How B.J. Novak Reinvented the List by the Forward

How B.J. Novak Reinvented the List

Image by List App Inc.

List making just got sexier, snarkier and a whole lot more fun. You can thank B.J. Novak for that.

The writer, actor and producer, best known for playing Ryan Howard on “The Office,” teamed up with Dev Flaherty to create, an open forum for users to write lists on any topic they’d like.

To give you a better idea — a quick scroll through the app right now pulls up the following trending pieces: “10 People I Don’t Believe Have Digestive Systems” and “Cars My Mom Has Tried To Get Into That Are Not Hers.”

It’s a corner on a market not yet explored, and on recent night last week, Novak took it a step further.

Seated on stage with Nicholas Kraft, the app’s Director of Audience Development, Novak called up his favorite list makers of the moment, a mish mosh of celebrities (musician Jack Antonoff and director Richard Curtis made appearances) and internet users, to share their lists in front of a packed audience at The Bell House, a bar in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

In the spirit of the event (and because now I’m feeling particularly list-y) here’s a round up of the night’s best moments.

1)Summer Anne Burton, Executive Creative Producer at Buzzfeed, suggested a porn app in the vein of Spotify, where you can view porn through “the searches/preferences of someone you like.”

This one was filed under Burton’s list of “Startup/app Ideas I’ve Had Inspired by My Obsessive Romantic Nature.”

Definitely intriguing, but, as my friend and I decided in earnest after, the findings could be very problematic.

Kraft was optimistic though. “We’ll all have ‘nice Jewish girl’ in our porn searches.”

2)She also suggested a toggle for Instagram so you don’t accidentally like a picture of someone you’re stalking.

Immediate groans of approval throughout the audience on this one.

3)Antonoff revealed he always requests a machete and four young coconuts for his dressing room.

The machete is to open up his coconuts.

4)Novak referenced Harry Potter’s exact birth date…

…and I immediately hoped that he was the one writing all those Harry Potter references into “The Office” over the years.

5)Speaking of “The Office.”

Richard Curtis noted his son’s obsession with the show, including his very emotional reaction after the finale.

“He watched all 200 episodes and I came into his bedroom one night, after he had watched the last one, and he was crying because he realized it was all over and he would never see them again.”

I liked this because I also cried.

6)Also worth noting, Curtis is snarky in exactly the way you hope he’d be.

The mastermind behind “Notting Hill,” “Love Actually” and just about every movie you’ve seen that makes you want to move to England, took a pause between reading his list to point to Kraft, seated on a stool next to him and referred to him, in his crisp English accent, as a “chubby Ryan Gosling.”

Admittedly, Kraft did look a lot like Ryan Gosling, but was definitely in no way chubby. Novak quickly fumbled to his co-host’s defense, and Curtis, looking quite pleased with himself, proceeded to make the joke several more times throughout the night.


Thea Glassman

Thea Glassman

Thea Glassman was an associate editor for the Forward. Follow her on twitter @theakglassman .

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