Hello Reddit, B.J. Novak here. You can find more information on me here: www.uncollectedstories.com.

I'm talking with you guys today from an undisclosed location in New York City where I am starting my book tour for my new collection of stories, out now, "One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories"

Proof: http://imgur.com/yAYBj4g

Ask Me Anything!

-This has been so much fun, really. Thank you for all your great and even the not-so-great questions- I enjoyed them all.

Comments: 4874 • Responses: 66  • Date: 

bestsunday3544 karma

I have a lot of questions. Number one: how dare you?

iamBJNovak2928 karma

Points for this one.

piso_mojado2665 karma

In high school did John Krasinski stare into the camera and shrug every so often?

iamBJNovak2874 karma

Constantly. We all thought he was crazy. Little did we know!

Gnoozhe1885 karma

Hey Ryan. Big fan. Just left my girlfriend to be with you. Where are you?

iamBJNovak2255 karma

This is a mistake on so many practical and conceptual levels that I don't know where to begin. Get her back.

dinkin_flicka91846 karma

Have you lost your mind? Cause I'll help you find it!

iamBJNovak1655 karma


jamesarthur31624 karma

On the Halloween episode of The Office in season 8 when you were dressed in the beanie and yellow hoodie, were you supposed to be Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad? Never saw this confirmed. Thanks

iamBJNovak1898 karma


Daniellamb1613 karma

Hey Seth!

How does it feel to be on SNL? What is your favorite news segment you've done?


iamBJNovak1808 karma

This is my most common celebrity confusion. I have regularly been complimented for my work on Weekend Update or (back in the day) my John Kerry impression. Big Seth Meyers fan. I ain't mad at it

ElloRingo1320 karma


I loved you on The Office, as both an actor and writer; and you were great in Saving Mr.Banks.

What was your favorite episode that you wrote for The Office?

What do you think happened to Ryan and Kelly after the office documentary was over?

iamBJNovak2475 karma

First - name's not Troy, it's B.J. -- not a big deal.

The episode of "The Office" that I wrote that I'm proudest of is the first one I wrote, "Diversity Day." The show was completely new and I was assigned this amazing comedic opportunity to write what happened in this incredibly rich situation. The only question was, how far were we allowed to go? Not just with the jokes, but with the characters -- with their ignorance, their mistakes, their discomfort? It turned out really far, and learning that helped all of the writers learn that we were going to be able to write the show we wanted to write; and helped the actors learn that they better ground the characters in some real humanity, because they were going to be taken to some pretty raw places.

ajb19901269 karma

What was it like working with Tarantino and the rest of the Basterds cast?

iamBJNovak2498 karma

It was incredible. The most exciting condensed period of my life and I can't imagine I'll ever do anything more exciting and I'm actually fine with that -- I don't know what could top that fantasy-camp of a filmmaking experience. The only stressful part was when we'd all go out drinking after a day on set, and I'd ask Quentin Tarantino a question, and he'd start to answer, and I'd feel this enormous pressure to REMEMBER EVERY SINGLE SYLLABLE because film history was literally being dictated to my brain, and I was the only witness, and I was two drinks in and feared I wasn't going to remember a sentence that a friend or historian would ask me for someday. It was the coolest thing ever, quite simply.

tastybabysoup1260 karma

How did you feel being the last thing people saw before the credits roll in a Tarantino film?

iamBJNovak1938 karma

Fucking awesome.

