B.J. Novak's Reddit AMA: 'The Office,' Mindy Kaling, 'Inglorious Basterds' and more
You can read the entire, lengthy AMA on Reddit, or you can check out some of the best answers here.
Random 'Office' trivia
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?
Turn a camera on him and surround him with more talented people conveying more likeable and entertaining and occasionally romantic storylines. $$$$$$$$$$$$
Who were you closest with on the set of "The Office"?
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.
Who is the most naturally funny person on "The Office"?
David Koechner, who played Todd Packer.
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?
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.
What was your favorite episode that you wrote for "The Office"?
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.
Were you happy about how "The Office" ended?
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.
If the cast of "The Office" was suddenly trapped on a desert island, who would be eaten first? What would they taste like?
Dwight would eat everyone, the first day. Even if there was an abundant food source on the desert island.
B.J. Novak and John Krasinski went to high school together
In high school did John Krasinski stare into the camera and shrug every so often?
Constantly. We all thought he was crazy. Little did we know!
Were you and John Krasinski friends in 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!
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"
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
What's Mindy Kaling's deepest darkest secret?
She shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.
How did you feel being the last thing people saw before the credits roll in a Tarantino film?
When did you know you were famous?
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.
Seth: How does it feel to be on "SNL"? What is your favorite news segment you've done?
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.
What is your typical writing process like?
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 f***ing over! I am really f***ing 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
Why do you always look disinterested?
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.