March 16, 2021
EP. 69 — Dinner Party
This week we’re breaking down Dinner Party! Michael finally outsmarts Jim and Pam forcing them to come over to his condo for dinner. Steve Carell reads this week’s summary, and we hear from Melora Hardin, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms, Beth Grant and director Paul Feig on what it was like to be a part of this infamous episode. The ladies also discuss the writer’s strike, which scene was the hardest to get through without laughing and a gassy car incident. So put that Osso Buco in the oven, turn off your tiny plasma TV and curl up on your bed bench to enjoy the behind-the-scenes magic of this amazingly cringey episode.
69 — Dinner Party
Jenna [00:00:03] I’m Jenna Fischer.
Angela [00:00:04] And I’m Angela Kinsey.
Jenna [00:00:06] We were on The Office together.
Angela [00:00:07] And we’re best friends.
Jenna [00:00:08] And now we’re doing the ultimate Office rewatch podcast just for you.
Angela [00:00:12] Each week we will break down an episode of The Office and give exclusive behind the scenes stories that only two people who were there can tell you.
Jenna [00:00:19] We’re the Office Ladies.
Hunter [00:00:25] You took me by the hand. Made me a man. That one night you made everything all right.
Angela [00:00:40] Oh, that one night, baby, that night.
Jenna [00:00:45] I have tears in my eyes because I am so excited. You know what that song means.
Angela [00:00:51] That means…
Jenna [00:00:53] It’s time for a Dinner Party.
Angela [00:00:56] Oh, my gosh, I’m so excited. You and I watched this episode so many times over and over this week. And I’m telling you, I loved it every single time.
Jenna [00:01:06] Angela, my husband Lee, had never seen this episode.
Angela [00:01:11] How is that possible? That is crazy.
Jenna [00:01:14] I got to watch it with a person who’s never seen it. I thought he was going to choke. He was laughing so hard, especially during the condo tour, he couldn’t catch his breath.
Angela [00:01:25] Well, my whole family had to watch it over and over. Each one of them watched it with me once.
Jenna [00:01:30] Guys, it is Season four, Episode 13, written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, directed by Paul Feig, arguably maybe the best episode of The Office.
Angela [00:01:44] Definitely one of the most memorable. Every time Jenna and I are doing interviews or talking about the show, this is an episode we are always asked about. I feel so honored that I got to be at that awkward dinner table. What a great lifelong memory. And we have some really special things for you today.
Jenna [00:02:05] Starting with the summary. I’m not reading the summary today, Angela.
Angela [00:02:10] Oh, no, no, no, no. You know who needs to read the summary? The host of the dinner party himself…
Jenna [00:02:17] Mr. Steve Carell.
Steve Carell [00:02:20] You are cordially invited to Michael and Jan’s condo for a last minute, couples only dinner party. Attendance is limited. We only have six wine glasses. Join Jim and Pam, Angela and Andy and eventually Dwight and his former babysitter for an evening of drinks, games, music, candles, osso buco and a home tour like no other. Snip, snap, snip, snap. Let’s get to it.
Jenna [00:02:47] Yeah!
Angela [00:02:47] Woo hoo! Thank you, Steve Carell, for reading our summary.
Jenna [00:02:52] So, guys, we were a little nervous about this one because it is such a big episode. We wanted to really do a good job.
Angela [00:03:01] And there is so much to cover. So Jenna and I reached out to all of the guests of the dinner party and also to our writers and our director, Paul Feig. And everyone is sending in audio clips.
Jenna [00:03:13] Let’s get started. Fast fact number one. This episode was written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg. I spoke with both of them, Angela. Gene told me that the inspiration for this episode was the Edward Albee play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Now, if you guys don’t know this play, it is amazing. And it is about a crazy older married couple who invites a younger couple from their work over for a dinner party. And it’s just this insane evening.
Angela [00:03:45] It completely goes off the rails.
