“The Office” star B.J. Novak attracts students for comedy show

By KATIE GEBAUER Managing Editor

Typically the hub for sports like wrestling and basketball, students and community members filled Frost Arena Friday for a night of stand-up comedy with B.J. Novak.

Novak, widely known for his role on the television show “The Office,” was brought to campus by University Program Council (UPC). Not only was Novak a star on the show, he is also an author, producer and has had roles in “The Newsroom,” “The Smurfs” and, most recently, “The Founder.”  

The first big laugh of the evening came from a “Titanic” and “The Lion King” reference performed by South Dakota State’s improv group, Jumpin’ Jacks. Members opened the night with a performance of various skits that included severe hip-swaying and thigh-slapping, as well as a reference to beer-filled backpacks.

Caleb Woodring, senior theatre major and a performer in Jumpin’ Jacks, said it was his first experience as part of an opening act. 

“UPC was super great to work with and everyone in Jumpin’ Jacks was extremely excited to participate in this event,” Woodring said. 

Novak entered the stage with a joke about how horrible Delta Airlines is.

He started off the show with one-liners about the “wholesome Midwest,” which included Kum & Go, the Seed House and Mom’s Weekend. Laughter rippled through the crowd as the audience caught his subtle references.  

The next big laugh of the night was a story about the vehicle navigator, OnStar. Novak relayed his experience of forgetting that OnStar has real people on the other end of the line, once the button is pushed in a car, and detailed a previous outburst with his OnStar assistant.

Senior advertising major and vice president of UPC Helen Conzemius thought Novak was hilarious.

Following the stand-up portion of the evening, UPC coordinators read questions for Novak submitted by the audience.

Novak was asked about his future plans, his hair and his time on “The Office.” One student asked which episode of “The Office” is his favorite. 

“‘The Injury’ — the one where Michael Scott grilled his foot. That’s when I knew this show is bonkers,” Novak said. 

Another student asked which episode was his favorite to write. 

“‘The Fire’—  Fire Guy is yelled at me every day,” Novak said. 

Finally, a question was asked about the final episode with Michael Scott. According to Novak, the reactions were all real.

“The line between fiction and reality is blurred,” Novak said, and that it was something that happened often on the show. 

After hugging each of the UPC members, who announced questions for Novak, he exited the stage to applause echoing through the arena. 

Some students had the opportunity to meet Novak after the show and shared positive responses to the meeting.

“He’s just a really nice guy. You kind of forget he’s famous, because it feels like you’ve been friends forever,” Woodring said.