I’m currently in the seventh season of “The Office” and I’m right at the part where Steve Carrell leaves the show. At first I hated his character, Michael, and found the show to be as annoying and topsy turvy as he is. But there are some people you take a little time to warm up to, and he turned out to be one of them. His kindness, sensitivity, and weirdness were charming and when he was walking to catch his plane, I wanted to follow him out. I mean if there is no Michael, what is “The Office”?
Around this time, I found out about a book signing that BJ Novak was hosting in the Brattle Theatre for his new children’s book, The Book With No Pictures. I’ve always been a Ryan fan and this would be my second time meeting him. Since I had seen him before, I wasn’t too crazy excited on way to the book reading and signing and I thought maybe this was another sign that I was over “The Office.” Not all shows are meant to be great always and maybe the show had peaked right when Michael left.
I entered the theatre and saw kids and college students alike waiting anxiously to catch a glimpse of BJ Novak. I was wondering how kids would know of him since he was in a TV show that wasn’t catered to them, but I guess that is how kids end up liking the same actors or soccer teams that their parents love. I took a seat, finished BJ’s book in two minutes, chuckled, and immediately opened up my Physiological Psychology textbook to study for my midterm. The girl next to me was gave me a side judge glance but hey, I managed to study the psychopharmacology component so say no drugs.
Just when I was finishing up the chapter, BJ Novak pranced to the stage and with his kiddy-kiddy voice, addressing the audience. I was immediately starstruck. I have been watching this man on my computer screen for the past two years and this was the second time I was meeting him in the last six months. I then thought of how crazy it was that he had acted alongside Steve Carell, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, and other big names in the industry. AND HE KNEW MINDY KALING. I was starstruck by him by association as well.
I was in awe of how in character he was when he was reciting his book for the kids in the audience. He added emphasis to each silly word as if it were a script for a TV show. He gave each word its rightful weight even if it did not necessarily have meaning. He made it clear that he was first a writer, then a performer, and I realized right then why I loved “The Office” this whole time.
Each joke, each scenario, each character had some purpose in the episode. They were incredibly random and wacked out, but they meant to elicit feeling and a response from the audience. No joke was put in just for the sake of laughs and that is why “The Office” was so successful in giving even the smallest of characters some level of personality that other TV shows can’t for their main characters. I had read BJ Novak’s earlier book and found the same with his writing. Maybe I had walked out on “The Office” a bit too early.
When it came time for the book signing, I was giddy all over and anxious to be met face to face with someone who has been in a successful TV show and numerous films. And the person I ended up talking to turned out to be the exact same person I met last time: someone so down to earth and nice that I realized all this idea of success I had of him being on screen with the biggest names had no effect on him. He just wanted to make people laugh, and that is exactly what “The Office” wanted to do.
I am now about to tune in to the next episode of “The Office” and I am still upset that there will no longer be Michael’s terribly racist jokes to grace our TV experience. But most of the writers, characters, Scranton, and ideas are still there. “The Office” will always be a place for me to go to when I’m stressed, or when I just don’t want to do work.