Jenna [00:03:48] There is a movie version starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton that is crazy good. You can check it out. If you liked this episode, you’ll like that movie. Here’s a little fun fact from Lee Eisenberg. The original working title for this episode was, Who’s Afraid of Jan Levinson Gould? Which makes total sense to me because Jan Levinson Gould really brings it.
Angela [00:04:10] She scared the bejesus out of me in this episode. There are a few moments where she looks at Pam where I was like, I would not want to be Pam today.
Jenna [00:04:18] For sure. Gene told me that they were assigned this script right before the writers went on their summer hiatus in June of 2007. So, guys, we would go on this little hiatus every summer and the writers could go off and write episodes. Normally, writers only got one week to write an episode, but because they were on hiatus, they had three weeks to work on this episode. I mean, they only got paid for one, but they said they couldn’t put it down. They just kept adding details and details. They use their whole hiatus to write it.
Angela [00:04:54] I mean, I think it shows. I don’t want to change the whole structure of how we do television. Maybe we should all get three weeks for a script just sayin.
Jenna [00:05:02] So we had a fan question for Megan W and Meredith H who want to know what everyone’s initial reaction to this episode was when we did the table read. Oh, guys.
Angela [00:05:13] One of the first people I reached out to was Melora and she responded immediately. Here is Melora’s reaction to getting the script.
Melora Hardin [00:05:23] When I read the dinner party episode, I was definitely just blown away. I was on the floor laughing and really felt like it was going to be so much fun. I just couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it. It just felt like, you know, all of the wonderful, unhealthy and completely dysfunctional elements of Jan and Michael kind of coming to a head. And I couldn’t really wait to dive in and get going.
Jenna [00:05:51] Angela, Gene told me that during the table read of this, he sweated through his shirt. He said it started off a little quiet because the episode is pretty dark, but that by the end when the cop says, “not now, Dwight”, the whole room just erupted into laughter. And afterwards Greg Daniels came up to him and Lee and said, “this script was perfect.”.
Angela [00:06:20] Wow.
Jenna [00:06:22] So Gene reminded me that before he and Lee got their jobs on the office, Gene had been working part time as Harold Ramis’ nanny. And Lee was a temp at HBO. And he just said Greg changed our lives. So hearing from this man who was our mentor telling us we nailed it, it was the highest compliment he ever received as a writer.
Angela [00:06:46] I bet that means so much to them. You know, Jenna, here’s what I remember about this table read. I do remember this build. It started and it just took over the room. People were laughing and then laughing and then really laughing. And by the end, the final line of the script, everyone started applauding. And I remember the applause lasted for like a minute.
Jenna [00:07:12] Yeah.
Angela [00:07:12] It must have felt so amazing for Gene and Lee to see their hard work just have that kind of adoration in the moment.
Jenna [00:07:21] We’ll get this, guys. I guess the folks at NBC did not love this script.
Angela [00:07:28] Oh, no.
Jenna [00:07:29] After the table read, Greg had a phone call with NBC.
Angela [00:07:35] Uh oh.
Jenna [00:07:35] When we asked Rainn Wilson about this episode, he talks about that phone call.
Rainn Wilson [00:07:40] Dinner Party. It is one of the top three all time great Office episodes. It’s absolutely extraordinary. It’s a pretty dark episode, and after the table read, I heard a story from Greg Daniels that the network was like, umm that’s a very dark episode. And Greg was like, yes, yes, it is. Like and we sure we want it so dark? And Greg was like, yep. And they were like, OK. And then we proceeded.
Angela [00:08:15] You know, I feel like if this episode had come earlier in our run, maybe it wouldn’t have happened, right? Maybe NBC would have given notes and Greg would have maybe had to sort of pick his battles. But at this point, our show was so established and critically acclaimed and had won awards. I feel like Greg was able to confidently say to them, like, yeah, this is the show, this is how it’s written and we’re going to do it.
