Will I be too warm in a long-sleeve tee
Real question, how has your life changed because of the office and what was your favorite episode to make?
Great question. My personal opinion (speaking for myself, not the character of Ryan): You will never be too warm or too cold in a long-sleeve tee. In my opinion it is the perfect item of clothing. Further backstory: this line drove writer/producer Michael Schur crazy because executive producer Greg Daniels refused to clarify whether it was meant to be sarcastic or not. It was a vehemently debated line among the Office writing staff, for some reason.
Congrats on what I expect was a second rate education.
Let's focus here guys
Hey, huge fan of your work on The Office. Who were you closest with on the set of The Office?
I was closest with Mindy Kaling, and also least close with Mindy Kaling, on a minute-by-minute basis. And I wouldn't trade it for the word. Actually, I would trade it for the world. What am I talking about: I'd trade it for a more consistently positive relationship with Mindy Kaling. She's the best.
What was it like working with Tarantino and the rest of the Basterds cast?
It was incredible. The most exciting condensed period of my life and I can't imagine I'll ever do anything more exciting and I'm actually fine with that -- I don't know what could top that fantasy-camp of a filmmaking experience. The only stressful part was when we'd all go out drinking after a day on set, and I'd ask Quentin Tarantino a question, and he'd start to answer, and I'd feel this enormous pressure to REMEMBER EVERY SINGLE SYLLABLE because film history was literally being dictated to my brain, and I was the only witness, and I was two drinks in and feared I wasn't going to remember a sentence that a friend or historian would ask me for someday. It was the coolest thing ever, quite simply.
I loved you on The Office, as both an actor and writer; and you were great in Saving Mr.Banks.
What was your favorite episode that you wrote for The Office?
What do you think happened to Ryan and Kelly after the office documentary was over?
Thanks - Troy!
First - name's not Troy, it's B.J. -- not a big deal.
The episode of "The Office" that I wrote that I'm proudest of is the first one I wrote, "Diversity Day." The show was completely new and I was assigned this amazing comedic opportunity to write what happened in this incredibly rich situation. The only question was, how far were we allowed to go? Not just with the jokes, but with the characters -- with their ignorance, their mistakes, their discomfort? It turned out really far, and learning that helped all of the writers learn that we were going to be able to write the show we wanted to write; and helped the actors learn that they better ground the characters in some real humanity, because they were going to be taken to some pretty raw places.
In high school did John Krasinski stare into the camera and shrug every so often?
Constantly. We all thought he was crazy. Little did we know!
Do you find it more gratifying playing comedic roles, or serious roles? I saw you perform at Marist College and I thought you were excellent!
Thank you! One thing I learned from The Office is that the line between funny and dramatic is paper-thin (no pun intended) and often non-existent. If you ground a performance in truth, it can be both as funny and as dramatic as can be. I think no one embodied that lesson better than Steve Carell.
Are you still starting fires?
I take offense with your implication that I started multiple fires. I started one fire. The episode to which you inferring is called "The Fire," not "A Fire."
Late in the run of the series, when we discussed how it all might end, one of many crazy suggestion we batted around was that Ryan burns Dunder-Mifflin to the ground and it turns out he'd been a pyromaniac the whole time. We were pulling a lot of late nights when that got pitched.
I have a lot of questions. Number one: how dare you?
Points for this one.
What's Mindy Kaling's deepest darkest secret?
She shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.
Can i still invest in WUPHF?
Yes, and this is the perfect place to announce that WUPHF has been updated and now links not just to your home phone, cell phone, pager, fax machine, and home phone, but now includes Reddit as well. Wuphf your friends!
Were you happy about how The Office ended?
How will the film industry change in the future, especially for writers?
Are you trying to pretend this is a two-part question? These questions are insanely different!
Yes. I think it was a really great final episode, and I love that the final episode acknowledged the impact that the documentary crew had on everyone's lives, and also continued the story with the characters. And on a personal level I loved that Ryan literally ran off into the sunset with Kelly -- but abandoned a baby in order to do so. So funny and dark and happy perfect. Greg Daniels deserves all the credit in the world for wrapping up the series the way he started it out.
