Comic holiday relief: Why Christmas is a really big deal

Mindy Kaling Dec 21, 2011

Kai Ryssdal: There are certain things we’ve all come to expect during the month of December: deep discounts, “Deck the Halls” playing on a loop at the mall, seasonally-themed coffee drinks (peppermint half-caf soy latte anyone?), and of course, the Christmas episode of your favorite television show.

Being a radio program about business and the economy, we checked in with a writer and actress who helps bring just such a show to your living room. Here’s Mindy Kaling from “The Office” on NBC.

Mindy Kaling: Christmas was always a really big deal in my family, even though we’re all Hindus. But I think the reason why it was such a big deal is that it was kind of new for my parents, too. We just took it for granted that my parents knew how to do everything because they were our parents and we admired them so much.

I’m blessed because I’m one of these people that has those crazy hours you read about sometimes as investment bankers — they’re working like 60, 70 hours. I have that for my job, but my job — you described my job as a comedy writer and an actor on a comedy show — it’s the closest to probably what pure fun would also just be described as, which is hanging around a bunch of people around my age playing make believe.

I wrote this year’s Christmas episode as well as the past two years’ Christmas episodes. There might be something about my personality where I’m a little bit sentimental. I love Christmas carols and I do love romance, and those tend to be central parts of the Christmas episodes and they tend to be, by nature, have to be like a feel-good episode. But it’s weird because I work with a lot of Jewish comedy writers and I’m Hindu, so there’s not one of us that’s more qualified to write a Christmas episode. We’re all kind of equally not qualified. But I love writing them.

I think in “Classy Christmas,” which was last year’s episode — that episode had an incredibly violent snowball fight between Dwight and Jim, which I loved.

And it was one of the only storylines where Dwight kind of wins in their spy-versus-spy dynamic. And my mom’s a huge fan of Dwight, who always wants Dwight to beat Jim. Which is really weird because that’s not how most people watching the show, that’s not the narrative that they want to see happen. I was very happy to write that because my mom really liked that.

Ryssdal: Mindy Kaling is the co-executive producer of “The Office.” Her new book is called “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” You can read an excerpt of the book — click here (PDF).

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