Jenna [00:08:39] Gene and Lee told me that they did not do a rewrite on this script.
Angela [00:08:43] Wow. You guys, all of our episodes, as amazing as they were, would go through several rewrites. That’s just kind of how a script comes to be. So for this to not have a single rewrite, that is amazing.
Jenna [00:08:57] Yeah. So we had this amazing script. We’re all ready to shoot this amazing episode. And then we got shut down because of the writers’ strike.
Angela [00:09:08] Yeah.
Jenna [00:09:09] For four months we had to wait.
Angela [00:09:12] It was just a very surreal time because so many shows that shut down did not come back. They weren’t able to survive the strike. And the fact that we were able to come back and we knew we had scripts waiting for us was huge. But it was really important for us as a cast that we stand with our writers and support them.
Jenna [00:09:33] Gene and Lee said it was really surreal because they went from writing this to episode, having this table read, to picketing their own set.
Angela [00:09:43] Yeah.
Jenna [00:09:43] And it was so, so bizarre. But we shut down. This leads me to fast fact number two.
Angela [00:09:49] Mm hmm.
Jenna [00:09:50] Fast fact number two is that Paul Feig directed this episode, but he almost did not direct this episode.
Angela [00:09:59] I couldn’t even imagine if it wasn’t him.
Jenna [00:10:01] I know. I know. Well, when we reached out to him, he told us how this came about.
Paul Feig [00:10:09] I had been brought on and I directed a lot of episodes of The Office. But in that season, I had been given Survivorman, which I was really excited about. And actually I’m very, very proud of that episode. But I remember reading the script for the Dinner Party and it was given to some other director. And I was so jealous because I thought, like, if only I could do this episode. This is like everything I want to do. It’s so uncomfortable and cringey and hilarious. But another director was assigned to it. But then the writers strike happened and so it all fell apart because I did Survivorman and then the writers strike stopped everything. And so we were off for months and months and months for however long the writers strike went. And my great joy was at the end that, everything shifted. So much so, that director who was supposed to do the Dinner Party wasn’t able to. And so it came back around to me. And so I was so excited to do that episode. I just saw it so clearly in my head and it was just so funny to me. But the crazy thing about that episode was once we did it and we knew it was so funny, the audience, the loyal Office audiences hated it. It was a really a very divisive episode because I think it was so uncomfortable and so cringey that people couldn’t deal with it. And I remember like, we were so excited, all of us, all the writers, everybody, we were so excited because we really thought this was kind of like one of the best things the show could do. And we were kind of all bummed out that people were so weird about it. But I think the whole thing was it was so uncomfortable that the first time you watch it, you almost can’t handle it. But once you watch it a second and third and fourth and however many times you watch it, then it becomes fun because, you know, it’s coming, you know it’s going to be terrible, and you just can enjoy the cringiness. And so I could not be prouder of that episode. It’s really, you know, I won a DGA directing award for it, which is the only time I’ll ever get an award for anything. But I just think it’s the funniest thing in the world.
Jenna [00:12:07] I remember the fan response to this episode was not overwhelmingly positive when the show first aired.
Angela [00:12:15] Yeah, I remember even within my own extended family, they either loved it or they hated it.
Jenna [00:12:22] Yes, very strong reactions. It has grown to be beloved. It was not beloved when it first aired. You know, I don’t know who this other director was that was supposed to direct this episode, but Gene told me that this person had never directed a single camera comedy ever, that this episode would have been their first one.
Angela [00:12:42] Oh, my Lord.
Jenna [00:12:44] Now, maybe it was a big time movie person, you know, and they’d just never done half hour TV before. I am so glad that we got Paul Feig.
Angela [00:12:53] Yeah. I mean, you don’t want the Dinner Party script to be your first time at single camera comedy.
Jenna [00:13:00] If I were that person, I wouldn’t sleep.
Angela [00:13:02] Yeah.
