Mindy Kaling is many things. She's a writer. An actress. A blogger. A fantastically funny lady who… C'mon, does she really need an introduction? Do you even want to read this intro paragraph? No, no you do not.
Anyhow! Mindy was here for a live chat, and she tackled readers' questions about anything and everything. It was as delightful as you'd expect. Check it out below.
Hi everyone — it's time to emote with Mindy! Mindy, are you with us, somewhere out there in the ether?
Oh man, that made me seem helpless.
Mindy, hi! All good on your end?
Excellent! Not helpless at all.
Whoa I can tell this going to be fun already. I have that newbie overconfidence.
Here is my question: Do you prefer acting, writing, or directing? Would you ever do a Prince/Woody Allen/Barbra Streisand type project that you write, star in and direct? Because I am already on line for tickets for that.
That's the best. Be bold, unafraid! Let's get started, everyone's super excited to have you here!
Hi Dodai - my necklace hook-up buddy! hi! First of all, thanks for thinking I could even do something like that and saying you'd wait in line for that. I'd say I'd like to be a Tyler Perry version of what you're talking about. Where I'm the creator and writer and director and play a pivotal cross-dressing role in the project?
That sounds great!
Jessica, has this started? I'm writing with a "this has started" energy.
It's started. We are live.
THIS HAS STARTED. This is real. It's happening. I feel the tingles.
Do you think other people will show up besides you two, Jessica and Dodai?
(it would be fine if it was just us three).
Here's my question: You sat next to Bill freaking Clinton yesterday. Which is amazing. But...what did he smell like? Ralph Lauren Romance? Old Spice?
(we're going to start cutting and pasting questions from the comments, everyone's here!)
Bill Clinton had no noticeable smell. I did notice how fit and thin he was. Which was weird to me - if I was a retired ex-president I'd be huge. Remember how Tyra Banks pretty much gave up runway modeling to be a talk show host/mogul, and put on fifty pounds, basically (but still looks gorgeous)? I'd do that.
It was terrifying. I looked terrified.
You looked pretty confident on our end of things.
Commenter piranhas_are_a_trick asks: Do you have any sort of litmus test for jokes where you can just say, "Yeah. I can tell that's definitely a funny one that I just wrote"?
(By the way, his secret service was so good-looking. Like better looking than dramatized in movies. Like Mark Harmon in West Wing was an accurate depiction.)
My litmus test for jokes is if I can't wait to get it out. Like, I interrupt any of the other 16 writers in the middle of their sentences so I can blurt it out.
JinxyMcDeath asks: Of all the amazing and funny people you've worked with, who's the funniest in real life and not just when performing?
Also, there are four people on set whose laughs I appreciate more than anyone else: Paul Lieberstein (Toby, and my boss and showrunner), BJ Novak (friend, very difficult to make laugh) and John and Rainn (funny guys with great senses of humors).
B.J. Novak is the funniest person I know.
GameOfHousewives asks: Could Kelly be the fourth Kardashian sister?
SkaHimself asks: If the apocalypse ever happened and the only two groups of survivors were the American Cast of The Office and the British cast of The Office, who would win in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max face off where your only weapons were items found in your respective offices.
Kelly would die to be a Kardashian and probably thinks of herself as such. She's the fourth Kardashian sister the way Kristen Wiig is the weird deformed sister in the SNL Lawrence Welk sketch.
SkaHimself, great apocalypse question. I'd say American Cast, because of sheer numbers...and Creed. Creed is deadly.
amy4683 asks: I'm new to long-form improv and I love it. But it's also really male-dominated, which can be frustrating sometimes! Do you have any tips for women in improv?
But Gareth had those frightening sunken lemur eyes...
amy4683 I applaud you! Improv is so freaking hard. Tina writes in her book Bossypants about how Amy used to always have to play boring "female" parts like secretary or wife or whatever that existed only to give exposition. That stinks. I say be really bold. Take on guy parts, start scenes as big strong character with point of view. All guys I know who are actually really good at improv LOVE women who are good at it too.
M Paula Phillips asks: Hello Mindy! I'm totally on a conference call for work right now but I would never miss this opportunity of a lifetime. What is the best thing that you have done when you should have been working?
