As a performer — and even, sometimes, a persona — Mindy Kaling vibrates with an almost unseemly self-confidence, an implacable self-satisfaction that is the raw material she manipulates for laughs. Kelly Kapoor, the pop culture-obsessed character Kaling has played for the past eight seasons of “The Office” (while Kaling also wrote for the show), is an incompetent, unembarrassable ditz immune to the judgment of others. She steadfastly believes she knows better than everyone else, even as the evidence mounts against her — in fact, there seems to be no amount of evidence that would rattle her core self-love, which is what’s so funny about her. Asking for a promotion, even though all of her managerial experience involves managing herself, Kelly proffers deadpan, “I am not easy to manage.”
On the confident, acerbic new sitcom “The Mindy Project” — it premieres Tuesday night on Fox, and is easily the best freshman comedy of the season — Kaling (who also created the show) stars as Mindy Lahiri, a 31-year-old OB-GYN. Lahari is not such a fool as Kelly, but she radiates a similarly innate self-regard.