Jenna [00:13:03] No. Fast fact number three, Angela, we know that the writers strike provided us with Paul Feig. It also provided us with a problem. In the form of your giant belly.
Angela [00:13:15] I was wondering when you were going to bring that up.
Jenna [00:13:17] I’m not the only person bringing up your belly, Angela, because when we asked Paul Feig about his memories of shooting this episode, he discussed it.
Angela [00:13:26] Oh, no.
Paul Feig [00:13:28] One of my favorites is how we had to desperately hide Angela’s pregnancy during it because she was very late, late stages. And so you’ll notice a lot of her carrying flowers and things in the foreground and then a pillow on her lap when she’s sitting on the couch. I think we had a big giant overcoat, too, so. So that was fun. It was very challenging uh doing special effects with no special effects.
Jenna [00:13:55] So Angela, we also got mail about your belly from Suzy S Alex G and Emma O.
Angela [00:14:01] Oh, no, ladies.
Jenna [00:14:03] They want to know how far along were you in your pregnancy and what kind of meeting was there for hiding Angela’s baby bump in this episode? Please tell us everything.
Angela [00:14:13] Well, ladies, if memory serves me, we filmed this episode in early March. Now, you have to remember, when we did The Deposition, I was barely showing. Four months have gone by into my pregnancy. I had my baby early May. So it was a belly. It was a full on a baby belly. And I do remember poor Paul Feig- he’s the sweetest person- coming up to me and being like, Hey, Angela. So we’re going to have you stand behind the copier. We’re going to have you hold this pillow. We’re going to have you hold a purse. We’re going to have flowers. We’re going to have a wall you stand behind. There were like all of these things. There were actual meetings about how to hide my belly. And then when we started filming, I remember tucking behind the copier and Matt Stone, our camera operator, saying, I can still see it, Ange. And I was like, what? So now there was this new dialog I had with the camera operators where they’d be like, back it up a little, pivot, pivot like duck, hold it higher. We had this whole language of the belly hide.
Jenna [00:15:18] Am I correct that in that scene when you first enter the condo and Michael and Jan are trying to take your coats, you don’t take off your coat because you needed it to hide your belly?
Angela [00:15:27] Oh, yeah. And my coat was enormous. It’s like not a coat I would ever wear. It was so big. But yeah, I have a lot of track the belly moments for this episode that I can sprinkle in as we go, but we had to get creative. It was a big belly. One day, no belly next day, big belly. That’s what happened during the writers’ strike.
Jenna [00:15:47] Well, guys, those are my fast facts. I think we should take a break and we will be back with a Dinner Party and more audio clips from our dinner guests.
Angela [00:15:56] Light your candles, get your osso buco going. We’re about to have a dinner party.
Jenna [00:16:05] We are back, we are at the office. It’s a Friday night, we’re working late.
Angela [00:16:11] Oh, there’s a special assignment from corporate, which we never find out what the special assignment is like, really and truly. How creative did Michael Scott have to get that he was able to con the whole bullpen?
Jenna [00:16:25] Yeah, everyone shuffling papers, they’re looking at things. What are we doing? What do we think the assignment is? It seems like we’re doing stuff.
Angela [00:16:34] I feel like this is Michael’s smartest moment, that he came up with a special assignment that everyone believed.
Jenna [00:16:41] Yeah.
Angela [00:16:42] At thirty six seconds, Jenna, is when Jim knows. I believe this is when Jim knows because Michael gets on the phone to corporate and he’s like, it’s not fair to these people. These people are my friends and I care about them. Like who talks like that to corporate.
Jenna [00:16:59] I know.
Angela [00:17:00] Jim knows. But people are grumbling, they’re griping. And there is a great deleted scene. It’s a whole runner with Toby. Toby is sharing that he’s so bummed out because he had tickets to Tom Petty.
Jenna [00:17:15] What?
Angela [00:17:15] Yeah. And Toby had to give them to his ex-wife and her new boyfriend.
