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November 26, 2011

Weekend Reviews: Embracing quirkiness in life can be funny

Daily Star

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One day this past week while I was in between grueling loads of homework and college application stuff (I say stuff because there are no other words to describe that process), I decided to relax and tune into one of my favorite shows, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

No, this review is not all about how intelligent and hilarious I believe Stewart to be (although I do) and how everyone should watch his show (although you should).

Rather, this is about one of the books that Jon Stewart plugged on his show, and being the ever-faithful audience member that I am, I immediately pulled up my Kindle and bought it without even really knowing what it was about.

I decided to read it anyway and was immediately engrossed.

The book, titled "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" was written by Mindy Kaling, a writer and actress on the successful TV comedy "The Office."

I believe this book to be not an autobiography, but a memoir, which follows Kaling through all of her major milestones, from her childhood, to being an unemployed writer in New York City, attempting "Saturday Night Live," and eventually her experiences on "The Office" and becoming semi-famous.

This book is hysterical. There is no other way for me to describe it.

And I am definitely not saying this because I am an avid fan of "The Office" and am just completely biased when it comes to all of their writers' work.


Although I've watched episodes of the show, I've never regularly watched it and so I started reading the book completely objectively.

The good news is that you don't need to have any prior knowledge about Mindy Kaling before reading this book.

If you do, consider reading this to learn more about her.

If you don't know anything about her, you may be thinking, "But, Maggie, why should I read this book about someone I've never even heard of before?"

Well, dear reader, I will tell you why.

Everything Kaling writes about, from her awkward pubescent trials with friends, to her discouraging attempts to break into the comedy business, are totally interesting and slightly self-deprecating.

If you are not into sarcasm and quick wit, this is sadly not the book (nor the column) for you.

Kaling's writing flows very well from one subject to another, and she writes as if you were sitting on her couch sharing a cup of tea and reminiscing about every uncomfortable occurrence in your life, but in a good, "safe place" kind of way.

She presents her story in an unassuming tone and by the time you turn the last page, you feel as if you've made a new confidante.

What I enjoyed most about this memoir is how fully Kaling is able to embrace the fact that she is an unconventional person.

You might not be able to tell, but I too feel as though I may be slightly unusual.

Don't laugh and shake your head. You most likely are, too.

Throughout the book, Kaling addresses her body shape and how she deals with overwhelming pressures to succumb to the ideal body image. Chances are that most of us will never look like whoever it is on the cover of tabloids.

And although Kaling portrays her self-consciousness during many different times in her life, today she is a prime example of a healthy, successful woman who has worked hard for where she is now.

And where is she now? She's being talked about by yours truly, of course. Isn't that where every aspiring comedic writer wants to end up?

No? Well, she has also written one terrific book summarizing a life still very much in progress, and if it continues in the same way, it should serve for a great "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns): Part Two."

Go ahead and pick it up. When you finish it, you could always regift it and share the hilarity. What else were you going to get your sister for the holidays?

Maggie McVey is a senior at Oneonta High School. 'Teen Talk' columns can be found at