Thursday, July 4, 2019

"Mindy Kaling Can Do Everything But 'The Thing"

Watching her film Late Night, Mindy Kaling brought to mind ballplayer Kirk Gibson.

A comparison you may have heard mentioned before.  Or perhaps not.

Kirk Gibson was a formidable outfielder, who, capping many noteworthy achievements, limped out of the clubhouse on knees believed to be too battered to play on, and cracked a startling playoff home run for the Dodgers, the team, inspired by that miracle, proceeding to World Series victory in 1981.

“What’s that got to do with Mindy Kaling?”

Be patient, and I’ll tell you. 

“Okay.  But we haven’t got all day.”


“And it better be worth it.”

But “No pressure”, right?

Okay, here’s the connection.

During his career, Kirk Gibson was a baseball player who played baseball like he was a football player.

What does that mean?

It means he was ferocious in a game highlighting relaxed concentration, elegant gracefulness and finesse.  (At least compared to football.)  Kirk Gibson, built like a “granite-with-legs” linebacker, outmuscled the opposition, treating the “National Pastime” like “battlefield combat”, demonstrating, as in 1981, that he would also selflessly “play hurt.”  

So there you have it.  Kirk Gibson played baseball like he was football player.

Similarly argued in this venue –

Mindy Kaling “does” show biz like she’s a doctor.

It’s amazing.  I can hear everyone going,

“He’s right.”

For the baffled minority out there, wondering, “What the heck is he talking about?” –

Let me explain.

How does Mindy Kaling “do” show biz like she’s a doctor?

It’s is entirely the attitude.

An actor, denting our consciousness as a featured player on The Office, blossoms into writing, directing, producing and starring in TV series and major motion pictures.  That’s an unusual trajectory.  Ask (INSERT NAME OF FORMER “SUPPORTING ACTOR” IN A SITCOM WHO PROCEEDED TO RUN A CAR DEALERSHIP IN PACOIMA HERE.)

How does she accomplish this remarkable feat?

Like an M.D, never asking, “Can I do this?” or “Do I belong here?” Kaling builds her career with an innate confident certainty.  Her memoir – her second, at age 40 – is appropriately entitled, “Why Not Me?”  (Al Franken wrote a book with the same name, but that was facetious.)

There is only one problem, reflected conspicuously in Late Show.

The confident certainty is palpable.

Less so, the accompanying know-how.

Speaking from a professional – though admittedly subjective – perspective, Late Night’s conception and screenplay are not sufficiently thought through, a viable movie idea, faltering in the areas of logic and consistency. 

(Here is a talk-show host, insisting on Doris Kearns Goodwin as a guest, performing monologue jokes about dive-bombing owls.  Who is this person?)

When the requisite “infrastructure” is missing, there’s an inevitable flattening of the “funny.”   

An “I can do anything” spirit is admirable.  (I wish I had some.)  But it takes the entire “package” to ably pull of the job.

Kirk Gibson slammed a breathtaking home run in the bottom of the ninth.

Kaling’s Late Night, with the game on the line:

A weak dribbler, back to the pitcher.
I am putting the flag in the front garden.  More in hope than in celebration.  Happy Fourth of July.  A better things in our national future.


cjdahl60 said...

Small correction, which I only provide because the Kirk Gibson home run was so painful for me.

Kirk Gibson's game winning home run in the World Series was in 1988, not 1981. I remember vividly because I lived in the Bay Area then and my Oakland A's had their strongest team since the early 1970's. The 70's team won three World Series from 1972-1974 (including beating the Dodgers in 1974).

In the late 80's, the A's went to three straight World Series from 1988-1990 and only won once. Kirk Gibson and the Dodgers upset them in 1988, they beat the hated cross-bay rival San Francisco Giants in an earthquake delayed World Series in 1989 and then they lost in 1990 to the Cincinnati Reds. After that, it was years of wandering in the desert.

I've lived in Seattle for the last 20 or so years and the curse of my baseball fanhood continues here with the Mariners. The M's currently have the longest playoff drought of any team in the four major US sports (baseball, football, basketball and hockey) at 17 years and counting.

Thanks for the blog, Earl. Read it every day and enjoy it very much.

Pat said...

Somehow, you hit on 2 public personalities that burn me up! To me, Mindy is not the least bit funny, and that's all I have to say about that.

Was going to rail against Gibson, which I could do all day, until I remembered a Sports Illustrated piece I read a year or so ago...and here it is, well worth the time it takes to read it.

Personality-wise, I found Gibson to be even worse than Dave Kingman, and he was a giant douche. But Gibson was a misanthrope propelled with an unmatched fury. His turnaround is amazing.

And yet, Karma wins again.

Dave said...

Happy Birthday to my country and all my fellow residents!