Jenna [00:17:21] Oh, no.
Angela [00:17:24] So, yeah, everyone is kind of like, they’re bummed out. Why are they staying so late? And then Michael proudly walks in because he’s had this phone call and he’s like, you know what? You don’t have to stay late. I told corporate we’re not doing it. Everyone can go home. And they’re like, wow, thank you, Michael.
Jenna [00:17:41] Yeah. And then he turns to Jim and he says, hey, you want to come have dinner at our place tonight? I know you have no plans.
Angela [00:17:51] Oh, and Jim’s like you got me. Yeah.
Jenna [00:17:54] Yeah.
Angela [00:17:55] Well, there’s a series of deleted talking heads where people talk about their ideal dinner party, and there is one by Michael Scott that really cracked me up. Sam, can we play that?
Michael Scott [00:18:07] My ideal dinner party, easy. Jim, Pam, Ryan, the Mayor, Barack Obama, Shiloh Jolie Pitt, because at the end of the night, Brad or Angelina would have to come and pick him up and I would get to meet them. Shia La Beef because of Disturbia. Um all of the children of the world, Val Kilmer, but he probably wouldn’t come, too famous. Obviously, George Clooney. Um… And Jan, definitely, if there was room.
Angela [00:18:47] Michael would invite all of the children of the world, Val Kilmer, definitely George Clooney, but only Jan if there was room.
Jenna [00:18:55] Well, that tells you everything you need to know.
Angela [00:18:57] Right? And I feel like they deleted that because it was tipping his hand too soon. Right?
Jenna [00:19:05] Well, now we have a very sad talking head from Dwight that ends with just crying.
Angela [00:19:11] He’s so sad he hasn’t been invited.
Jenna [00:19:13] Yeah.
Angela [00:19:14] I thought Rainn was so funny in this talking head. He really made me laugh. Bless his heart.
Jenna [00:19:20] All right, lady, it’s time to go to the condo.
Angela [00:19:22] All right. So Pam and Jim arrived to the condo. It’s already awkward. And this is going to be a comedy sprint to the end. It’s just going to be one joke after the next.
Jenna [00:19:34] Well, it starts with both Michael and Jan trying to hug Jim at the same time. And then I don’t know if you noticed, but only Michael hugs Pam. Jan does not even go in for a hug.
Angela [00:19:46] Oh, I noticed. And then she throws you some serious shade about the wine you brought. She’s like, Oh, thank you so much, this will be great to cook with, which you guys know is code for. Thanks for the crappy wine.
Jenna [00:19:58] Exactly. Angela Gene told me that one of their goals in this episode was that it would just be loaded with a ton of subtle, passive aggressive comments and coded language and that this dig at Pam about the wine was the first. Gene also told me that this moment was inspired by the fact that he and Lee were roommates when they first started writing on the show and that Lee Eisenberg is an amazing cook. He referred to him as a gourmont.
Angela [00:20:31] What?
Jenna [00:20:32] Yeah, and one time Gene saw Lee cooking with some wine, which was something that Gene did not know you could do. His actual words were, it blew my mind.
Angela [00:20:42] He’s such a dude. Of course you can cook with wine.
Jenna [00:20:46] Well, I guess Lee explained to him that it has to be a cheap wine and that always stuck in his head that you cook with cheap wine. And that’s why he gave that line to Jan.
Angela [00:20:56] Well, it’s perfect.
Jenna [00:20:57] Ba be. Should we take a tour, babe?
Angela [00:21:00] Yeah, babe. Oh, I’m so sorry about this horrendous carpet. We’re work in progress. I call this the mask wall, babe. Oh, we watched this episode a lot, but it’s so good.
Jenna [00:21:13] This home tour really kicks off all of the Jan and Michael dynamics in this episode. And when we asked John Krasinski about his memories of this episode, he talked about this scene of Jim and Pam arriving and then starting the tour.
