Mindy Kaling

This Office worker talks about her new book with her bestie.

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Mindy Kaling (right) and Brenda Withers

Mindy Kaling (right) and Brenda Withers Photograph: Courtesy of Crown Publishing

Through her work as a writer, executive producer and actor playing gossip Kelly Kapoor on The Office, Mindy Kaling comes across as the sort of person other people feel like they know. Though her chatty new memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), is convincingly accessible, TONY was determined to get the scoop from her best friend (and cocreator of the Off Broadway hit Matt & Ben), Brenda Withers, who we knew would not only ask the tough questions, but needle Kaling about her love for the Red Sox.

People come up to me often and say, "Oh, you're friends with Mindy, it's so amazing. What's she really like?" I take pride in not telling them because I'm very possessive of you. But in the book, you come through loud and clear, and a lot of people are going to feel close to you. So, do you have any regrets about betraying your best friends that way?
Well, I'm glad you don't tell them about the time I threw some trash on a homeless person that I thought was a pile of garbage.

[Laughs] Oh my God!
That really did happen, and the fact that you never told anyone that is amazing. If you did that, I would tweet that out to everybody.

Well, we were young, we were young: 24. Remember when we went to see David Sedaris at school in that little, weird poetry library? He was the first in a long line of artists you introduced me to and I still feel you're on the cutting edge. Where do you get your information about new things in art and culture?
I'd just heard of David Sedaris because of all of his stuff about Christmastime. My family and I thought, Oh, he's hilarious and he's gay and he made us feel very emancipated and cosmopolitan for liking him so much. I feel ancient when people are talking about edgy Adult Swim shows and cool improv things that are on in back of Chinese restaurants.

Playwrights get really bitter about other playwrights who move on and get successful in other areas like television writing. I feel similarly that people in New York are really bitter—myself included—about people who move to L.A. and are having a nice time. Are you now one of the people who no longer understands that rage we underdogs feel?
I have never felt that, even at the times I think I have achieved what most people would consider a lot of success; I have never had a chip on my shoulder or felt that everyone was against me. So in that way, I have not lost my roots at all.

Interesting. I wonder if that has anything to do with your continued love of the Boston Red Sox.
[Laughs]

Why would you continue to back a team of ruffians when, for instance, there's a team like the New York Yankees, full of winners who are clean-cut, well-paid, polite guys?
It is only with the New York Yankees that you show yourself as the worst kind of bully! It's the only place when you're like, Oh, [the Red Sox are] so uncouth!

You have always been the funniest person in the room and I've pitied you for that because I'm like, Who makes Mindy laugh?
I'm glad you said that, Brenda, because in comedy I am a metaphorical cobbler, and often I have felt like the cobbler that goes shoeless.

You know how we've said pretty girls want to be told that they're smart and smart girls want to be told that they're pretty? What do funny people want to be told?
Funny actors end up wanting to do their serious thing, like Peter Sellers's Being There, because the award system says you can't win an Oscar unless you're playing somebody who survived the Haiti earthquake. In the end, funny people want to think they're smart.

The book is full of wonderful advice, so I'm curious who you take advice from.
I find a lot of wisdom in television programs.

For instance?
For instance, from the show Breaking Bad, I've learned the lesson not to dabble in meth. By the way, I'm sad that you feel that way about L.A., because I would still love to drag you out here.

I only feel that way in L.A. from the airport to your house. Once I get to your house, I'm completely comfortable.
It's because I live in a black neighborhood, right? You can just say that you're scared.

[Laughs] I'm not scared, I'm skittish, I'm skittish.

Mindy Kaling reads at Barnes & Noble 82nd & Broadway Wed 2.

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