We will approach the singularity and the film industry will be entertaining itself with cat videos and pornography expressed in indecipherable extensions of binary code. Writers will be obsolete.
B.J. you're absolutely hilarious in the Office and I loved you in Inglorious Bastards. I'm a big fan, feel very lucky I found this. What's it like working on The Amazing Spiderman 2? What do you think of portraying Smythe?
Very cool, can't say much, Marc Webb is one of the coolest and sharpest directors I have worked with.
Do you have any scripts or footage of the high school theatre work you and "Jim" did? I'd love to see either.
Thanks for stoping by dude, good luck on your book tour!
Maybe. Do you have a VHS player?
We have a "Ryan Howard" in my office - he's a freelancer with a similar personality to Ryan and who has a bizarre resemblance to you. Since senior management refuses to get rid of the guy, despite incredibly sub-par work, we're forced to deal with his absolutely asinine personality. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with him?
Turn a camera on him and surround him with more talented people conveying more likeable and entertaining and occasionally romantic storylines. $$$$$$$$$$$$
You know it wasn't a real documentary right?
I know this. You know this. I am not sure Creed knows this.
What is one scene from The Office that, no matter how hard you tried, you/the cast just couldnt get through without laughing? And what was so funny?
Kevin sitting on Michael's lap in one of the later Christmas episodes. Michael was playing Santa, and Kevin didn't realize he was absolutely crushing Michael while he took his sweet time figuring out what present he wanted to ask Santa for.
Hey Ryan. Big fan. Just left my girlfriend to be with you. Where are you?
This is a mistake on so many practical and conceptual levels that I don't know where to begin. Get her back.
On the Halloween episode of The Office in season 8 when you were dressed in the beanie and yellow hoodie, were you supposed to be Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad? Never saw this confirmed. Thanks
Hey B.J. Loved both your writing and acting in The Office, haven't followed any of your other work but I don't watch too much TV, so take it as a compliment ;)
Question is, who was your favorite character in The Office, from a writer's perspective?
I don't understand why you felt it necessary to include the part about not having followed any of my other work since your question was about The Office and is a perfectly reasonable one, but, here goes:
My favorite character to write for was quite simply Michael Scott. Steve brought such humanity to the role that you could write him to these incredible extremes and he would play them in the most believable ways. Also, he had these beautiful blind spots to his logic that were inimitable. He was almost brilliant in the ways he could be foolish: he walked this incredible blurred line between the two.
I feel that lead characters are occasionally overlooked or taken for granted by the most devoted fans of a show. (With the best intentions, but still!) I loved the Sopranos and my favorite character was Tony Soprano. I love The Simpsons and my favorite character is Homer Simpson.
My favorite supporting character to write for on The Office was Toby.
Hey B.J. thanks for the AMA. Can you talk a little bit about the challenges or surprises you find when doing voice over work (Smurfs) as opposed to live action?
My role in The Smurfs and Smurfs 2 was essentially to record a handful of different variations of "WhoOOA-ooooA-oaaaA-OA! My muffins!!!" So perhaps I am not the best person to answer this question.
How does it feel to be on SNL? What is your favorite news segment you've done?
This is my most common celebrity confusion. I have regularly been complimented for my work on Weekend Update or (back in the day) my John Kerry impression. Big Seth Meyers fan. I ain't mad at it
If the cast of The Office was suddenly trapped on a desert island, who would be eaten first? What would they taste like?
Dwight would eat everyone, the first day. Even if there was an abundant food source on the desert island.
Hey B.J, what was best prank that was pulled on you or by you ? Either on set or just in your life. Thanks for doing this little man!
I am extremely proud of a prank I pulled at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston when I was 17 with my good friend Peter Nelson. I told the story on Letterman last week. I think the clip of that is on YouTube.
HOLY SHIT, im actually in time for an AMA for once.
Would just like to say that you were my fav in the office, FIRE GUY!!!
This isn't the best question in the world - in fact, it isn't even a question at all - but congrats on making it here in time, buddy. I know the feeling. It's a good one. Welcome.