John Krasinski [00:21:30] That episode was without a doubt, one of my favorite to ever shoot, because there was this incredible energy on set, this idea that we were finally getting to pull the curtain back on the world of Michael Scott. And I think that for me, I was already almost laughing in every scene because of how Steve was playing his character. There was this unbelievable beaming of pride and joy to have these two people finally in his home after what I imagined to be a lifetime of hoping and wishing that it could be possible one day. And here they were. And not only were they in his home, he was able to give them a tour. And then the battling dichotomy of Michael’s excitement and Jan’s sort of weighty judgment of his house and his excitement was all loaded into every scene.
Jenna [00:22:26] It’s so true.
Angela [00:22:27] So true, so well said, JK.
Jenna [00:22:30] We got a fan question, Angela, from Cameron W., Linda M., and Monica J., did you guys actually film in someone’s house?
Angela [00:22:39] Oh, yeah. There was a man that owned this condo.
Jenna [00:22:43] Yeah, it was a condo in Woodland Hills, California. And I remember they told me they had to take out all of that man’s furniture and repaint his walls, and then they had to put it all back the way he had it. And that blew my mind.
Angela [00:22:59] I know in The Deposition DVD commentary Ed talked about this for a minute, he said when they filmed in the garage this man’s belongings, there were some of them that they just shoved all into one corner and they were like, what is this guy about? Because guess what he had?
Jenna [00:23:17] What?
Angela [00:23:17] He had all of these professional ping pong player posters!
Jenna [00:23:22] What?
Angela [00:23:23] Yes! And they had just had all this ping pong in The Deposition. So they were like, oh, my gosh. And they recognized some of the names because of Dwight’s talking head. And he said, in addition to all the professional ping pong posters, he had a professional ping pong table that was folded up and sort of wedged in the corner.
Jenna [00:23:41] Wow. So this guy obviously was a ping pong enthusiast. We know that.
Angela [00:23:46] Maybe he was an amateur uprising, professional ping pong player.
Jenna [00:23:50] Maybe he was a champion. We don’t know.
Angela [00:23:52] We don’t know. But, yes, he had to move all of his stuff out and cram a bunch of stuff into the corner of the garage. And then we had to put it all back for him.
Jenna [00:24:01] Well, we asked Paul Feig about designing the condo for Michael and Jan, and here is what he had to say.
Paul Feig [00:24:10] For Michael and Jan’s condo, I had had the benefit of being the person, the director who got to do office Olympics, which was where we established Michael and Jan’s condo when he bought it. And so, you know, found this very kind of stark, normal cookie cutter kind of condo that he would have with very stark white walls and all that. And that was really fun. So when I was lucky enough to get to do this episode and go back to their whole concept of what Jan would have done with that place was really fun to play with. And I remember, Lee and Gene and I got really hung up on the idea that she had a Warhol. I think they even put it into the script, but that she had done it like a Warhol esque print of herself. Which you only see briefly when they’re in the hallway I think when Jim and Pam first arrive and you see it in the stairwell when they go to the infamous candle room and it’s like this quad Warhol style picture of Jan. But I just love the idea that we had to show off how Jan had fixed up the place, but also the idea that Jan had done it, even though she tried to warm it up, it was kind of very cold. So we were hung up on the idea of like really like dark gray walls and what art she would have put up. And I was very, very hung up on the idea of them putting up that Jan put up a kimono on the wall, which I had seen somewhere, and thought, oh, that’s kind of a cool decoration, but it’s also not terribly warm at the same time. And so that made me laugh.
Jenna [00:25:41] I have to add another little tidbit, Angela, is that I guess they put up a bunch of photos you can’t really tell when you’re watching, but they are all photos of Jan and other men. There are no photos of Jan and Michael.
Angela [00:25:56] And then there’s a lot of photos, I remember, of just Jan by herself.
Jenna [00:26:01] Yes.
