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How Ike Barinholtz went from Windy City to ‘Mindy Project’

BEVERLY HILLS CA - MARCH 08:  Actor Ike Barinholtz actress Mindy Kaling attend Paley Center For Media's PaleyFest 2013

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 08: Actor Ike Barinholtz and actress Mindy Kaling attend the Paley Center For Media's PaleyFest 2013 Honoring "The Mindy Project"at Saban Theatre on March 8, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 163357166

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Updated: May 5, 2013 2:36PM

Chicago-born comic and actor Ike Barinholtz is a writer and — thanks to a promotion earlier this year — a series regular on “The Mindy Project.”

The North Side native also is a die-hard Cub fan.

So would he rather see the Cubs win a World Series or himself win an Emmy?

“Cubs winning the World Series,” Barinholtz answers faster than a line drive to the pitcher’s mound. “I’ve been waiting for that for 35 years. Emmys will be around forever.”

Coincidentally, it was a performance on the ballfield that originally caught Kaling’s attention.

“I’d seen him on ‘Eastbound & Down,’ and he was playing a Russian pitcher and a total jock,” said Kaling, the star and creator of her eponymous freshman comedy about a rom-com-obsessed OB-GYN. “In this show he’s playing a very different kind of character: an earnest nurse who is an ex-con.”

Recently picked up for a second season, “The Mindy Project” is part of Fox’s Tuesday night comedy block. An additional all-new episode airs at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

Barinholtz, 36, describes his character, Morgan, as a male nurse whose heart is bigger than his brain. Kaling wrote the role for the former “MADtv” cast member after hiring him as a writer, along with Barinholtz’s best friend and fellow Latin School of Chicago graduate Dave Stassen.

“I was really attracted to Ike coming onto the show because he’s a writer/performer in a way that I was used to, like B.J. Novak and Paul Lieberstein on ‘The Office,’ ” said Kaling, who played the lovably self-centered Kelly Kapoor on the long-running NBC comedy. She’s scheduled to make a return appearance during that show’s hourlong series finale May 16.

“I can’t say too much about it except that it’s a nice, unexpected reunion with [Novak’s character] Ryan,” she said. “There’s a very satisfying and dramatic ending for the two of them.”

On “The Mindy Project,” Kaling initially made Morgan a recurring character. She bumped up his role in the ensemble earlier this year.

Barinholtz, a former CTA worker who came up through the Chicago improv scene, said he considers Kaling “my Tina Fey.” He said working with the Boston native is “really kind of dreamy.” They can even bond over baseball.

“Red Sox fans and Cub fans truly are simpatico since we’ve had so much suffering for so long,” Barinholtz said. “The only difference is Boston had a great release, whereas Chicago is still very plugged up, at least on the North Side.”

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