BusinessPants1143 karma

Will I be too warm in a long-sleeve tee

Real question, how has your life changed because of the office and what was your favorite episode to make?

iamBJNovak1441 karma

Great question. My personal opinion (speaking for myself, not the character of Ryan): You will never be too warm or too cold in a long-sleeve tee. In my opinion it is the perfect item of clothing. Further backstory: this line drove writer/producer Michael Schur crazy because executive producer Greg Daniels refused to clarify whether it was meant to be sarcastic or not. It was a vehemently debated line among the Office writing staff, for some reason.

hipatrothfuss1079 karma

What's Mindy Kaling's deepest darkest secret?

iamBJNovak2481 karma

She shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

mitchconnor921001 karma

Can i still invest in WUPHF?

iamBJNovak1546 karma

Yes, and this is the perfect place to announce that WUPHF has been updated and now links not just to your home phone, cell phone, pager, fax machine, and home phone, but now includes Reddit as well. Wuphf your friends!

helpmefindnemo5857 karma

What is one scene from The Office that, no matter how hard you tried, you/the cast just couldnt get through without laughing? And what was so funny?

iamBJNovak1673 karma

Kevin sitting on Michael's lap in one of the later Christmas episodes. Michael was playing Santa, and Kevin didn't realize he was absolutely crushing Michael while he took his sweet time figuring out what present he wanted to ask Santa for.

Longdukdong11789 karma

Who is the most naturally funny person on The Office?

iamBJNovak1578 karma

David Koechner, who played Todd Packer.

AvalancheGang753 karma

Hey, huge fan of your work on The Office. Who were you closest with on the set of The Office?

iamBJNovak1708 karma

I was closest with Mindy Kaling, and also least close with Mindy Kaling, on a minute-by-minute basis. And I wouldn't trade it for the word. Actually, I would trade it for the world. What am I talking about: I'd trade it for a more consistently positive relationship with Mindy Kaling. She's the best.

Weezilwood736 karma

We have a "Ryan Howard" in my office - he's a freelancer with a similar personality to Ryan and who has a bizarre resemblance to you. Since senior management refuses to get rid of the guy, despite incredibly sub-par work, we're forced to deal with his absolutely asinine personality. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with him?

iamBJNovak1856 karma

Turn a camera on him and surround him with more talented people conveying more likeable and entertaining and occasionally romantic storylines. $$$$$$$$$$$$

adam_kevine630 karma

Do you find it more gratifying playing comedic roles, or serious roles? I saw you perform at Marist College and I thought you were excellent!

iamBJNovak1839 karma

Thank you! One thing I learned from The Office is that the line between funny and dramatic is paper-thin (no pun intended) and often non-existent. If you ground a performance in truth, it can be both as funny and as dramatic as can be. I think no one embodied that lesson better than Steve Carell.

rumplefourskin485 karma

Did you ever submit threat level midnight to film festivals?

iamBJNovak824 karma

That's a great idea. I loved writing Threat Level Midnight and my first draft was like 50 pages. The complete "movie" is on the Season 8 DVD.

Vortegne451 karma

Were you happy about how The Office ended?

How will the film industry change in the future, especially for writers?

iamBJNovak1016 karma

Are you trying to pretend this is a two-part question? These questions are insanely different!

  1. Yes. I think it was a really great final episode, and I love that the final episode acknowledged the impact that the documentary crew had on everyone's lives, and also continued the story with the characters. And on a personal level I loved that Ryan literally ran off into the sunset with Kelly -- but abandoned a baby in order to do so. So funny and dark and happy perfect. Greg Daniels deserves all the credit in the world for wrapping up the series the way he started it out.

  2. We will approach the singularity and the film industry will be entertaining itself with cat videos and pornography expressed in indecipherable extensions of binary code. Writers will be obsolete.

eramel425 karma

Hey B.J. I saw you at the bookstore where I work yesterday and all I could say was "you were on the office, that's amazing". Thanks for the AMA you seem like a genuinely nice guy! My question is how different was it for you to write a book from writing on The Office? Which was more difficult for you?

iamBJNovak749 karma

Hey! Barnes and Noble, right? Hi!

It was actually really similar in the big creative ways: thinking about how to find comedy and surprise and emotion in the unexpected and the everyday.

It was a lot quieter because Mindy wasn't around.

