The Spectacular Mr. Novak

Because the deal with his investors hasn't been signed yet, B.J. Novak '01 can't say too much about his plans for after college.

"But," he says, "don't be surprised if there's a blimp crash."

Surprise is his business. Venture capitalists are paying the young comedian to make pranks-and they're not interested in joy buzzers and fake vomit. Novak's at work on a new business, designing large-scale hoaxes that will seize national media attention to spotlight a sponsor's name.

With financing from the New Millennium Entertainment Fund and a long history of making public spectacle at Harvard, he's got the money and the experience.

His plans are big, they often explode, and if all goes according to his design, he will loose his new strain of comedy-a blend of disaster, stunt, and circus-onto the airwaves.

With a variety show that's a Harvard cult phenomenon, investors' cash in his pocket, and a spot at the podium for the Class Day Ivy Oration, Novak's reputation around campus has gotten big, and whether public nuisances or the next big thing in comedy, his spectacles are getting bigger.

The Huckster and His Hoaxes