September 3 2014

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Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Mindy Kaling?


In her new book of musings, memories, advice, and gently inflected agita, Mindy Kaling (above) ponders a time-honored question: Is everybody hanging out without me? (It’s not just a concern—it’s also the title.) But as worries go, it’s not well-founded. These days, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t want to get close to the writer and producer, who divides her days between The Office, screenwriting, and a new comedy pilot she’s developing for NBC, about a young OB-GYN. Among her many fans: Tory Burch, who hosts a party for Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? at her Madison Avenue boutique tonight. “I have been a fan of Mindy’s for years from The Office (‘Fashion show, fashion show, fashion show at lunch!’), but I actually first met her on Twitter a few months ago,” Burch explains. “Out of the blue she wrote, ‘I love you Tory Burch, you closeted bling-loving Indian woman, you.’ She is hysterical.” (Kaling confirms: “[Tory] loves tunics and bling, like a good Indian woman should.”) Here, checks in with new author to talk L.A. style, writerly idols, and her new definition of luxury.

I imagine you sitting in a writers’ room 12 to 18 hours a day. When did you find time to write a book?
It’s pretty challenging. I did a lot of writing on the plane. I’d fly from L.A. to Boston to visit my parents, and I did a lot of writing on the plane. But I love my job; you could only loosely describe it as work anyway. Working on Saturday for my book doesn’t seem like work to me. I loved it.

How do you describe the finished product?
It’s comedy essays. A little bit of memoir. Short pieces. I would say that the longer pieces tend to be about my life. How I got my job on The Office, [for example]. But it’s a mixed bag.

Who are some other writers you admire?
Because I do so much comedy, I admire people with a completely different skill set. Vince Gilligan is the showrunner on Breaking Bad, which I think is an incredible show. Aaron Sorkin is an incredible writer, he’s one of the living legends right now. Quentin Tarantino.

And you’re working on your own pilot now. Anything you can share about that?
I don’t know all that much about it because I’m still working on it. It’s about a girl who’s an OB-GYN. My mom is an OB-GYN, so she’s always telling us funny stories about work. It seemed like a really juicy job for writing comedy. My job on the way back on the flight is to figure out all the characters and idea for the pilot.

I’m sensing a writing-on-planes theme here.
The new planes are fantastic. I love when I fly on a plane and they have an outlet. That’s my new luxury.

Do you have a go-to inflight outfit?
You know, Tory Burch once talked about plane essentials in a magazine. She recommended bringing a cashmere scarf that could also be a blanket if you’re cold. I have a kit I bring with me. J Brand zippered leggings, Converse or some kind of flat, tank top, an oversized cardigan. No makeup, or anything like that. Little earrings, in case I run into someone. You can do makeup or earrings—you can’t do neither. I once got on a plane with the Kardashians, and I thought I could not take a transcontinental flight wearing that much makeup and be comfortable. But I respect that. That’s their job.

How about in the writers’ room? Is there such a thing as L.A. comedy-writer style?
Comfort is key. I don’t think I’ve ever seen women on our staff wear high heels. It’s all ballet flats. [With the] men, I’m excited if see one of the guys not wearing New Balance sneakers. If they’re wearing loafers, you know they’re going to celebrate their anniversary or something. [But] living in L.A., there’s whole lines that are devoted to looking stylish in comfort at work. The average L.A. girl wears leggings and striped T-shirts and ballet flats. That’s acceptable in L.A. It’s very different from New York.

Halloween is upon us. Do you have a costume?
I’m going on The Daily Show, and I was thinking, I should go as Jon Stewart, but I don’t have enough time. Then I was going to go as the T-Mobile girl [from the ads], but I didn’t get a chance to get a pink dress. I haven’t mastered the sexy Halloween costume, but I really respect the girls who do.

Photos: Autumn de Wilde / Courtesy of Crown