B. J. Novak

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B. J. Novak
B.J. Novak, Actor.jpg
Novak at SF Sketch Fest 2008
Alma materHarvard University
  • Actor
  • writer
  • comedian
  • director
Years active2001–present

B. J. Novak is an American actor, writer, comedian, producer and director. Novak was one of the writers and executive producers of The Office (2005–2013), in which he also played Ryan Howard.

Early life[edit]

Novak was born and raised in Newton, Massachusetts. His parents are Linda (née Manaly) and author William Novak.[1][2][3] Novak's family is Jewish. His father co-edited The Big Book of Jewish Humor, and has ghostwritten memoirs for Nancy Reagan, Lee Iacocca, Magic Johnson, and others; his parents also established a Jewish matchmaking service.[4][5] Novak has two younger brothers, Jesse, a composer, and Lev. He attended Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston for elementary school and middle school.[6]

He attended Newton South High School with future Office costar John Krasinski,[7] and they graduated in 1997.[7] Novak graduated from Harvard University in 2001, where he was a member of the Harvard Lampoon and the Hasty Pudding Club. He majored in English and Spanish literature, and wrote his honors thesis on the films of Shakespeare's Hamlet.[8]

Aside from the Lampoon, he occasionally staged and performed in a variety show called The B.J. Show with fellow Harvard student B. J. Averell.[7]


Following his graduation from Harvard, he moved to Los Angeles, California and began working in clubs as a comedian. His first live stand-up performance took place at the Hollywood Youth Hostel on October 10, 2001.[citation needed] He was named one of Variety's "Ten Comedians To Watch" in 2003.[9]

Novak was a writer for the short-lived The WB sitcom Raising Dad.[7] He performed on Comedy Central's Premium Blend and on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.[8][9]

Novak's television acting career began on MTV's Punk'd.[7] He was the lead accomplice to Ashton Kutcher on the show's second season in 2003, playing pranks on Hilary Duff, Rachael Leigh Cook, Usher, and Mýa.[citation needed]

Novak in June 2007

The Office[edit]

After hearing Novak's opening joke at a comedy club, executive producer Greg Daniels decided he "wanted to do something with him";[7] Novak was subsequently cast as Ryan Howard.

On July 21, 2010, news reports indicated Novak had signed a contract to remain with the show for its seventh and eighth seasons; under the new terms, he would be made an executive producer midway through Season 7 and direct two episodes of the show. In a June 2009 interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Novak spoke about sharing the success of The Office with his Newton South High School classmate John Krasinski:[10]

"Sometimes when this feels too good to be true, I think that if this were all a dream, that would be what should have tipped me off. I'd wake up saying, "I was in this incredible TV show and it was a big hit and the star was John [Krasinski] from high school. Isn't that weird?"

Film career[edit]

In addition to his television credits, Novak has appeared in the films Unaccompanied Minors, Reign Over Me, The Internship, Knocked Up, The Smurfs and Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.[11] He played composer Robert B. Sherman in Saving Mr. Banks (2013), and Alistair Smythe in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014).[8] He had a supporting role in the 2016 film The Founder, which features Michael Keaton in the biopic's leading role of Ray Kroc.

Novak in September 2013

Book deal[edit]

On April 11, 2013, publishing house Alfred A. Knopf announced it had signed a seven-figure, two-book deal with Novak, with the first book slated to be a fictional collection of Woody Allen-like stories.[12]

On February 4, 2014 a book of 22 stories, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, was published and spent 6 weeks on the NYT Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers List.[13] Novak also signed a deal with Penguin's children's books label and wrote the title The Book With No Pictures, which was released in September 2014 and has spent two full years and counting on the New York Times Picture Books list, with 34 of those weeks charting the book as the #1 seller in the country.[14]

In May 2015, it was announced that Novak and Mindy Kaling had signed a book deal worth a reported $7.5 million to write about their long friendship and former relationship, though Kaling said in an interview that the book would "not be a tell-all."

The List App[edit]

On October 14, 2015 Novak released an Apple iOS app along with co-founder Dev Flaherty called The List App.[15] The app has since been nominated for a Webby Award (losing in its category to Beme and Pocket) and in May 2016 rebranded as 'li.st' and became available on the Android platform.[16]

In September 2017, the app was shut down, citing that the growth wasn't enough to sustain the current product.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Novak has a close friendship with Mindy Kaling, whom he met through writing for The Office. The two dated on and off while writing and acting on the show, sometimes mirroring the on-again, off-again nature of the relationship between their respective characters Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor.[18] He served as a consulting producer for Season 1 of The Mindy Project,[19] and has appeared on the show several times, though his formal producing role ended after the first season.[20]

His brother Jesse composed the music for The Mindy Project and BoJack Horseman.[8]



  • Novak, B. J. (2014). The book with no pictures.
  • — (2014). One more thing : stories and other stories.
  • Novak, B. J. (2017). The alphabet book with no pictures.