Gjestesofa407 karma

Are you still starting fires?

iamBJNovak1386 karma

I take offense with your implication that I started multiple fires. I started one fire. The episode to which you inferring is called "The Fire," not "A Fire."

Late in the run of the series, when we discussed how it all might end, one of many crazy suggestion we batted around was that Ryan burns Dunder-Mifflin to the ground and it turns out he'd been a pyromaniac the whole time. We were pulling a lot of late nights when that got pitched.

HouseWood396 karma

How did the ladies like your hair when it was frosted tipped for a few seasons in The Office?

iamBJNovak1516 karma

It horrified people. One of my comedy heroes is Bob Odenkirk, who I idolized from Mr. Show. I ran into him & had a twenty minute conversation before I realized I should mention that my hair was for an arc on "The Office." "Oh," he smiled. "I thought you were just a total douchebag actor."

duckflop358 karma

Current Newton South student here. Were you and John Krasinski friends is high school? Did you ever think you guys would be acting together in the future? Thanks so much for coming to the school, had a blast last time you were there!

iamBJNovak1074 karma

We acted together in the Senior Show our senior year. He was incredibly talented and the show was a lot of fun, but no, it never occurred to me that anyone would do anything together after high school. Who ever imagines that?

I sometimes think that if I were to wake up and it turned out The Office was all a dream, the fact that John Krasinski was in it with me would be what I'd realize afterward should have been the obvious tip-off. "Oh! And John Krasinski was in it, too! But they called him Jim! And there was a beet farmer... Whoa, so weird"

M80IW324 karma

Do people call you Beej?

iamBJNovak633 karma

Mindy does.

Silver_Swimmer315 karma

B.J. you're absolutely hilarious in the Office and I loved you in Inglorious Bastards. I'm a big fan, feel very lucky I found this. What's it like working on The Amazing Spiderman 2? What do you think of portraying Smythe?

iamBJNovak418 karma

Very cool, can't say much, Marc Webb is one of the coolest and sharpest directors I have worked with.

Mafark291 karma

What is your typical writing process like?

iamBJNovak1389 karma

9am. Wake up, turn on some music I like, put on a pot of coffee, and sit down to start writing! A few productive hours and then a break for lunch, and then a couple of more hours if possible: sounds like a plan! 9:15am-4:30pm: Read, text, look up stuff on the internet, read, text, look up stuff on the internet, in a trance cycle 4:30pm: Think "Jesus Christ, have I really done NOTHING all day?!? The day is almost fucking over! I am really fucking worthless." 4:30pm-7:30pm: Write like a maniac. 7:30pm: Decide, "okay, at least I got SOMETHING done today. Tomorrow, I'm going wake up early, be at my desk by 9, and really make up for lost time. REPEAT

the_ua283 karma

Would you say your new book is Like Crack?

iamBJNovak403 karma

Great reference. A classic Mindy Kaling-scripted exchange.

himmer99280 karma

When did you know you were famous?

iamBJNovak899 karma

I was the new guy on "Punk'd" before I was on "The Office." I thought that would be my "thing" for the rest of my life- and I was fine with it! I was in Denver the week after Punk'd first aired, to open for the comic Nick Swardson at Comedy Works, and I was sitting in a Starbucks, and a guy walked past the window, stopped, and stared at me, before resuming his walk. Then the next guy did the same thing. Then the next guy. It was the most amazing, strange thing that had ever happened to me. I'll never forget that day.

caesarcreekside279 karma

Who is your favorite comedian? What is your favorite joke?

iamBJNovak961 karma

Mitch Hedberg is my favorite comedian of all-time. I'm not saying he was the best of all time, but he was my favorite.

iamBJNovak727 karma

Right now, I like Dan Mintz, John Mulaney, and Louis CK the best.

rebelrevolt265 karma

If the cast of The Office was suddenly trapped on a desert island, who would be eaten first? What would they taste like?

iamBJNovak1344 karma

Dwight would eat everyone, the first day. Even if there was an abundant food source on the desert island.

imprettyb0red234 karma

Marry, fuck, kill

Mindy Kaling Dr. Mindy Lahiri Kelly Kapoor


iamBJNovak464 karma

Great question.