How did you feel being the last thing people saw before the credits roll in a Tarantino film?
Huh? What? Is this question specific for me? Do you ask everyone this?
Who was one of your favorite guest stars to appear on the office?
Watching Will Ferrell & Steve Carell perform together in Season 8 was one of the highlights of the whole series to me.
If Pfc. Smithson Utivich from Inglorious Bastards and Robert Sherman from Saving Mr Banks were in a movie together. What would that movie be about?
They both served in World War II, so, probably it would be Utivich explaining that they killed Hitler and Robert Sherman saying "What the fuck are you talking about?"
BJ, what's your favorite type of soup?
Current Newton South student here. Were you and John Krasinski friends is high school? Did you ever think you guys would be acting together in the future? Thanks so much for coming to the school, had a blast last time you were there!
We acted together in the Senior Show our senior year. He was incredibly talented and the show was a lot of fun, but no, it never occurred to me that anyone would do anything together after high school. Who ever imagines that?
I sometimes think that if I were to wake up and it turned out The Office was all a dream, the fact that John Krasinski was in it with me would be what I'd realize afterward should have been the obvious tip-off. "Oh! And John Krasinski was in it, too! But they called him Jim! And there was a beet farmer... Whoa, so weird"
Have you lost your mind? Cause I'll help you find it!
Would you say your new book is Like Crack?
Great reference. A classic Mindy Kaling-scripted exchange.
Hello B.J., quick question; what was your inspiration for your book "One More Thing"?
I am super stoked to go out and get it ASAP! (Also, obligatory "I LOVED you in The Office")
The inspiration were all the ideas I had during the years of "The Office" that I never had the opportunity to fit into the show, since they just didn't quite fit Jim and Pam and Dwight and Michael and a paper company, etc. Many of the ideas in the book started with things I thought of in those years, but couldn't responsibly pretend was a good plot for those characters in that situation.
What is your favorite Beethoven symphony?
Hi B.J. - I'm a big fan of The Office, thanks for doing this AMA!
I enjoyed your article in the New Yorker, and I heard it's an excerpt from this book. Will the rest of your stories be in a similar fictional style or will you also be including some personal anecdotes? I'd love to read more about your journey to this point and I'm sure we'd all love to hear some behind-the-scenes gossip of the cast…
Thanks! They are all fiction. But a lot my life experiences and opinions and feelings and ideas made their way into that form.
How do you make a cheese pita?
What is your typical writing process like?
9am. Wake up, turn on some music I like, put on a pot of coffee, and sit down to start writing! A few productive hours and then a break for lunch, and then a couple of more hours if possible: sounds like a plan! 9:15am-4:30pm: Read, text, look up stuff on the internet, read, text, look up stuff on the internet, in a trance cycle 4:30pm: Think "Jesus Christ, have I really done NOTHING all day?!? The day is almost fucking over! I am really fucking worthless." 4:30pm-7:30pm: Write like a maniac. 7:30pm: Decide, "okay, at least I got SOMETHING done today. Tomorrow, I'm going wake up early, be at my desk by 9, and really make up for lost time. REPEAT
Who is your favorite comedian? What is your favorite joke?
Mitch Hedberg is my favorite comedian of all-time. I'm not saying he was the best of all time, but he was my favorite.
Mitch Hedberg is my favorite comedian of all-time. I'm not saying he was the best of all time, but he was my favorite.
Right now, I like Dan Mintz, John Mulaney, and Louis CK the best.
I heard you on KROQ this morning talking with Kevin and Bean about reading your book on stage while you were still in the process of writing it: Can you tell us a little bit more about that experience? I can't wait to pick your book up!
Also, do you like hockey? If so, who's your team?
Talking with Kevin and Bean about reading my book on stage while I was still in the process of writing it was one of the best radio conversations I've ever had on the subject.
Seriously, though: I love Kevin and Bean and I love how much people tell me whenever they hear me on it. It really is an LA institution.
As for your real question: I loved reading the stories onstage during the editing process. I did it once a month at the UCB in LA, and it was terrifying and exhilirating, too.
