The Office
The B.J. Novak Interview

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"It Was Just So Intellectually Stimulating And Inspiring; It Was All I Wanted To Do"
WC: How often do you watch the British version, or do you not anymore? BJN: My little brother is just getting into it. He loves our show, and he's a little troubled at how good the British show is. He just started it a week ago, and he was like, "Man, I'm glad I didn't see this before!" WC: But I think if you watch both of them in tandem, you really start to see the differences. What do you think the main differences are? BJN: Well, one difference recently that I think will work well for our show over time -- which is not something they had to concern themselves with -- is that we are seeing Michael be a good boss, too. We are seeing his strengths, and I think that actually may make his comedy resonate more in the long run, because he is more making fun of every boss, because he is a more typical boss who does these terrible things rather than a boss so dismally bad at his job that you can dismiss him out of hand. That's definitely different from theirs. WC: I don't think we ever saw David Brent being even kind of competent. BJN: He was also fired almost immediately after the show started, you know, which is obviously something that we didn't intend to do. I like to think that we have slightly better colours and better camera angles than last year, and I like to think that that's because documentaries, in general, are better made than they were five years ago, getting a little more well-made every year, and our documentary would be made not like Laguna Beach, but more like hit documentaries. So I think a very good justification for the show being brighter and more accessible is that documentaries aren't as drab as they were when the British Office came out in 2001. What have you noticed? WC: I think the biggest differences to me are that in the British version, and I think in a lot of British comedy, the comedy comes out of people feeling awkward, which obviously is a big part of the U.S. version too, but I think that the British version is even more uncomfortable to watch. There have been plenty of times watching the U.S. version where I can't look at what Michael's doing because it's horrible, but I feel like the UK version does that more. And the U.S. version, I think, does a more credible job in portraying relationships. [Glark]'s point is that as much as he liked watching the Tim/Dawn interaction, he never really completely bought it, whereas I think Jim/Pam works much better.

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The Office




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