|B.J. Novak backstage at UCB after his show. More philosophical than Woody Allen |
Eight years ago at a comedy show in Los Feliz, B.J. Novak took the mike and regaled the crowd with a jaw dropping story: As a tween, he had a personal encounter with Michael Jackson.
The theme of the night entailed comedians' run-ins with celebrities, and before the crowd's imagination could assume the worst for Novak as a child, he hysterically put us at ease recounting Jackson's presence at a dinner party at Deepak Chopra's house in Massachusetts. The jokes were in the details, and Novak's sincere boyish demeanor not only heightened the story, but also made what might be perceived as a whale tale more believable: Jackson whisked into the room disguised, sat at the kids' dinner table, played Scattergories, and finished the night by singing Queen's "We Are the Champions" a cappella after he and Novak won the game. (Years later, Novak recounted this story on the Late Show With David Letterman)
Upon hearing that Novak is releasing a book of his comedic prose this February entitled One More Thing, culled from his public essay show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Uncollected Stories, the mind savored what other anecdotes The Office scribe and star had in his pocket. One could assume that Novak had some wacky takeaways from his childhood memories of Nancy Reagan and Lee Iacocca standing around in his kitchen. Novak's father, William, was a noted ghostwriter of memoirs for such celebrities. However, rather than pull from these true-to-life moments -- and the Jackson story is true -- Novak's UCB show and upcoming book take the opposite approach: They're a collection of essays without any ounce of credibility.
"With that Michael Jackson story and some others, I felt like I lucked out on a few amazing experiences. I didn't earn them. I was lucky that happened to me," explains Novak in a phone interview. "I feel like my prose writing is my way of being personal. My values and sense of humor come to the surface." More »