Today’s post is from one of my newest and funniest blogging friends, Amber Salhus. She had me at, “How to Order Taco Bell,” and then sealed my devoted fan status for good with her GIF game. Which is on point. Amber is hilarious but also thoughtful. Please welcome her to the blog today!
Some people choose to read self help books to learn how to rule at life.
I prefer to read books by funny women for the same reason.
Tina Fey’s book taught me not to waste time trying to charm the uninterested, to stay true to my own voice, and that it’s okay to be both funny and thoughtful at the same time. She also taught me not to talk through the gap in the door to the person one stall over in the bathroom because it’s just poor manners.
Amy Poehler’s book taught me to just say Yes already. To say yes to the scary, new, and wildly unexpected opportunities that come my way- and to remember to have fun with them. Because no one looks stupid while they’re having fun.
Amy Schumer’s book taught me that having a tender heart and being funny often go hand in hand out of necessity. Because sometimes you see what’s unbearably true about the world and you have to laugh about it so you don’t cry. The chapter in her book about her father pooping his pants in the middle of an airport because MS was slowly robbing him of control over his body broke my heart and had me rolling at the same time.
But out of all the women in the Funny Girl’s Club, I would have to say I’ve learned the most from Mindy Kaling.
Here’s what I love about Mindy: She writes as if she’s talking to her closest and funniest friend. She never writes down to her reader, which is a common trap for comedians. Instead she writes to you as if you’re someone whom she genuinely wants to impress. She makes you feel invited into the club, all while maintaining relatablity and confessing to her own need to be invited in.
And of course, as any close friend would do, she tells her secrets and doles out advice with the perfect mix of confidence and self-deprecation.
Mindy’s books taught me that humility and gumption are equally important.
She pokes fun at herself and the industry, while bringing both depth and sharp humor to comedy that would otherwise feel vapid and depressing.
In one chapter she’s confessing that the reason everyone in Hollywood looks so great all the time (herself included) is because they wear fake hair and nude colored bodysuits under literally everything, and in the next chapter she’s sharing all the hard work, the failures, and the personal embarrassments that eventually got her to this place.
During an interview for Off Camara with Sam Jones while discussing her early years as a comedy writer for the popular show “The Office”, Jones comments that it seems as if she’s “made her own success”. She responds with, “Yah, but it was also such a heartbreaking time. I had just been rejected to play my own self in a TV pilot and The Office was universally hated by critics the first season. It seemed like everything I did was failing.”
Yet she put her head down and kept working hard.
She taught me that you’ve got to know when to laugh at yourself and when to take yourself seriously.
She unapologetically believed in herself and what she could contribute. I dig that so much. She took a few hits, she had a few cringe-worthy moments, and yes, success did eventually come, but it wouldn’t have if she’d indulged in her own insecurities.
Lastly, Mindy taught me that when it comes to creative work, you can go your own way.
It’s okay to be weird and off beat and to chase the fun because it just might lead to opportunity. (And you know what they say about opportunity: it leads to more opportunity).
Mindy’s first big break came right after college when she and her roommate wrote and scripted an entire play in which they pretend to be two dudes. But not just any two dudes. They were Matt & Ben. As in, Damon and Affleck.
Matt & Ben get home from the gym. Matt & Ben go to the grocery store. Matt & Ben recieve a brilliant manuscript as it drops from heaven.
What started as a fun and quirky inside joke that always got a laugh out of her roommate became a real play that somehow connected with people, and eventually led to her first writing job in Hollywood.
When she signed up for Twitter in 2008, and discovered that after a few years of writing for television she actually loved writing in her own voice- and that other people loved it too, she got the idea for her first memoir.
It was after watching Comedy Central for hours as a teenager while she did her homework that she realized she loved comedy and wanted to write it.
She had an obsessive eye for what she loved and she unabashedly chased that down.
It’s okay if your path towards your dream doesn’t look like anyone else’s or even how you think it should. It’s okay if it’s wonky and unexpected and even feels foolish at times.
What if Mindy had the idea for the Matt & Ben play and then decided it was too ridiculous? She might not have gotten the opportunity to write for the Office and then create her own show and then write two books and my God in heaven, what if we never even got to know how rad she is?
Don’t squash your own radness, friends. Chase it down.
Amber Salhus is a wife, a mom to two tiny tenders, a writer, comedy lover, and movie buff. She writes over at http://ambersalhus.com (Did I Shave My Legs For This?) where she is all about keeping it real, telling the honest truth, and finding have humor in all of it. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.