Yeah Paula! Way to shirk work! Ferris Bueller time!!
poorbert says: MINDY. I LOVE YOU. YOU MAKE ME SO HAPPY. Also, if you were given the resources to create an entirely new show, for which you were the boss of everything, what might that show look like? What do you think TV-land needs more of, or less of? What would your very own show be about? Who would your dream co-stars be?
I once sat in our writers room when we were trying to pitch on Jim talking heads (those scenes when the characters address the camera) and I was imdb'ing Chris Evans on my phone because I decided we'd probably be a really good couple in real life and I wanted to know what his movie roles had been. That's pretty good time wasting, no?
(YES I can totally see you and Chris Evans together)
poorbert, I'm moved by your all caps. What a great question!
I'm writing a pilot right now where I am the star of a killer ensemble. A killer ensemble to me includes lots of opinionated, flawed characters who are acting in an authentic way. I wish I saw female friendships and relationships depicted more the way I have them in my life. That's why Bridesmaids was so good. Didn't you love Maya and Kristen's friendship?
As for how it looks, that I'm not sure of. Cheers and Seinfeld are so funny and multi-cam sitcoms which I am really fond of. But I also love the feel of 30 Rock or The New Girl which are single camera. I guess I'll see how the script turns out and then decide the best format.
Emmy Kastner asks: How many times a day do people tell you, "We could totally be friends IRL!" Part 2: How many times a day are you weirded out by that question."
I love Angie from 30 Rock, Tracy's wife. I love Schmidt from the New Girl. I love Cliff Claven, Niles from Frasier, and Sam Malone. I want them all in my show!
Hi Emmy! People tweet that at me sometimes, and I LOVE IT. I've said this before, but I basically want to spend 80% of my life with women. Currently my two best friends and my mom (de factor best friend) live in New York and Boston, respectively, while I live in Los Angeles. I work with mostly guys so the percentages are switched. It's more like 80-90% of my life is with guys and 10% with women. So when I hear that I love it. It makes me feel connected to girl pals, if only through the 'net (internet).
Mindy, how is your hair so shiny? Seriously.
I read your book out of love for you (duh) and also to find out what makes it so shiny.
Care to fill us in?
physicsgirl, thank you. I have ten strands of hair but they are very healthy and shiny. Seriously I have the finest, thinnest hair, but the hair people I use always know how to fluff it up and flat-iron it so it's like a Pantene commercial.
My book is shiny?? Thank you!
pokey_staples says: What was the last movie that made you cry? High ponytails after the age of 30...yay or nay?
High ponytails: yes, for sure. Pigtails though...only for a anime school girl fetish themed party.
Last movie that made me cry: the Hunger Games trailer. does that count? When Katniss takes the place of her sister Prim to play in the Hunger Games. That made me tear up.
colleen asks: What do you think Beyonce and Jay-Z should name their baby?
I know it's trite, but I like the backlash trend of celebrities naming their kids very plain old person names, like Henry or Esther. So I'm hoping they name her Sylvia or Vivian.
the glamwich asks: What are you thoughts on the outlook of women of color (and women in general) in mainstream comedy? With folks like you, Maya Rudolph, Retta, and the team at Awkward Black Girl things seem to be looking up, but I suspect it's still pretty uphill.
(let us know if/when you need to take off!)
I wish there were more women of color onscreen in comedy, for sure. One tough thing I think is even though casting for pilots and movies are open to most ethnicities for parts, there's just a scarcity of female parts in general in stuff. And then, if one of the cast members is a minority, theres such a relief with producers ("yay! We cast a minority! We're on record for being racially sensitive! phew!") that there's very little incentive to cast TWO people of color, if that makes sense? But I do think that's changing. All my favorite shows now compared to, say, even ten years ago, have more diverse casts. It's slow, though.
jessica, I can stay until 4! unless that is too long.
No, fantastic! Thank you!
Zalina Alvi asks: The childhood friend you mention in your book, the one who you bonded with over comedy and left your Cheesecake Factory friends for, have you been in contact since the book came out? Would it be weird to ask what she's up to these days?
Mavis (whose name I changed in the book) came to see Matt & Ben in 2002, but that was the first time I had seen her in about five years. She was so sophisticated when I saw her, long hair, really put together, and lived in Brooklyn with her boyfriend. She is a social worker now!
LaComtesse asks: what are the fashions you would like to see 1) take off 2) go away 3) come back?
