Comedic talent B.J. Novak's literary collection should not be overlooked
By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief
Although it’s been several months since “The Office” actor, writer and director B.J. Novak published “One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories,” his work can still be heralded here because it’s probably the best comedy book of this year.
Comprised of short stories, vignettes and some very short snippets of intellectual jokes, Novak’s book is astounding for the creatively conceived and executed premises it contains. He has quite the gift for weaving surreal ideas into everyday situations, using everyday prose. Novak does this in one story taking place in heaven where a grandmother keeps ducking a grandson’s invitation to meet him and his wife ... because she has better things to do, and only knew him for nine years as a kid.
In another, similarly, Novak imagines what would happen if the owner of a sex robot returned it because she fell in love with him – how the media would find out and he would become a universally mocked punchline. That rings totally true to how something like this would play out, even though it has that element of the fantastic in it.
Novak also has numerous other gems in the book, some quite short and concise, like one about a principal who leads a rebellion against math as a subject, and another about an architect’s 10-year-old son who is knowledgeable beyond his years and lets his dad know it.
The stories in “One More Thing” definitely have a cinematic flair to them, and are reminiscent of the literary comedic efforts of Woody Allen and Albert Brooks. Reading these suggests that if Novak gets free rein to become a filmmaker outside the parameters of “The Office,” he would be as inventive and smart as those comedy icons.
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© 2005-2017 Michael Shashoua