IMadeYourDrink231 karma

Do you have any scripts or footage of the high school theatre work you and "Jim" did? I'd love to see either.

Thanks for stoping by dude, good luck on your book tour!

iamBJNovak502 karma

Maybe. Do you have a VHS player?

ohsp202 karma

BJ, love the show!

Question Numero Uno: Did you come up with the Creed idea of " If I cant scuba, what's this all about?" Fav Creed moment!

iamBJNovak197 karma

I wish I had. I wasn't in the writers' room when they wrote that line. It blew my mind.

duncanmack27170 karma

So....was he a hobbit or not?

iamBJNovak362 karma

The official name of the character you are referring to is (this is true, you can look it up): Troy L. Underbridge. So, you tell me...

JFrizzo154 karma

Were you in the Think Coffee on Bowery yesterday morning? I'm like 90% sure that was you.

iamBJNovak178 karma


Ludwig_Beethoven141 karma

What is your favorite Beethoven symphony?

iamBJNovak287 karma


gerkology132 karma

If Pfc. Smithson Utivich from Inglorious Bastards and Robert Sherman from Saving Mr Banks were in a movie together. What would that movie be about?

iamBJNovak381 karma

They both served in World War II, so, probably it would be Utivich explaining that they killed Hitler and Robert Sherman saying "What the fuck are you talking about?"

Hyrixoizin129 karma

HOLY SHIT, im actually in time for an AMA for once.

Would just like to say that you were my fav in the office, FIRE GUY!!!

iamBJNovak450 karma

This isn't the best question in the world - in fact, it isn't even a question at all - but congrats on making it here in time, buddy. I know the feeling. It's a good one. Welcome.

jc1435118 karma

Hey B.J. thanks for the AMA. Can you talk a little bit about the challenges or surprises you find when doing voice over work (Smurfs) as opposed to live action?

iamBJNovak637 karma

My role in The Smurfs and Smurfs 2 was essentially to record a handful of different variations of "WhoOOA-ooooA-oaaaA-OA! My muffins!!!" So perhaps I am not the best person to answer this question.

Getitreddit96 karma

Hey B.J.

What's the worst you ever bombed doing stand up or anything comedy related?

iamBJNovak163 karma

Too many to count

prencey91 karma

I live in Newton Corner and you're kind of a legend around here. I mean, after Matt Damon, Louis CK, Matt LeBlanc, John Krasinski, Eli Roth, and John Slattery. Don't worry though, you're DEFINITELY up there!

Anyway, favorite place in Newton to eat?

iamBJNovak116 karma

Don't leave out Jonathan Katz! Newton really does have some great people come out of it. I'd say it's the water but I feel like it's the kind of upscale place that drinks a lot of bottled water. So, something in the Poland Springs, perhaps.

killamstyles88 karma

Do you have any advice for a twenty year old college student, who wants to be a comedy writer in the future?

iamBJNovak252 karma

Depends. What year in the future?

Write for the kid sitting next to you.

ayanalexa75 karma

B.J. No question, sorry. Please tell Mindy Kaling that I loooove her.

iamBJNovak129 karma


MissSolo74 karma

Hey BJ! Just listened to your Nerdist podcast and I feel like Jonah Ray left out his favorite question...what's your perfect Sunday?

Looking forward to your book.

iamBJNovak175 karma

My perfect Sunday, I've learned, is dependent on having the worst, most stressful week. During The Office, during our most miserably long-hour weeks: perfect Sunday was sleeping 12 hours, waking up at noon, Sunday New York Times and a Venti coffee from Starbucks. Anytime I had those two things I was like, wow, I've got all I need. Now that we aren't in that writers room all week, it takes much more to satisfy me, unfortunately; things like human connection, meaning, stuff like that. Things were simpler then.

