Long before B.J. Novak brought his wit to the little screen as a writer and actor on the hit comedy “The Office,” he and his high school buddies pulled a prank for the ages at the Museum of Fine Arts.
It was 1997 and the big exhibit at the MFA that summer was “Tales From the Land of Dragons.” Like most big shows at the museum, the exhibit featured a self-guided audio tour. Well, that got Novak and his friends thinking.
“We thought, ‘Let’s take a tape, transcribe it with everything on the tour, then make our own tape. And put that tape at the museum.’ So we stole a tape,” Novak said. “The first three minutes of the tape were completely accurate … but about 3 minutes in, the tour started getting a little weird. The guy started injecting his personal opinions. He’d say, ‘Personally I think this painting is a piece of crap,’” Novak recalled, using a heavy, vaguely Eastern European accent and laughing along with the audience.
“Quietly remove the glass and inhale the rich aroma of the paint,” the faux narrator said. “Ah, that is good stuff!”