B. J. Novak

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B.J. Novak
B.J. Novak, Actor.jpg
Novak at SF Sketch Fest 2008
BornBenjamin Joseph Manaly Novak
(1979-07-31) July 31, 1979 (age 35)
Newton, Massachusetts, U.S.
OccupationActor, comedian, screenwriter, author, director
Years active2001–present
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B.J. Novak
B.J. Novak, Actor.jpg
Novak at SF Sketch Fest 2008
BornBenjamin Joseph Manaly Novak
(1979-07-31) July 31, 1979 (age 35)
Newton, Massachusetts, U.S.
OccupationActor, comedian, screenwriter, author, director
Years active2001–present

Benjamin Joseph Manaly "B.J." Novak (born July 31, 1979) is an American actor, stand-up comedian, screenwriter, author, and director. He is most widely known for being a writer and executive producer of The Office, in which he also played Ryan Howard.

Early life[edit]

Novak was born and raised in Newton, Massachusetts, the son of 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, and others; his parents also established a Jewish matchmaking service.[4][5] Novak has two younger brothers, Jesse, a composer, and Lev. He attended Newton South High School with future Office costar John Krasinski,[6] and they graduated in 1997.[6] Novak graduated from Harvard University, 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.[7] 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.[6]


Novak in June 2007

Novak graduated from Harvard University in 2001. Afterward 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.[8]

Novak was a writer for the short-lived The WB sitcom Raising Dad.[6] He performed on Comedy Central's Premium Blend and on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.[8][7]

Novak's television acting career began on MTV's Punk'd.[6] 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]

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":[6] 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:[9]

"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 and Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.[10] He played composer Robert B. Sherman in Saving Mr. Banks (2013), and Alistair Smythe in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014).[7]

Book deal[edit]

On April 11, 2013, 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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[7] He served as a consulting producer for Season 1 of The Mindy Project, [14] and is currently an executive producer of the show. His brother Jesse is the music composer for The Mindy Project.[7]



Roles as an actor
2003Punk'dField AgentTelevision series
2005–2012, 2013Office, TheThe OfficeRyan HowardTelevision 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)
2006Unaccompanied MinorsFlight Attendant
2007Reign Over MeMr. Fallon
Knocked UpUnnamed Doctor
2009Inglourious BasterdsPfc. Smithson UtivichScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2011Smurfs, TheThe SmurfsBaker Smurf
2012Dictator, TheThe DictatorUncredited
2013Mindy Project, TheThe Mindy ProjectJamieTelevision series
3 episodes
2013Internship, TheThe InternshipMale Interviewer
2013Saving Mr. BanksRobert B. Sherman
2014Amazing Spider-Man 2, TheThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Alistair Smythe
2014CommunityMr. EgyptEpisode: "Basic Sandwich" (cameo)
2014The NewsroomLucas PruitTelevision series
4 episodes
Roles as a writer
2001–2002Raising Dad2 episodes
2005–2012Office, TheThe OfficeEpisodes 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)

2013Mindy Project, TheThe Mindy Project1 episode
Roles as a director
2009Office, TheThe OfficeBlackmail webisode series4 episodes
2009The Office – "Scott's Tots"aired 12/03/09
2011The Office - "The Seminar"aired 01/27/11
The Office - "The List"aired 09/22/11
2012The Office – "Trivia"aired 01/12/12
2013The Mindy Project – "Mindy's Minute"aired 02/19/13
2013The Mindy Project - "Santa Fe"aired 04/09/13

Awards and nominations[edit]

List of awards and nominations
2005Writers Guild of America AwardsNew SeriesNominatedThe Office
Episodic Comedy - for episode "Diversity Day"Nominated
Comedy SeriesNominated
2006Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy SeriesWon
Writers Guild of America AwardsComedy SeriesWon
2007Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series[15]Won
Emmy AwardsOutstanding Comedy SeriesNominated
Writers Guild of America AwardsEpisodic Comedy - for episode "Local Ad"Nominated
Comedy SeriesNominated
2008Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy SeriesNominated
Emmy AwardsOutstanding Comedy SeriesNominated
Writers Guild of America AwardsComedy SeriesNominated
2009Prism AwardsPerformance in a Comedy SeriesNominated


  1. ^ Courtney Hollands (20 December 2007). "Molly Goodson has stars in her eyes - and on her blog". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  2. ^ Berman, Alyssa R.; Beborah B. Doroshow (2001-05-14). "BJ's Bring a Full House to Sanders". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  3. ^ Novak, William (2006). The Big Book of Jewish Humor. Collins. p. vii. ISBN 0-06-113813-4. 
  4. ^ Getlin, John (1992-09-17). "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 2009-08-19. 
  5. ^ Uriel Heilman (November 19, 2006). "Better than Pork, Isn't it? Jewish Joke Book turns 25". JTA. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  6. ^ 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 2009-03-06. 
  7. ^ a b c d e B. J. Novak at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ a b "B.J. Novak: Videos, Jokes, Tour Dates, Biography and more". Jokes.com. ComedyCentral. 2009. Archived from the original on March 19, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  9. ^ David Hiltbrand, "B.J. Novak gives at 'The Office' and out of it", Philadelphia Inquirer, June 11, 2009.
  10. ^ Michael Ausiello, "Exclusive: B.J. Novak Takes 'Office' Leave", Entertainment Weekly, November 12, 2008.
  11. ^ Julie Bosman, "B.J. Novak, Actor and Writer, Signs Two-Book Deal", nytimes.com, April 12, 2013; accessed September 21, 2013.
  12. ^ "Best Sellers". The New York Times. 2014-03-30. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  13. ^ Towers, Andrea (2014-01-22). "On the Books: B.J. Novak lands children's book deal". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  14. ^ "B.J. Novak on his 'Mindy Project' arc, being BFF with Mindy Kaling, and returning to 'The Office'", ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com, January 29, 2013.
  15. ^ 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)