Novak was born and raised in Newton, Massachusetts, the son of Linda and William Novak. Novak's father co-edited The Big Book of Jewish Humor and has ghostwritten memoirs for Nancy Reagan, Lee Iacocca, and others; Novak's parents also established a Jewish matchmaking service. Novak has two younger brothers, Jesse and Lev. He attended Newton South High School with future Office costar John Krasinski, and they graduated in 1997. Novak attended Harvard University, where he worked for the Harvard Lampoon and majored in History & Literature. In addition to the Lampoon, he occasionally staged and performed in a variety show called The B.J. Show with fellow Harvard student B. J. Averell. Novak wrote his honors thesis on the films of Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Novak graduated from Harvard in 2001. Afterward he moved to Los Angeles and began working in clubs as a comedian. His first live stand-up performance took place on October 10, 2001 at the Hollywood Youth Hostel. He was named one of Variety's "Ten Comedians To Watch" in 2003.
After hearing Novak's opening joke at a comedy club, executive producer Greg Daniels immediately decided to include Novak in his upcoming project: a U.S. version of the hit British series The Office. Novak was cast as Ryan Howard, becoming the first cast member. He is also a writer and co-executive producer for the series. On July 21, 2010, news reports indicated Novak had signed a contract to remain with the show for its 7th and 8th seasons; under the new terms, he would be made a full executive producer midway through Season 7 and also direct two episodes of the show, as well as becoming the latest cast member to also have a deal with NBC to develop other shows. In a June 2009 interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Novak spoke about sharing the success of The Office with his Newton South High School classmate John Krasinski: He has claimed that his all time favorite episode of "The Office" is, "The Injury."
|“||Sometimes when this feels too good to be true, I think that if this were all a dream, that would be what should have tipped me off. I'd wake up saying, 'I was in this incredible TV show and it was a big hit and the star was John Krasinski from high school. Isn't that weird?'||”|
|2003||Punk'd||Field Agent||TV series|
|2005–2012||The Office||Ryan Howard||Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2006, 2007)|
Nominated: Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2008)
Nominated: Prism Award for Best performance in a Comedy Series (2009)
|2006||Unaccompanied Minors||Flight Attendant|
|2007||Reign Over Me||Mr. Fallon|
|Knocked Up||Unnamed Doctor|
|2009||Inglourious Basterds||Pfc. Smithson Utivich||Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture|
|2011||The Smurfs||Baker Smurf|
|2001–2002||Raising Dad||2 episodes|
|2005– 2013||The Office||12 episodes::Diversity Day (March 29, 2005):Sexual Harassment (September 27, 2005):The Fire (October 11, 2005):Boys and Girls (February 2, 2006):Initiation (October 19, 2006):Safety Training (April 12, 2007):Local Ad (October 25, 2007):Chair Model (April 17, 2008):Prince Family Paper (January 22, 2009):Dream Team (April 9, 2009)
 As director
|2009||The Office – Blackmail webisode series||4 episodes|
|2009||The Office – Scott's Tots||aired 12/03/09|
Awards and nominations
|2005||Writers Guild of America Awards||New Series||No||The Office|
|Episodic Comedy - for episode Diversity Day||No|
|2006||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Yes|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Comedy Series||Yes|
|Emmy Awards||Outstanding Comedy Series||Yes|
|2007||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Yes|
|Emmy Awards||Outstanding Comedy Series||No|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Episodic Comedy - for episode Local Ad||No|
|2008||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||No|
|Emmy Awards||Outstanding Comedy Series||No|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Comedy Series||No|
|2009||Prism Awards||Performance in a Comedy Series||No|
- ^ Courtney Hollands (20 December 2007). "Molly Goodson has stars in her eyes - and on her blog". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/fashion/articles/2007/12/20/shes_got_stars_in_her_eyes___and_on_her_blog/. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
- ^ Berman, Alyssa R.; Beborah B. Doroshow (2001-05-14). "BJ's Bring a Full House to Sanders". Harvard Crimson. http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=104390. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
- ^ Getlin, John (1992-09-17). "Ghost to the Stars - William Novak Is the Invisible Writer Behind Memoirs by Lee Iacocca, Nancy Reagan and--Soon--Magic Johnson". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1992-09-17/news/vw-968_1_william-novak. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
- ^ Uriel Heilman (19 November 2006). "Better than Pork, Isn't it? Jewish Joke Book turns 25". JTA. http://jta.org/news/article/2006/11/19/14678/Betterthanp. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
- ^ a b c d e Christopher Muther (6 December 2005). "Class reunion". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/ae/tv/articles/2005/12/06/class_reunion/. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
- ^ B.J. Novak - Biography
- ^ a b "B.J. Novak: Videos, Jokes, Tour Dates, Biography and more". Jokes.com. ComedyCentral. 2009. http://www.comedycentral.com/comedians/browse/n/bj_novak.jhtml. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
- ^ B.J. Novak gives at 'The Office' and out of it
- ^ B.J. Novak Takes 'Office' Leave
- ^ Screen Actors Guild Honors Outstanding Film and Television Performances..., a January 2007 press release from the SAG Awards website
- ^ 'Sopranos,' 'The Office' Win SAG Ensemble Awards, a January 2008 TVWeek article