Tuesday 06 March 2012

Kaling All Cars

Disclaimer: I love Mindy Kaling a little bit.

I finished Mindy Kaling’s brilliant Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? today. It’s a bloody good read. I seriously suggest you buy the book or get it on your Kindle (other e-readers are available). Or – if you are reading this in 2016 – get it in 5mg dissolvable tablet format and swallow it.

I don’t want to categorise it alongside Tina Fey’s Bossypants because it looks like I am saying that these are the same kind of person as they are both recently successful female comedians. Yes, they are both American. And women. However, the reasons their books are similar are: they are both very funny and brilliantly observed; they are both written in a ‘collection of essays’ type way (essays in the sense of short chapters, not in the sense of Chaucer quoting 44-page diatribes); they are both written by sitcom writers of the highest pedigree and they are both integral people behind the cameras of two of the most successful sitcoms of recent years (The Office and 30 Rock).

 More importantly, at least for me, Kaling’s book was not Sunshine on Putty which has been annoying me with every read (fuck you Guardian, “’an erudite (and funny) account of British comedy in the 90’s” is it? Well if you describe something as erudite when it says something happened in a Christmas Special that actually happened months before in the regular season, then yeah – I suppose you would think it was erudite; it is not a funny book. Hence, ‘fuck you Guardian’ from earlier). It’s done the mistake about Partridge again. I thought it might just have been a typo on the timeline but no, it’s there again in the prose of a chapter. It was sold to me as more of a book about comedy in the 90s in which one might expect some of the author’s voice but not an overpowering stench of his opinion and views presented forcefully. Is Frank Skinner really not that different from Bernard Manning? Yes, yes he is.

 Anyway, it is dismissive to say I enjoyed IEHOWM because it is not a mediocre biography of British comedy in the 90s. Kaling has strong views on many things – and thankfully she is not afraid to share them. I am not sure everyone could get away with a chapter about how annoying Jewish people are but Kaling just about manages it, don’t worry this is no Mein Kampf*. There are also her thoughts on modern movie plots, relationships, how she made it and how annoying it is to be asked about being a woman in comedy. This is something that also crops up in Tina Fey’s book – though she discusses it at slightly more length, though (rightly) not much more. It must get really annoying being asked the question all the time. I have read stuff where both have been complimented on writing well for women – well they both write pretty fucking well for men as well. Oh wait that just means they are both just great writers. And actors. And producers – and directors, if you are Kaling.

If you buy it and don’t like it (at all). I will owe you one drink**. 

*I am making a semi-assumption here, as I have never read Mein Kampf. I am almost certain it doesn’t have a small chapter where AH gently derides some habits of his large group of Jewish friends. Maybe it did though. Maybe that is how it all started. To be fair she does get a bit angry, maybe it is more like Mein Kampf than I dare admit.

**No guarantees I will ever make good on this debt.

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