Angela [00:26:01] Like in a frame like she has made it the Jan shrine.
Jenna [00:26:07] But I love that she has given it her touch but it’s in no way, homey.
Angela [00:26:13] No, it’s just really kind of cold. And Michael has no space that is his own, except maybe where all of his rejected furniture items have gone into the garage.
Jenna [00:26:22] Yeah, they take Pam and Jim on this tour and we learn that Jan has both an office space and a workspace because she can’t create in her office space.
Angela [00:26:33] And her desk in her office space looked like no one had ever sat there. It’s so sparse.
Jenna [00:26:38] Oh, at three minutes, 32 seconds, you can see that her desk chair still has the plastic cover on the arms.
Angela [00:26:45] Oh, my gosh. Fantastic.
Jenna [00:26:47] That was a little detail that Paul Feig had. He thought that would be funny. So he made them leave it on.
Angela [00:26:52] That’s great. They put so much thought into every little nook and cranny of that condo.
Jenna [00:26:57] Should we talk about the candle room?
Angela [00:27:00] Yes. I can’t imagine what that smelled like. It must have been so strong.
Jenna [00:27:07] Oh, lady. We got a lot of mail about it from Ross C., Sierra S., Ali E., and Emily D. Did the candle room actually smell like candles? Oh, yeah. It was a room full of multiple scented candles.
Angela [00:27:23] Well, I didn’t have to go in the candle room and thank goodness, because I was pregnant and so sensitive to smell, I probably would have been like bahhh. But Paul Feig spoke about the candle room. And here’s the audio clip.
Paul Feig [00:27:35] The candle room, we just knew that we wanted the candle room to be insane, and the big thing was like when you’re in there, it smelled crazy and it’s like, how do we do that? How do we put that across to an audience? Because one thing an audience can’t take in- the two things they can’t take in- the temperature of what’s happening and they can’t take in the smell of what’s happening. And so that’s why we have that shot of John Krasinski kind of like looking out the door and going, whoa like he can’t breathe because you just know it just stinks in there. But I really just loved how dense and terrible we made that room.
Angela [00:28:10] I loved John’s look to camera when he was gasping for air. It was so believable and funny and I don’t think that was probably an easy thing to convey. But he did it so well.
Jenna [00:28:22] So well. John and I talked with Paul before we shot that scene and he said, I want it to look like you guys are doing that thing when you walk into a stinky public restroom and you’ve taken like a deep breath before you walk in, you’re trying to hold it for as long as you can, and then you need air. So you’re just trying to take in the smallest amount of air that will get you through.
Angela [00:28:46] Yeah.
Jenna [00:28:47] So that’s what we were trying to do in that scene. Well, now they move into the master bedroom. Oh my gosh, there are so many delicious moments in this.
Angela [00:28:56] I do not know how you guys got through this. Well, I’m going to say that a lot through this episode because there are scenes that were just the four of you that are some of the funniest scenes I’ve ever seen. And I don’t know how you got through this one.
Jenna [00:29:08] This is the scene where for the longest time there’s just a camera on a tripod pointed at the bed.
Angela [00:29:15] Yeah.
Jenna [00:29:16] Which Jim and Pam clock immediately and so does the audience. And then Jan says, Michael, I told you to put that away. And then she swats him on the butt. It’s so uncomfortable.
Angela [00:29:27] She swats him on the butt.
Jenna [00:29:30] Yeah. And then we learn that Michael sleeps on a bench at the foot of the bed. And Angela, I can’t even tell you how hard we laughed every time Steve Carell curled up on that bench.
Angela [00:29:45] When he was like, No, I fit. Look, it’s actually pretty comfortable. And he just curls up like a baby on it. Well, Paul shared with us the inspiration behind the bench. And it’s so great. Here it is.