I wanted the stories to be as funny and entertaining and interesting as possible -- and it's easier to think you're all those things when you're alone in your house than it is reading it in front of people. I'm terrified of boring people with my writing, or of being pretentious or just wasting anyone's time. Standup comedy was the most brutal but effective way of honing material I've ever experienced: if something doesn't work, you KNOW it in your bones. So I figured that if I was serious about this book entertaining people (I know that sounds like a paradox but I was very serious about the quality of the comedy) I should give myself every advantage. The best advantage I had was the ability to get people to come to a theater and see my work in progress, which was something I knew from standup. So, I read the stories. I knew when one wasn't working, and when one was, and why, and when. Audiences can't lie. Polite laughter sounds very different from real laughter, and genuine interest looks really different from fake interest.
Did you ever submit threat level midnight to film festivals?
That's a great idea. I loved writing Threat Level Midnight and my first draft was like 50 pages. The complete "movie" is on the Season 8 DVD.
Who is the most naturally funny person on The Office?
David Koechner, who played Todd Packer.
What's the worst you ever bombed doing stand up or anything comedy related?
Too many to count
How did the ladies like your hair when it was frosted tipped for a few seasons in The Office?
It horrified people. One of my comedy heroes is Bob Odenkirk, who I idolized from Mr. Show. I ran into him & had a twenty minute conversation before I realized I should mention that my hair was for an arc on "The Office." "Oh," he smiled. "I thought you were just a total douchebag actor."
What is your favorite book?
Favorite books of the past year or so: Tenth of December, by George Saunders; Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.
When did you know you were famous?
I was the new guy on "Punk'd" before I was on "The Office." I thought that would be my "thing" for the rest of my life- and I was fine with it! I was in Denver the week after Punk'd first aired, to open for the comic Nick Swardson at Comedy Works, and I was sitting in a Starbucks, and a guy walked past the window, stopped, and stared at me, before resuming his walk. Then the next guy did the same thing. Then the next guy. It was the most amazing, strange thing that had ever happened to me. I'll never forget that day.
Hey BJ! Just listened to your Nerdist podcast and I feel like Jonah Ray left out his favorite question...what's your perfect Sunday?
Looking forward to your book.
My perfect Sunday, I've learned, is dependent on having the worst, most stressful week. During The Office, during our most miserably long-hour weeks: perfect Sunday was sleeping 12 hours, waking up at noon, Sunday New York Times and a Venti coffee from Starbucks. Anytime I had those two things I was like, wow, I've got all I need. Now that we aren't in that writers room all week, it takes much more to satisfy me, unfortunately; things like human connection, meaning, stuff like that. Things were simpler then.
What was your most memorable experience while in the Harvard Lampoon? I have a family member who was in it and he's told me some of the silly things you all get into.
Those are secret! Tell me who your family member is so I can have him/her killed
I live in Newton Corner and you're kind of a legend around here. I mean, after Matt Damon, Louis CK, Matt LeBlanc, John Krasinski, Eli Roth, and John Slattery. Don't worry though, you're DEFINITELY up there!
Anyway, favorite place in Newton to eat?
Don't leave out Jonathan Katz! Newton really does have some great people come out of it. I'd say it's the water but I feel like it's the kind of upscale place that drinks a lot of bottled water. So, something in the Poland Springs, perhaps.
What's one thing about yourself that people don't know about you that you wish they did?
I can do one magic trick really well. It involves coins and an old man taught it to me when I was five years old.
Starting a book tour from an undisclosed location, huh? Sounds like you need a new manger.
No question here... just wanted to tell you how under-appreciated your work has been and how much I appreciate the laughs you have brought.
I love this typo: what if I was, indeed, doing this from a manger. God complex, much?!?!?!?!?
Thank you for your compliment. Very appreciated.
Do you have any advice for a twenty year old college student, who wants to be a comedy writer in the future?
Depends. What year in the future?
Write for the kid sitting next to you.
B.J. No question, sorry. Please tell Mindy Kaling that I loooove her.