KittyKittyCat_74 karma

Hello B.J., quick question; what was your inspiration for your book "One More Thing"?

I am super stoked to go out and get it ASAP! (Also, obligatory "I LOVED you in The Office")

iamBJNovak145 karma

Thank you!

The inspiration were all the ideas I had during the years of "The Office" that I never had the opportunity to fit into the show, since they just didn't quite fit Jim and Pam and Dwight and Michael and a paper company, etc. Many of the ideas in the book started with things I thought of in those years, but couldn't responsibly pretend was a good plot for those characters in that situation.

jtwct59 karma

Why do you like writing?

iamBJNovak425 karma

It's like talking but without the immediate regret afterwards

GeneralEccentric55 karma

What was your most memorable experience while in the Harvard Lampoon? I have a family member who was in it and he's told me some of the silly things you all get into.

iamBJNovak147 karma

Those are secret! Tell me who your family member is so I can have him/her killed

domoarigatodrloboto55 karma

Hi B.J.

I think the decision to introduce the documentary crew as a plot point during season 9 of “The Office” was, er, bold, but it did raise some questions. Such as:

  1. Why did the crew decide not to intervene when Stanley had a heart attack or when Michael was planning to accidentally jump to his death off the roof, but then Brian chose to act when the attractive, vulnerable woman was crying?

  2. There is a scene where the staff of the branch turns off the microphones so they won’t be overheard, but then it is revealed that the crew had parabolic mics and could get sound regardless. But if that is the case, why was there no sound when Pam finds out she’s pregnant or when Michael turned off his microphone right before leaving forever?

  3. Speaking of Michael leaving forever, why didn’t a camera crew follow him? They followed Dwight and Andy after they quit, but not the central character of seven years?

cliath190 karma

You know it wasn't a real documentary right?

iamBJNovak294 karma

I know this. You know this. I am not sure Creed knows this.

Yogi_the_duck54 karma


I heard you on KROQ this morning talking with Kevin and Bean about reading your book on stage while you were still in the process of writing it: Can you tell us a little bit more about that experience? I can't wait to pick your book up!

Also, do you like hockey? If so, who's your team?


iamBJNovak92 karma

Talking with Kevin and Bean about reading my book on stage while I was still in the process of writing it was one of the best radio conversations I've ever had on the subject.

Seriously, though: I love Kevin and Bean and I love how much people tell me whenever they hear me on it. It really is an LA institution.

As for your real question: I loved reading the stories onstage during the editing process. I did it once a month at the UCB in LA, and it was terrifying and exhilirating, too.

I wanted the stories to be as funny and entertaining and interesting as possible -- and it's easier to think you're all those things when you're alone in your house than it is reading it in front of people. I'm terrified of boring people with my writing, or of being pretentious or just wasting anyone's time. Standup comedy was the most brutal but effective way of honing material I've ever experienced: if something doesn't work, you KNOW it in your bones. So I figured that if I was serious about this book entertaining people (I know that sounds like a paradox but I was very serious about the quality of the comedy) I should give myself every advantage. The best advantage I had was the ability to get people to come to a theater and see my work in progress, which was something I knew from standup. So, I read the stories. I knew when one wasn't working, and when one was, and why, and when. Audiences can't lie. Polite laughter sounds very different from real laughter, and genuine interest looks really different from fake interest.

Karrizma50 karma

Why do you always look disinterested?

iamBJNovak174 karma

It's just my face! I'm totally interested! I have been battling this my whole life. People think I hate them or don't want to be where I am. I think this should qualify as some sort of super-minor-but-real disability. I feel like when I tell this to people, I find it's much more common than people think.

Stoltz340 karma

What's one thing about yourself that people don't know about you that you wish they did?

iamBJNovak106 karma

I can do one magic trick really well. It involves coins and an old man taught it to me when I was five years old.

