is funny.Really,really funny.To use a long,highly specificmetaphor,she’s that one friend youcatch up with over lunch one day but wind upsitting back and letting herdominate the entire conver-sation.However,you’recompletely fine with itbecause you know she’s notan insufferable egotist,butsimply infinitely better attelling stories than youcould ever hope to be.It’sthat exact persona thatcomes across in her endear-ing memoir “
Is EveryoneHanging Out Without Me?(And Other Concerns)
”and makes it such a funand engaging read.In it,Kaling chroniclesher life from chubby Indiangirl with a tendency for asexual haircuts andCosby sweaters,to her years as a big fish atDartmouth College,her days as a broke,starv-ing,20-something New Yorker and to her envi-able life as an executive producer/writer/actresson NBC’s “The Office.”Similar to publishedworks by Chelsea Handler,Tina Fey and LaurieNotaro,the book is broken down into short,individual anecdotes and essays,althoughKaling’s are structured in chronological order tobring us up to speed on her thought processesfrom those dorky,asexual years to the present.Like everyone else,Kaling anticipates com-parisons to Handler and Fey,but quickly distin-guishes her own voice and perspective.She’scertainly as weird and goofy as Fey,but as thepink-dominated cover suggests,she’s muchgirlier.And she immediately eschews any simi-larities to Handler with essays entitled“Someone Explain One-Night Stands to Me”and “‘Hooking Up’is Confusing,”which shechalks up to a wholesome,traditional upbring-ing by her Indian parents and the inherentnerdiness that has kept her on the straight andnarrow since childhood.“Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities”will likely turn into one ofthose viral memesthat are constantly blasted to you by chain let-ter-happy aunts and grandmas.And thoughKaling’s witticisms may appear to be directedsolely at women,men would benefit by takingtips from her entirely accurate “Guys Need toDo Almost Nothing to Be Great”(essentials:well-fitting peacoat,dark-wash,straight-leg jeans,a signature drink and great non-drug-store-bought cologne).For “Office”fans,Kalingdedicates a whole section to hercareer,from her breakthroughplaying Ben Affleck in an off-off-Broadway show to a list of differences between herselfandKelly Kapoor (Kapoor wouldfake a rape for attention,Kalingwould not.Both would faketheir own death to catch a serialkiller.)Kaling’s prose is breezy andconversational and her intelli-gence and self-awareness arereadily apparent.It’s temptingto consider Kaling’s memoir asthe latest entry from a pan-theon ofestablished and risingTV female comedy writers like Fey,Handler,Kristen Wiig,Liz Meriwether and Whitney Cummings,but Kaling adamantly refuses to doso.In her closing chapter,she write directly about why she won’t delve into exploringwhether or not women are funny because “by commenting on that in any real way,it wouldbe tacit approval ofit as a legitimate debate,which it isn’t.”Everyone’s been jabbering aboutthe wild success of“Bridesmaids”and the glutofnew female-centric sitcoms,but Kaling has apoint.“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”is funny simply because Kaling is hilarious,notbecause ofher race or gender.Her success story is an encouraging one,proving that hard work(and not just looks) can take you far within theentertainment industry.
—lauren WILSONcontact lauren:firstname.lastname@example.org
hen it was first announcedthat
and hismusician wife,
,would be per-forming in a string of small theaters on theWest Coast,the SanFrancisco event sold outso quickly that they decided to put on a sec-ond show,which tookplace on Wednesday evening.It was,appropri-ately,Day ofthe Dead-themed.The set list consistedofa mix ofpoetry andprose by Gaiman,musicby Palmer,group acts (inwhich Gaiman sang) with their openingband,The Jane Austen Argument and a ques-tion-and-answer session that saw Gaiman andPalmer field audience questions from submit-ted cue cards.It was not quite a reading andnot quite a rock concert,but it was spellbind-ing,and the audience cheered in spades.Palmer played a wide range oftouching,inspiring and laughter-inducing songs,including her well-known “UkuleleAnthem,”a defiantly cheerful piece that hadrecently been adopted,she explained,as anunofficial theme song ofthe “Occupy”movement.(She has performed the song at“Occupy Wall Street,”“Occupy Boston”andmost recently,“Occupy San Francisco.”) Shealso performed the bittersweet ballad “DearOld House That I Grew Up In,”a love songto her childhood home,inspired by the newsthat her parents were planning to sell theirhouse.Her other pieces included more con-ventional love songs—though none ofhermusic is what one might call conventional—a number from the musical “Cabaret,”inwhich Palmer performed with the AmericanRepertory Theater last autumn,and thenow-famous “Gaga Palmer Madonna,”origi-nally a song composed for the blogospheredetailing her views on women in contempo-rary music.Gaiman’s set listincluded severalpoems,such as onehe’d written as apresent for Palmer,a beautifullist that read like ElizabethBarrett Browning’s “How do Ilove thee,”updated for the 21stcentury.The cornerstone ofhisperformance,however,was apiece entitled “Forbidden Bridesofthe Faceless Slaves in theSecret House ofthe Night of Dread Desire,”a short story from his anthology “FragileThings.”He described it as a col-laboration with his 20-some-thing-year-old self,a story thathe had written,gotten indiffer-ent reactions to and shelved early in his career,only to come back to it several decades laterand decide that it was worth polishing up forpublication.(He also insisted that he’d short-ened the title;the original was even longer.)It was,Gaiman said,a sort ofreflection onthe place offantasy and science-fiction in theliterary world,and an admonition to writewhat you love,rather than what you are told you should write.They sat down briefly to answer ques-tions from the audience,written out on astack ofneon-colored cue cards.Many ofthequestions revolved around the nature of their relationship (they wed in January),inresponse to which they told some humorousanecdotes and dispensed pithy,accurateadvice,such as “get good at fighting,”to thegreat amusement ofthe audience.Their witand good-natured ribbing kept the conversa-tion cozy throughout,as though they werespeaking to friends as opposed to a theater.Itwas a refreshing change from the rock con-certs Palmer usually plays and the massivecrowds Gaiman’s readings usually draw,anda good time was had by all.
—sarah GUANcontact sarah: email@example.com
november 4 2011
Gaiman and Palmerread, rock and talk
‘Office’ starmuses on work,life and playingBen Affleck
Courtesy MCTCourtesy Crown Archetype