So....was he a hobbit or not?
The official name of the character you are referring to is (this is true, you can look it up): Troy L. Underbridge. So, you tell me...
Do people call you Beej?
BJ: First of all, I'm a huge fan of you and your work (especially The Office)! You're awesome! My question: where did you come up with the idea to make a book of short stories? Why didn't you do a memoir like many other celebrities? Did someone inspire your book? LOVE YOU
People say truth is stranger than fiction. I disagree. Proof: Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln & Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy: True, and strange. Kennedy had a dragon named Lincoln and Lincoln had a dragon named Kennedy: fiction, and stranger!
What's your favorite pizza?
Plain. Why does everyone feel such pressure to put things on pizza? Order one plain pizza and it is ALWAYS the first to go.
Hi B.J., HUGE FAN! I'll be in Austin at your Book People signing. Any chance I could buy you some awesome Austin, TX BBQ afterwards?
Decent chance, yes
Did you start the fire ?
ASKED AND ANSWERED
Hey B.J. I saw you at the bookstore where I work yesterday and all I could say was "you were on the office, that's amazing". Thanks for the AMA you seem like a genuinely nice guy! My question is how different was it for you to write a book from writing on The Office? Which was more difficult for you?
Hey! Barnes and Noble, right? Hi!
It was actually really similar in the big creative ways: thinking about how to find comedy and surprise and emotion in the unexpected and the everyday.
It was a lot quieter because Mindy wasn't around.
I know there are a lot of us. And I know it's a bit overwhelming. But I hope this question reaches you.
Big fan of everything you're involved in. Especially Inglorious Basterds.
Do you have any aspirations to direct a film?
I'd love to direct, but I think only things I write.
I consider myself a writer first.
I wrote and directed my book trailer a few weeks ago and loved the experience. It definitely made me want to direct more.
Big fan of your work. I saw you doing the stories from the book at UCB in NYC twice last year and wondered how much the reactions at live shows made you change the content?
Really enjoyed the stories by the way, particularly the one about the couple in heaven
If you liked something, it's probably in! If you didn't, it's probably cut!
Thank you, I love the heaven one.
Who's your favorite girl that's also a little person that's also a friend of a friend?
You said on the nerdist podcast that you want to do work that is meaningful and long-lasting. What are some books and films that have been meaningful to you in your career?
I answered books a moment ago, so, films:
Taxi Driver. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The King of Comedy. Pulp Fiction. The Naked Gun. Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Adaptation.
Can you talk Bill Murray into remaking and starring in Road House along with John Goodman and Betty White?
Is this really the best use of Bill Murray?
Did you keep any pieces of the set of The Office?
I have two Wuphf condoms from the "Wuphf" episode.
Do you know which line of work Bob Vance is in?
Nice reference, thank you, classic Mike Schur line
I'd like you to write some horror.
I'd like to be in a horror film. I told my agent and he was really surprised but I think I'd be really good. I think if you saw my face on a poster for a horror movie you'd think "ohhhhhhh shiiiiiit" in a good way
Have you ever considered using your fame to try and become the "New Hitler"? I've heard you have some pretty good ideas.
Only if it's a new Hitler NOTHING like the old Hitler.
The old Hitler was a monster, a maniac, an evil man.
Would you allow a film crew to film everything you do at work and even follow you along after work sometimes?
Is this a reality show offer? Contact CAA
All of the above.
What was it like living with highlights in the mid 2000s?
Hey, I don't have any questions. I just wanted to say thanks for being awesome.
With Tig Notaro? She put me to shame - she was incredible!
Hey B.J. big fan of your work. Aside from the new book (can't wait to pick up a copy), are there any other projects you're especially excited for?
Thanks! I'm writing a screenplay I'm excited about.
When the other Office cast members tried to relate to you how insane the Scranton parade was, how long was it before you tried to stick your head in an over for missing it? And how long did it take you to talk Mindy down from the ledge of her apartment building since she missed it too?
You seem to take things to emotional extremes... I think we were both sad to miss it but it did not affect us to the extent you describe.
