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In The Limelight: Mindy Kaling

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 10th 2006 7:16PM
Mindy Kaling of The OfficeOne of the more obvious differences between the American and British versions of The Office is that the "background" characters, who were mosly silent in the British version, have started to develop personalities themselves, to the point where their portrayers are now considered to be full cast members. This is something that Greg Daniels and the writers of the show -- many of whom are some of those newly-minted cast members -- needed to do; faced with an open-ended set of 22-episode seasons, other characters besides the main five had to be developed, giving the writers more room to explore the Dunder-Mifflin world.

One of the office drones that is developing rapidly is Kelly, played by Mindy Kaling. Until a couple of episodes ago, all we knew about her was that she was the one around whom Michael would make inappropriate Indian jokes. But we're finding a lot more about Kelly in short order; first of all, she's chatty, extremely chatty, as Jim has been finding out. She also really digs Ryan, who is the most permanent temp in history. We also know that she's a little mischevious, as we found out when she innocently asked Michael's boss Jan about what the term "second base" meant, right before winking to the camera.

Kaling also had a memorable performance as Amy, the girl that Paul Rudd's character, David, inappropriately pines for throughout The 40 Year-Old Virgin. She's just in one scene, but her angry response to David's sappiness is extremely funny.

So, where did Kaling come from? Off-Broadway, that's where. In 2002, she and Brenda Withers wrote and starred in the play Matt and Ben, a comedy that imagined the tension that occured when Ben Affleck and Matt Damon wrote Good Will Hunting (the play imagines the script fell from the sky; can you think of a better way to explain it?). She was raised in Cambridge, MA, and graduated from Darmouth in 2001 with a playwriting degree, so she's had some top-notch training (she has also written two Office episodes: "The Dundies" and "Hot Girl"). And for further proof that Mindy has a sense of humor, she worked as a production assistant on Crossing Over with John Edward.

It looks like Mindy has a heck of a future in front of her. But where will it be: as an actor or as a writer? I see her running and starring in her own sitcom sometime in the near future. Why not, right? After being surrounded by the talent in The Office, she'll be all set.

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Great write-up! I have absolutely no qualms about admitting that I have a terrible TV-crush on Mindy Kaling. In addition to being cuter than a bug's ear, she's very, very funny. Rising star, indeed!

April 08 2006 at 6:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
christopher boffoli

I was lucky enough to catch Mindy in her play Matt & Ben and I was really impressed by her comic timing. I have not yet seen her in The Office but I'm really happy for her success. While she was at Dartmouth she wrote this really brilliant comic strip called "Badly Drawn Girl" which was the most clever, biting, entertaining social commntary on the culture of daily Dartmouth life to ever come down the pike. That woman deserves all of the accolades she gets.

February 19 2006 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Shes alright, if you dont mind alittle junk in.... :P

February 12 2006 at 3:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

on Thursday's episode, Mindy was given Story Editor credit.

February 11 2006 at 8:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Very nice spotlight Joel. I didn't know the bit about her working as a production assistant on Crossing Over. If you are looking for a show for her to take off on her own though, that could be the basis. Struggling Dartmouth trained palywrite by night, making ends meet in the big city by selling little chunks of her soul working on complete schlock. Can I go ahead and cast Bruce Campbell as the Jonathan Edwards character? If that doesn't work for you, Jason Bateman needs a gig.

February 11 2006 at 1:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Crap Joel! You know... I must have been very sleepy. I didn't even see the story jump. Duh! Thanks for pointing that out.

February 11 2006 at 9:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"(the play imagines the script fell from the sky; can you think of a better way to explain it?)"

Well, that script is pretty lame-ass isn't it, so I can believe Matt and Ben wrote it themselves. :)

Also: all my love to Kelly etc.

February 11 2006 at 7:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Damn, I didn't know she actually wrote entire episodes of the funniest show on TV.

FYI, in the scene you mentioned where she winks at the camera, she does it with the wrong eye (the eye facing Jan)

February 11 2006 at 5:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She also wrote "The Injury" episode of The Office.

February 11 2006 at 2:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joel Keller

Rachel, did you read beyond the first part of the post (I would imagine if you took the time to comment, you did)? I mentioned Mindy's role in "Virgin".

February 11 2006 at 12:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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