certainly on her way up) comedy queen.
“I just felt that by commenting on [whether women are funny], it would be a tacit approval of it as a legitimate debate, which it isn’t.”
Want to read this? You can buy the book here.