Essays, reporting and other contributions[edit]


Roles as an actor
Year Title Role Notes
2003 Punk'd Field Agent Television series
2005–2013 The Office Ryan Howard Television series; 164 Episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2006, 2007)
Nominated: Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2008)
Nominated: Prism Award for Best performance in a Comedy Series (2009)
2006 Unaccompanied Minors Flight Attendant
2007 Reign Over Me Mr. Fallon
Knocked Up Unnamed Doctor
2009 Inglourious Basterds Pfc. Smithson Utivich Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2011 The Smurfs Baker Smurf
2012 The Dictator Uncredited
2013 The Mindy Project Jamie Television series
4 episodes
2013 The Internship Male Interviewer
2013 Saving Mr. Banks Robert B. Sherman
2013 The Smurfs 2 Baker Smurf
2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Alistair Smythe
2014 Community Mr. Egypt Episode: "Basic Sandwich" (cameo)
2014 The Newsroom Lucas Pruit Television series
4 episodes
2015 Arthur MC Episode: "The Last Day" (voice)
2016 The Founder Harry J. Sonneborn
2016-2018 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Himself Episodes: "Josh and I Go to Los Angeles" (cameo), "Oh, Nathaniel, It's On!" (cameo)
Roles as a writer
Year Title Notes
2001–2002 Raising Dad 2 episodes
2005–2012 The Office Episodes written:
  1. "Diversity Day" (March 29, 2005) - Season 1
  2. "Sexual Harassment" (September 27, 2005) - Season 2
  3. "The Fire" (October 11, 2005) - Season 2
  4. "Boys and Girls" (February 2, 2006) - Season 2
  5. "Initiation" (October 19, 2006) - Season 3
  6. "Safety Training" (April 12, 2007) - Season 3
  7. "Local Ad" (October 25, 2007) - Season 4
  8. "Chair Model" (April 17, 2008) - Season 4
  9. "Prince Family Paper" (January 22, 2009) - Season 5
  10. "Dream Team" (April 9, 2009) - Season 5
  11. "Happy Hour" (March 25, 2010) - Season 6
  12. "Counseling" (September 30, 2010) - Season 7
  13. "Threat Level Midnight" (February 17, 2011) - Season 7
  14. "The List" (September 22, 2011) - Season 8
  15. "Free Family Portrait Studio" (May 10, 2012) - Season 8

Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy Series (2006)
Nominated: Writers Guild of America Award for a Comedy Series (2005, 2007, 2008)
Nominated: Writers Guild of America Award for a New Series (2005)
Nominated: Writers Guild of America Award for an Episodic Comedy (2005, 2007)

2013 The Mindy Project 1 episode
Roles as a director
Year Title Notes
2009 The OfficeBlackmail webisode series 4 episodes
2009 The Office – "Scott's Tots" aired 12/03/09
2011 The Office - "The Seminar" aired 01/27/11
The Office - "The List" aired 09/22/11
2012 The Office – "Trivia" aired 01/12/12
2013 The Mindy Project – "Mindy's Minute" aired 02/19/13
2013 The Mindy Project - "Santa Fe" aired 04/09/13

Awards and nominations[edit]

List of awards and nominations
Year Group Award Work Result
2005 Writers Guild of America Awards New Series The Office Nominated
Episodic Comedy - for episode "Diversity Day" Nominated
Comedy Series Nominated
2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Comedy Series Won
2007 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series[21] Won
Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Episodic Comedy - for episode "Local Ad" Nominated
Comedy Series Nominated
2008 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Comedy Series Nominated
2009 Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated


  1. ^ Courtney Hollands (20 December 2007). "Molly Goodson has stars in her eyes - and on her blog". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
  2. ^ Berman, Alyssa R.; Beborah B. Doroshow (14 May 2001). "BJs Bring a Full House to Sanders". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  3. ^ Novak, William (2006). The Big Book of Jewish Humor. Collins. p. vii. ISBN 0-06-113813-4.
  4. ^ Getlin, John (17 September 1992). "Ghost to the Stars - William Novak Is the Invisible Writer Behind Memoirs by Lee Iacocca, Nancy Reagan and--Soon--Magic Johnson". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  5. ^ Uriel Heilman (November 19, 2006). "Better than Pork, Isn't it? Jewish Joke Book turns 25". JTA. Archived from the original on 4 September 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2009.
  6. ^ "Class Notes-Solomon Schechter Day School". www.ssdsboston.org. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Christopher Muther (December 6, 2005). "Class reunion". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on February 24, 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
  8. ^ a b c d B. J. Novak on IMDb
  9. ^ a b "B.J. Novak: Videos, Jokes, Tour Dates, Biography and more". Jokes.com. ComedyCentral. 2009. Archived from the original on October 20, 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2009.
  10. ^ David Hiltbrand, "B.J. Novak gives at 'The Office' and out of it", Philadelphia Inquirer, June 11, 2009.
  11. ^ Michael Ausiello, "Exclusive: B.J. Novak Takes 'Office' Leave", Entertainment Weekly, November 12, 2008.
  12. ^ Julie Bosman, "B.J. Novak, Actor and Writer, Signs Two-Book Deal", nytimes.com, April 12, 2013; accessed September 21, 2013.
  13. ^ "Best Sellers". The New York Times. 30 March 2014. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  14. ^ Towers, Andrea (22 January 2014). "On the Books: B.J. Novak lands children's book deal". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  15. ^ "B.J. Novak introduces new app for people who 'just love lists'". EW.com. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  16. ^ Perez, Sarah. "B.J. Novak's "The List App" rebrands to li.st, arrives on Android". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  17. ^ "List App Shuts Down App, Moves On To New Project". Commaful.
  18. ^ "35 Times Mindy Kaling And B.J. Novak's Best Friendship Killed You In The Heart".
  19. ^ "B.J. Novak on his 'Mindy Project' arc, being BFF with Mindy Kaling, and returning to 'The Office'", ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com, January 29, 2013.
  20. ^ https://www.glamour.com/story/bj-novak-the-mindy-project
  21. ^ Andrew Krukowski, "'Sopranos,' 'The Office' Win SAG Ensemble Awards," TVWeek, January 27, 2008.

External links[edit]

External video
Joey Fatone interviews Novak at the 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2008)