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Mindy Kaling and Other Funny Women

Posted By: Julia Sallo

OK, so I didn’t like Bridesmaids — an attempt to make women look funny by writing them into traditionally male humor in gender-stereotyped plot lines about the big, bad wedding. The best part of the film was Kristin Wiig herself, proving there are funny women out there, and it doesn’t take a major Hollywood film to see that. Amy Poehler is heating up Parks and Recreation. Tina Fey’s Bossypants is almost as popular as the ebook version in which she narrates the stories. And the best three minutes of each episode of The Office are those with Kelly Kapoor, played (and often written) by Mindy Kaling. 

On May 25, social media was buzzing about Mindy Kaling. She spoke (humorously, duh) at the Book Expo America breakfast, to which she was invited because of the impending release of her book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And then the Crown Publishing Group released a 27-page excerpt of the book and the crowds went wild. The excerpt covers a guide for men on appropriate fashion and dating skills, things Kaling doesn’t think you should do, and “Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities.” 

In “The Day I Stopped Eating Cupcakes,” Kaling reports that the shopkeeper at her favorite cupcake shop called her out as a frequent customer, and offered her a free cupcake in exchange for a promotional tweet. Try not to LOL at Kaling’s response: 

“I did not know it was possible to be triple offended. First of all, Manager Woman, if you notice that a 31-year-old woman is coming to your cupcake bakery every day for a week, keep that information to yourself. I don’t need to be reminded of how poor my food choices are on a regular basis. Secondly, how cheap and/or poor do you think I am? A cupcake costs two bucks! You think I’m miserly enough to think, like, “Oh goody, I can save those two bucks for some other tiny purchase later today”? And thirdly, even if I were to buy in to this weird bribey situation where I endorse your product, you think the cost of it would be one measly cupcake? The implications of this offer were far worse than anything she meant to propose, obviously, but I hate her forever nonetheless. This is why I never eat cupcakes anymore. The connotations are too disturbing to me.”

This is funny stuff, especially for Kaling’s target audience, an unmarried 20-something who eats up her irreverent and yet distinctly girly take on life (not dissimilar from her character Kelly on The Office). She reached a similar audience with her hilarious supporting role in No Strings Attached, in which she played Natalie Portman’s roommate. Lines such as “Tonight is about me, Emma. I'm feeling hot. I'm feeling good. I'm wearing bikini bottoms because my other underwear is dirty.” stole the show from Portman and Kutcher.  

Nerve Magazine listed Kaling as one of “Ten People Who Are Funnier on Twitter Than on TV.” And it’s true, her tweets are hilarious. She muses about which carbs she likes and which she doesn’t, describes fashion in brutally honest terms, and promotes girl power, linking to Beyonce music videos and Tina Fey talks. She perfectly captures female pop culture without realizing she’s doing it. However, the excerpt, and hopefully the rest, of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? will further the notion that Kaling is funny on Twitter, funny on TV, funny in movies and funny in print.

Macy Halford sums it up perfectly in a story for the New Yorker: “Funny women actor/writers—Tina, Mindy, Kristen, and Amy (first names only please)—are having a real cultural moment.” Despite Bridesmaids’ disappointing sink into rom-com territory, the terrific cast of women is generating this cultural movement. And alongside this major Hollywood film are other writers and comedians with even more to say about friendship, dating and, yes, cupcakes. 

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Was this reprinted directly from the press release?


Hi Janice, No, I wrote this in response to reading Kaling's book excerpt last week. I've never seen the press release! Thanks, Julia