What do you think of Ryan overall?
Would you rather fight 100 horse-sized Dwight Schrutes or 100 Dwight Schrute-sized ducks?
Both sound like a particular hallucenogenic hell. Thanks for the nightmares!
Who is your favorite Dora the Explorer character and why?
Dora. Again: main characters are underrated by serious fans
Are you going to guest star on future episodes of the Mindy Project again?
I hope so! I like hanging out with that whole gang a lot.
Why do you like writing?
It's like talking but without the immediate regret afterwards
Were you in the Think Coffee on Bowery yesterday morning? I'm like 90% sure that was you.
Did Craig Robinson ever try to get your panties off?
I don't think he was singing that song to me
Top post in one hour. I must see what's going on in here
welcome to the party, pal
BJ, love the show!
Question Numero Uno: Did you come up with the Creed idea of " If I cant scuba, what's this all about?" Fav Creed moment!
I wish I had. I wasn't in the writers' room when they wrote that line. It blew my mind.
What is dark matter?
Great question, and answered (almost) in the second story in my book
Why do you always look disinterested?
It's just my face! I'm totally interested! I have been battling this my whole life. People think I hate them or don't want to be where I am. I think this should qualify as some sort of super-minor-but-real disability. I feel like when I tell this to people, I find it's much more common than people think.
Who is your favorite actor?
Right now, Adam Driver
Just want you to know... Parks and rec is better then the office!
Marry, fuck, kill
Mindy Kaling Dr. Mindy Lahiri Kelly Kapoor
What does Ryan Howard from Dunder Mifflin think about Ryan Howard from the Philadelphia Phillies? I feel like Scranton must be Phillies country. Does that get confusing?
No one has ever, ever, ever confused me for Ryan Howard from the Philadelphia Phillies.
So how's your rap career going as the og male primadonna Mr. Understood? I'm hoping for you to do a collaboration with PSY for a Korean-fusion double dose of male primadonna. Would be kinda like a kim chi and Boston baked beans on toasted white bread.
I'd love to do more with Mr. Understood from the "Subtle Sexuality" web series. Does anyone have Diplo's email?
Hey little man ..wassup?
This better be an "Inglorious Basterds" reference.
I keep trying to ask a question and it won't show up! Why is my life hell?
That's your question? I think you should consult a professional!
You're hilarious on Twitter. What are your favorite accounts to follow?
Thanks! @mindykaling @rainnwilson @coffee_dad @icecubetray @conortripler
I loved your short story publish by One Story. Do you have any other written work coming out soon?
This book I wrote!! Other stories I've published online are all collected on uncollectedstories.com
Hey, BJ, do you remember the little theme you composed for Mr. Dunkel? If you posted a video of you playing it, that would make me happy!
I do remember it. Do you have a clarinet handy?
Hey uhh..how is your day going so far?
It's been the best. I had no idea these things were so much fun. Thank you for participating and helping me distract myself from everything else in my life. I've been having the best time for real.
I saw you at UCBNY and UCBLA, it was great to see how the stories progressed! Sad the Rabbit-Duck illusion bit didn't get more laughs both times.
Questions: You've been sitting with this book for so long, do you feel you'll have a bit of separation anxiety from it? Was it easier to start on your children's book having already gone through this?
Thanks! I love hearing about people's favorite overlooked things - I think every writer and comedian does.
I am so excited about the book being out that it's my primary emotion right now. I can't believe it when I meet someone who's read a story or two in an advanced copy- it feels like they read my private notebooks or something. I felt the same thing when The Office started: people would quote a joke and I'd instinctively think, "how did you know that? That was something that Paul said to Rainn at my work!"
I saw you at UIC. You were great!
Thanks! I love college audience
Thanks! I love college audience
I actually had a dream earlier this week where I met you and told you that your character in Reign Over Me was a dick. So I'm telling you now.
If you could jump into a giant bowl of anything, what would it be?
Lint from Pharrell's pajamas. And what do mean "if" I could? I can, and I will
Hey B.J. would you like to grab dinner in the city tonight??
See you at Sbarro's!