It’s not every day that a coach from “The Voice” gets made a fool of on national TV. But it does happen.
Most people recognize B.J. Novak for his role as Ryan Howard on the hit NBC sitcom, “The Office.” He was also a writer and producer for the show. But before he got his big break, Novak worked with Ashton Kutcher on the MTV show Punk’d.
For those who don’t remember the meaner version of “Candid Camera,” Punk’d set up celebrities to be made fools of, for the world to see. Sometimes the celebrities took it in stride when Kutcher popped out of the shadows to reveal that they had just been tricked. Others got seriously angry.
Novak was one of the actors on Punk’d who helped to trick celebrities with false, and often hilarious, scenarios. In fact, it was his first real job on television. On a recent episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Novak recalled how one of the celebrities who was the angriest at him for the charade was former ‘Voice’ coach and R&B superstar, Usher.
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Usually a family member, a friend, or a colleague was in on the joke with Kutcher, Novak and the rest of the Punk’d team. In Usher’s case, it was his little brother. Usher was called to a clothing store by Novak, who was posing as a sales clerk. Usher was told that his brother had been caught shoplifting and that he needed to take care of it.
As Novak explained on The Late Show, “The only way I would let the brother go is if [Usher] recorded a rap jingle for my store, which I rapped for him. And he was like, ‘First of all, I’m not a rapper. Second of all, why does it refer to ice?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, we wanted Vanilla Ice.'”
When Colbert and the audience burst into laughter, Novak explained, “It’s a well written show – I didn’t write the joke.”
The ‘Office’ star went on to say, “He’s furious and then Ashton comes out, and he’s like, ‘Bro!’ And it’s like a huge hug.” Novak thought he would be forgiven as well and held his arms out for a hug from Usher, but got turned down flat. Novak relayed, “Usher was like, “’No, no, no, no.’ Like, your first impression of someone sticks, you know. So, I have not run into Usher since. I don’t think he’ll be in my next movie.” Novak is currently a director working on a project called “Vengeance.”
Usher is Following in Novak’s Footsteps
While he might not be over what Novak did to him on Punk’d, Usher has recently taken a page out of Novak’s book and gone behind the scenes. The multi-Grammy winner has signed on to be a co-executive producer of “Storyville,” an upcoming TV show about the birth of jazz and the red-light district in New Orleans.
According to Revolt, Usher described the show as “an epic tale sparked by the origins of the sound that inspired my career – a story that touches the nerve of social and cultural relevance today.” More than likely, B.J. Novak will not be asked to participate.