I love dressy shorts and jumpsuits. I wish I could wear them everywhere. I just tried to convince my best friend that i could wear one to her wedding as a bridesmaid and she hated it super passionately. I love wedge boots and I wish men would get on board with them. I don't dress expressly for men or anything, but it would be nice if every guy I knew didn't hate that style. (Why do they hate wedge shoes?).
I hate ironic t-shirts.
ImDatNinja (loves her Red Sox) asks: Mindy. Where is the best place to have a first date? Romance, intelligence, surprise all at once?
Best first date? Wow! I wish I knew. I once was taken by a guy to the Santa Monica high school theater performance of The Music Man, then a tapas bar after. That was pretty great. The guy went no where but it was a really fun night.
worb asks: I'm 17 and I want to write for TV when I'm older. How can I do that?
Hi worb. I'd start by writing sketches, or learning to write sketches. When I was your age I'd buy anthologies of collected sketches and study them, nerdily. Here are links to Monty Python and SNL sketches.
My high school didn't offer playwriting or sketch-writing courses but now I think they're a bit more commonplace. If you can enroll in that, great. If not, try to apply to a college that has a good film/playwriting department, or if you want to write for comedy shows, look at schools with great comedy magazines. Harvard, Stanford, Emerson, and many many more have great comedy writing classes and newspapers.
AboutNuts says: You didn't talk much about Indian culture in your book—not that you had to—but I was curious about that part of your life. It's such a strong, beautiful culture. How did you learn to find your own light in that?
Worb, learning to write dialogue is a special skill that is very different than, say, writing an essay or poem, even though it's all kind under the loose rubric of "English class". That's why you want to go to a school where you can learn that skill. I can't write an essay to save my life - I can only write dialogue.
Hi AboutNuts! It's funny, I had a slightly different upbringing than my other friends and classmates whose parents were Indian immigrants. The reason is because my parents didn't meet in India, they met in Africa. This is relevant because they are from vastly different parts of India. My dad is Tamil, born and raised in Madras, and my mother is Bengali, and was raised mostly in Mumbai. As they would characterize it, it's like a man from the deep south married a woman from Manhattan. Very different culturally. Dad speaks Tamil and English, and Mom speaks Bengali, Hindi and English. So English was their only common language. I was not raised speaking an indian dialect. My parents adopted a kind of Boston-by-way-of-India-by-way-of-Nigeria culture with some Indian flourishes: Christmas dinner cooked in the traditional American style but with shrimp curry where all we do is talk about the Celtics.
But I do consider myself Hindu. I wrote an Office episode about the Hindu holiday Diwali.
Sorry for this long-winded answer.
Jezebel writer Erin Ryan asks: When's the first time you felt famous?
also your previous answer was not long-winded at all, you are awesome!
Hi Erin! I think the first time I felt famous was at an Golden Globes after-party in 2007 when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were super excited to meet Office cast members and writers.
weaslette asks: Mindy, I noticed that when you google your name in images, a related search of "mindy kaling hot" pops up. That's awesome because it means you're hot, but is it also a little weird knowing that people are googling you just to oogle you? Have you ever had weird google searches or inquiries from the internet?
I also felt super famous and special when I was asked to do a cameo for SNL for that great Kenan Thompson sketch "What's Up with That", where I was the second guest to Al Gore on his fictional talk show.
I think you have to go soon (or now, gah), but there's one burning question of particular importance to Jezebel staff and readers: Pie or cake?
The googling thing is really hard for me. Because for every "Mindy Kaling hot" there is, there's other more disturbing ones, like "mindy kaling scars" or "mindy kaling fat" or "mindy kaling pregnant" or even strangely "mindy kaling house arrest". (Yes, I google myself. Everyone does this. I just try to keep mine to 3 times a week and never weekends.)
I'll put them to rest right now:
I have a scar on each of my shoulders from childhood injuries that healed badly and turned into keloids (dark skinned girls will know what i'm talking about). They are weirdly, roughly symmetrical, but at least they match!
As for Mindy Kaling fat, well, yup, I'm kind of a chubster. Don't mind it that much, unless I can't fit into my clothes anymore (who wants to buy all new clothes?).
I am not pregnant.
Oh! and I'm not under house arrest!
Jessica, the best question. I love pie but a golden yellow cake with chocolate frosting is a thing of beauty, like Jude Law in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Good night, folks! Thanks Jezebel!
Thanks, Mindy! (Best hour ever.)