I started reading Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) because I love that someone who is obviously brilliant would be willing to write herself such a shallow character as Kelly Kapoor and seem to have fun with it (Kaling is a co-executive producer/writer/director on The Office. And she plays Kelly) and because one of my friends on that ubiquitous social networking site said “it’s even better than Tina Fey.” I was intrigued. I love Tina Fey, but I had not gotten around to reading her book yet. I am, as I said, intrigued by Mindy Kaling.
So on the long flight across country without pre-schoolers, I read most of Kaling’s book. I finished it up and purchased Fey’s Bossypants for the flight home (have I mentioned how dangerous it is to be able to buy books instantly on the iPad?). I don’t really want to compare the books as if it were a competition. Read them both! Or not. I will add some of my thoughts.
Both women are hilarious. Seriously. Laughing out loud on an airplane hilarious.
Before their television careers, both of them came out of comedy work–Fey in “Second City” and Kaling with her own two-person about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck starring herself and a friend. Yes. I know. It sounds insane. I bet it was. I wish I could have seen it.
I probably laughed out loud more at Fey’s book, but I’m pretty sure some of that is an age-and-stage thing. She’s only one year older than I am and she has a kid only one year older than mine. There are certain things that those of us who came of age in the 80s just share.
That said, some of the things that come from that late eighties/early nineties world seemed tired.
Kaling’s book felt fresh. It was also a little less provocative. I would be more likely to recommend it broadly. Fey’s book I would recommend with disclaimers.
Favorite moments: In Fey’s book, I was really fascinated by the chapter on the SNL/Sarah Palin phenomenon. It was a cool inside look. There are some other really great moments. “The Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat” and “The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter” are both pretty great.
In Kaling’s book, I think it was her relationships with her friends that I enjoyed most. She also has great chapter titles. And I just really like her perspective on things. She writes without cynicism.
Compare/contrast is one of the first essay types we learn. It’s a way to categorize and say something. It’s hard not to do. We do it constantly. Well, I do, anyway. But Ms. Fey is right. It doesn’t have to be a competition. They were both really funny books by really talented writers. I ate them up. Perfect light, airplane reading.
Now on to the meatier stack of books the Rev Doc has handed me–I rarely make it out of her office without a book or three in my hands–that I kept looking at wistfully and longingly but ignored completely in the flurry of teaching a class. I’m looking forward to digging in.