February 13, 2014

Many of you know him as Ryan on The Office, the youthful temp-turned-business executive. While you probably recognize his face, you might not know that BJ Novak was actually one of the main writers on the hit show. A few hundred fans showed up to the Nourse Theatre on Hayes St. this past Thursday night to see him as part of the Nourse’s series of “Conversations” with art leaders.

Paul Lancour, a Bay Area broadcaster as well as an actor and sound designer for local theater groups hosted the conversation on stage with Mr. Novak, which also featured a reading from his new book One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories. The book, released on February 4th, has been receiving high praise and comparisons to David Sedaris, Steve Martin, Woody Allen and George Saunders.

The collection of short stories included in the book are both witty and hilarious, showcasing Mr. Novak’s capacity to write about a wide variety of themes. The stories, many of them written over the past eight or nine years, were developed through his two-step process: idea and execution. He described this process during the Q & A with the audience towards the end of the event. 

When asked what most surprised him about his career, Mr. Novak joked he would never  have expected to be “in a beautiful theater in San Francisco reading a story about Frank Sinatra getting a blow job from a grandma.” He then followed up with a serious answer - he never thought he would be an actor. 

His advice to aspiring writers: “be good - seriously be fucking good.” He warned of friends of his who took their greatness for granted and instead focused on the business, thus hindering their careers.

The event concluded with Mr. Novak signing books for the adoring crowd. Though pictures were prohibited, he was nice enough to pose for a few selfies with fans who were able to sneak it past security; nevertheless, there was a sense that Mr. Novak would’ve rather been somewhere else than a book signing on a Thursday night. 

Future speakers in the Spring 2014 series of Conversations at the Nourse include: Piper Kerman (on whom the critically acclaimed Netflix show Orange is the New Black is based), playwright Tony Kushner, and UC Berkeley professor and author Michael Pollan. More information and tickets can be found at www.cityarts.net.

You can also find the book online for sale here: http://www.amazon.com/One-More-Thing-Stories-Other/dp/0385351836. We highly recommend it.


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