The Exact Level of Fame I Want - I Love New York and It Likes Me Okay - Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) - Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) - Mindy Kaling (2011)

I Love New York and It Likes Me Okay

The Exact Level of Fame I Want

IOBVIOUSLY WANT to be super famous and for everyone to love me. That’s why I got into this racket. It helps that I love writing jokes, but let’s face it, that was just the means to an end.

Oftentimes when I’m in the writers’ room at The Office, and it’s 11:00 p.m., the script we’re rewriting is halted because we’re all waiting for our boss to approve an outfit for the character Pam that shoots the following day, and my mind wanders. First I wonder if I will ever get the opportunity to live in a tree house like the one in the Swiss Family Robinson house at Disneyland, where we’d have a giant seashell for a sink. After I realize that, no, that will never happen, I think about the exact amount of fame I want.

To me, the person with the best fame is Conan O’Brien. When I interned at Late Night, I thought, Wow, this is the guy who has totally nailed being famous. Nobody cared what he wore (some kind of dark-colored suit), his hair was famously always the same, and he got to sit at the same desk every episode. Clearly he was a hardworking genius, but he was the only famous person I saw who was always being himself. Everyone else had to be someone else. Conan did strange little comedy bits that were completely his style, interviewed celebrities who were much more dressed up than he was, and even got to do cooking demonstrations. (When I interned there, I noticed he never ate the food during commercial breaks. I don’t understand that level of discipline.)

I didn’t want to be Regis or Kathie Lee, because their chairs were too high. I’m sorry, I’m supposed to sit like that for an hour? Too much blood rushing to my ankles. No, thanks.

Once I saw Paris Hilton leaving a restaurant in Hollywood and the paparazzi cameras were all over her. It looked so unpleasant. It wasn’t because she didn’t look sensational—she was that perfect combination of fashionable and slutty—it was because the paparazzi guys were shouting these insanely rude and intrusive questions at her. Like, asking her who she was sleeping with and stuff. I was kind of interested in the answer, so I was glad they asked, but it was still gross.

But then, behind Paris, I saw Sacha Baron Cohen quietly exit the restaurant completely unnoticed, walk up to the valet, get in his car, and drive away. Can you believe that? I mean, it’s Sacha Baron Fuckin’ Cohen! (Wasn’t sure where to put the fuckin’ in there, but I think I chose right.) None of the paparazzi had any idea who he was, but he was also, like Conan, one of the most respected living comedy icons in the world. And I thought, Man, I want to be that famous.

Here are some more ways I’d love to be famous (I am required to declare that these ideas are technically owned by NBC-Universal, because I imagined them while on their payroll).

I NEVER HAVE TO WAIT IN LINE FOR BRUNCH

Like everyone normal, I would never have a bumper sticker, ever. However, if I saw one that read, “Hell Is Waiting in Line for Brunch,” I might buy a thousand and plaster my car with them. I’d like to be so famous that if I want to lazily eat out on a Sunday afternoon, someone whisks me past a long line of poor slobs waiting in the sun and to a private table.

I GET TO SEE THE LAKERS ALL THE TIME

Look, I don’t need to have Jack Nicholson seats or whatever—honestly, who needs to live in constant peril of a sweaty 7-foot-tall, 240-pound guy falling on you?—but I’d love to be so famous that people who do have amazing tickets would be psyched to have me come with them. I just want to sit close enough so that I can ask the Laker Girls questions about their makeup regimens.

TEENAGERS IDOLIZE MY “LOOK”

I was at Benefit Cosmetics picking up some lip glosses and trying to scam some free samples one Saturday a few months ago. While I was there, I saw two adorable ninth-grade girls getting makeovers for their semiformal, which was that night. They both had torn-out reference pictures of Emma Watson. When I was their age, I had done the same with pictures of Meg Ryan. I was obsessed with her edgy shag from the otherwise forgettable movie Addicted to Love. The edgy shag did not suit my face. If you must know, it made me look like a touring 1980’s road comic. A male one.

Copying a celebrity’s hairstyle is some enviable adoration right there. Since I don’t think anyone will ever want my haircut, it’d have to be something else. Maybe kids would want my perfectly hairless forearms.

IF I SUPPORT A CAUSE, I CAN ACTUALLY HELP IT

Sean Penn, like, lives in Haiti, right? That’s too much. I can’t do that. That’s some hard-core goodness right there. But I’d love to make an enormous impact by being the vocal spokesperson for a cause, somewhere on the level of Mary Tyler Moore ending horse carriage rides in Central Park.

THE FASHION POLICE SLAUGHTER ME, CONSTANTLY, AND I DON’T CARE

There’s a certain badass-ness to someone like Helena Bonham Carter, who just doesn’t give a crap about what the Fashion Police say. And when I say the Fashion Police, of course I’m speaking of the small group of screeching gay guys and fashion “experts” on that E! show led by the reanimated corpse of Joan Rivers. Joan, actually, is still pretty great. One Emmy Awards show a few years ago, she said my dress made me look like I was going to the prom from hell. It traumatized my entire week, but even I had to admit that it was a funny thing to say. The point is, it only traumatized me because I had the time to be traumatized. I want to be so famous and busy that I only ever find these insults amusing, and chuckle at them good-naturedly before I get on my private jet to be a UN ambassador to Cameroon, or wherever.

BATSHIT STUFF I WEAR IS IMMEDIATELY CONSIDERED FASHIONABLE

Kind of related to what I’ve just said. I want to rock harem pants or black lipstick like Gwen Stefani does and have people be like, “That’s just Mindy,” and then everyone starts doing it.

WHEN I GET OLD, I’M A SIGHT GAG FOR TV SHOWS

I want to be so famous that people put me in their TV shows as the desiccated old broad who gets big laughs simply because no one has ever seen such an old bag of bones recite memorized lines, and because the sight of me brings up warm, nostalgic memories of their youth. Future hipsters will love me ironically.

I CAN NEVER GO TO JAIL

It’d be great to be so famous that if I murder someone, I will never, ever, ever serve any jail time, even if it’s totally obvious to everyone that I did it.

I HAVE TO HAVE A PSEUDONYM

I read that Michael Jackson used to have prescriptions for Demerol under the alias Jack London. So much about Michael Jackson’s life was tragic and strange, but that detail is just so cool. I like thinking that Michael Jackson was like, “Let’s see, let’s see. Who do I want to commemorate in my request for drugs? You know what? I always did love White Fang. Jack London it is.” My alias for hotels and stuff would be Gwendolyn Trundlebed, a nonsense name I’ve always loved that my friend Mike Schur came up with during the third season of The Office.

MY STAND-IN GETS PLASTIC SURGERY TO LOOK MORE LIKE ME

In movies, actors will sometimes have a stand-in. The stand-in is an actor who is hired to stand in the place of another actor for lighting purposes, so the first actor can take a nap or go do drugs in his trailer. I worked on a movie once where the lead actor (a very famous actor whom I’ll call Tony Dash) traveled with his personal stand-in. They were best friends. It is already weird to be best friends with someone who looks like you, but the absolute weirdest part was that the stand-in had gotten extensive facial plastic surgery to look more like Tony. I think he did it so that Tony would never, ever think of hiring anyone else to be his stand-in, and he’d have job security for the rest of his life. He looked like the half-melted version of this famous actor. It was horrifying and titillating at the same time. It just showed so much power. I want there to be some slightly grotesque version of me following me around on sets all over the world, and we hang out and vacation together.

KENAN THOMPSON PLAYS ME ON SNL

I can’t tell whether I would hate this or love this so much. There are arguments for both. I’ll say love it, for now.