Oh_he_steal36 karma

I actually had a dream earlier this week where I met you and told you that your character in Reign Over Me was a dick. So I'm telling you now.

iamBJNovak77 karma

I know

Maldoone2130 karma

I'd like you to write some horror.

iamBJNovak117 karma

I'd like to be in a horror film. I told my agent and he was really surprised but I think I'd be really good. I think if you saw my face on a poster for a horror movie you'd think "ohhhhhhh shiiiiiit" in a good way

tcby1129 karma

Hi B.J., HUGE FAN! I'll be in Austin at your Book People signing. Any chance I could buy you some awesome Austin, TX BBQ afterwards?

iamBJNovak56 karma

Decent chance, yes

gorfnarb27 karma

You said on the nerdist podcast that you want to do work that is meaningful and long-lasting. What are some books and films that have been meaningful to you in your career?

iamBJNovak64 karma

I answered books a moment ago, so, films:

Taxi Driver. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The King of Comedy. Pulp Fiction. The Naked Gun. Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Adaptation.

videoreditor27 karma

I know there are a lot of us. And I know it's a bit overwhelming. But I hope this question reaches you.

Big fan of everything you're involved in. Especially Inglorious Basterds.

Do you have any aspirations to direct a film?

iamBJNovak64 karma

I'd love to direct, but I think only things I write.

I consider myself a writer first.

I wrote and directed my book trailer a few weeks ago and loved the experience. It definitely made me want to direct more.


jlopez909021 karma

Top post in one hour. I must see what's going on in here

iamBJNovak46 karma

welcome to the party, pal

engi_nerd19 karma

What is your favorite book?

iamBJNovak56 karma

  1. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov. 2. Sabbath's Theater, by Philip Roth. 3. Candy, by Terry Southern & Mason Hoffenberg. 4. Mating, by Norman Rush.

iamBJNovak46 karma

Favorite books of the past year or so: Tenth of December, by George Saunders; Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.

roheet18 karma

What do you think of Ryan overall?

iamBJNovak35 karma

Poor guy.

bengalwarrior4414 karma

Hey B.J. Loved both your writing and acting in The Office, haven't followed any of your other work but I don't watch too much TV, so take it as a compliment ;)

Question is, who was your favorite character in The Office, from a writer's perspective?

iamBJNovak93 karma

I don't understand why you felt it necessary to include the part about not having followed any of my other work since your question was about The Office and is a perfectly reasonable one, but, here goes:

My favorite character to write for was quite simply Michael Scott. Steve brought such humanity to the role that you could write him to these incredible extremes and he would play them in the most believable ways. Also, he had these beautiful blind spots to his logic that were inimitable. He was almost brilliant in the ways he could be foolish: he walked this incredible blurred line between the two.

I feel that lead characters are occasionally overlooked or taken for granted by the most devoted fans of a show. (With the best intentions, but still!) I loved the Sopranos and my favorite character was Tony Soprano. I love The Simpsons and my favorite character is Homer Simpson.

My favorite supporting character to write for on The Office was Toby.

poisondonut9 karma

Hey B.J, what was best prank that was pulled on you or by you ? Either on set or just in your life. Thanks for doing this little man!

iamBJNovak19 karma

I am extremely proud of a prank I pulled at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston when I was 17 with my good friend Peter Nelson. I told the story on Letterman last week. I think the clip of that is on YouTube.

boxofkangaroos8 karma

BJ, what's your favorite type of soup?

iamBJNovak31 karma


SgtVeritas5 karma

Starting a book tour from an undisclosed location, huh? Sounds like you need a new manger.

No question here... just wanted to tell you how under-appreciated your work has been and how much I appreciate the laughs you have brought.

iamBJNovak14 karma

I love this typo: what if I was, indeed, doing this from a manger. God complex, much?!?!?!?!?

Thank you for your compliment. Very appreciated.