Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)
In the past year, I have read two books by writers of The Office television series: the fantabulous collection of short stories titled One More Thing, by B.J. Novak, and this hilarious memoir by Mindy Kaling. (For those of you not versed in The Office lore, Novak and Kaling also acted in the show, portraying annex-dwelling tempestuous lovers Ryan and Kelly.) I adored The Office, and I tried really, really hard not to let my affection for the show color my impressions.
Well, either I failed, or the books really are as great as the show. The stories in One More Thing were thoughtful and warm-hearted as well as funny–think Michael Scott trying to express how much he loves his co-workers, just before hitting one of them with his car.
But this review is about Kaling’s book. She is a little less intellectual–and a little less cuddly–than Novak, and I like her even better. She is clever, sassy, and just sweet enough to avoid being labeled a “mean girl”. She tells her life story in chuckle-inducing vignettes, from her days as a plump child with the same haircut as her brother, to her big break portraying Ben Affleck in a two-woman show she wrote. (It was a big break–literally. She broke her co-star’s nose during a performance.) As she approaches the present, she sprinkles in stories about Hollywood life and work at The Office, but she largely focuses on relatable topics like dating, dieting, and things she finds funny.
I have read memoirs by a few other well-known comedians, and I think I like Kaling’s so well because she is relatable. She struggles with her weight, binge-watches Chappelle’s Show, and longs to meet a nice guy. She hasn’t lost her sense of the real world in the face of flashbulbs. And isn’t that why we liked The Office so much? We could empathize with the characters while were were laughing at them.