Paul Feig [00:29:58] So the whole thing with Michael and Jan and that weird bench that he sleeps on the end of the bed came from when I was working as a script reader in the early 80s for a Hollywood- big Hollywood producer. And I befriended this woman who worked in this company. And at one point we were hanging out and we went by her house to pick something up. And I went in to there and they have this open bedroom plan. And I looked and there was there was this giant bed, like a king sized bed. But the next to the bed was this little tiny cot. And I remember saying, like, oh, what’s that? And she got very serious. And she said, like, look, when you get in a relationship, you have to make sure that you’re able to be intimate with somebody and share things with them. And what it turned out was that when once they were done with their time together in bed, she had to roll off onto this cot and sleep by herself because this guy couldn’t handle having anybody else in his bed with him. And I just thought that was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And so I remember when we were scouting that location and there was that little stool at the end or that bench at the end of the bed, I can’t remember if it was in the script or if we took it and ran with it. But I remember saying to Lee and Gene, like we- I told them that story. I said, like, how funny we have to have this thing where Michael can’t sleep on the bed. And so that’s what we did. And I remember when we were shooting it, it made me laugh so much because, you know, the way that Steve Carell would curl up on that bench. And my whole thing was like, OK, we got to hang on this as long as we can. And so, you know, we have Jan going like, oh, he fits perfectly, hahaha. And the I just try to get every last frame out of everyone just staring at Michael on this bench and it’s silent and it’s just a completely uncomfortable and it makes me laugh still to this day.
Jenna [00:32:01] Now, lady, that clip suggests that maybe this was the condo guy’s bed and bench because he said when they scouted the location, they saw the bench or maybe just a bench and then we recreated it. But I have a bench at the end of my bed. No one sleeps on it. But this is a very popular thing.
Angela [00:32:24] I have an upholstered bench at the foot of my bed as well. It’s where I, like, sort of lay my robe at night, you know, I like kick off my slippers. I put my robe on the bench.
Jenna [00:32:33] Yeah.
Angela [00:32:33] And it’s all there for me in the morning. My bench could not fit a grown man. It’s a tiny little bench. I actually really looked at that bench and I was like, oh, they found a wide bench. That’s a substantial bench.
Jenna [00:32:47] Yes, exactly. It’s just big enough that you believe it, but still small enough that it’s just so sad.
Angela [00:32:55] Yeah. And also, just again, Michael has no space in his own home. She has both guestrooms she’s using and now he doesn’t even get to sleep in his bed. It’s so sad.
Jenna [00:33:09] It’s tragic. And now I’ve got a fun fact. This scene of the bedroom tour, specifically, this scene is John McCain’s favorite scene from The Office. And I can tell you why.
Angela [00:33:24] Yeah. How do you know that? That’s such a random tidbit to know.
Jenna [00:33:28] B.J. Novak was at a dinner party with John McCain. I would love to hear that story. How that came about, that’s fascinating to me.
Angela [00:33:36] That’s very on brand, though, for B.J. B.J. finds himself in these eclectic groups of people all the time. So this was, what, a few years ago? He’s at a dinner party. John McCain’s there.
Jenna [00:33:46] Yeah. You want to be BJ’s plus one to a dinner party because he’s going to take you to a cool group.
Angela [00:33:51] Yeah.
Jenna [00:33:52] He was at this dinner party and someone walked up to him and said John McCain is a huge fan of The Office. Would you like me to make an introduction? Now, I’ve experienced this, too, with politicians a lot of times politicians, they have a person whose job it is to whisper things in their ears that are really specific about the other guests at a party because they vetted everyone at the party so that when the politician meets you, they can say something really specific and personal.
Angela [00:34:21] It’s like the scene you guys in Devil Wears Prada, right. Anne Hathaway’s next to Meryl Streep. They’re at that big shindig in Paris. And she’s telling her every little person that walks up some little tidbit.
Jenna [00:34:32] Yes. So BJ was like, oh, he’s probably been told I work on the show called The Office and yada, yada. So B.J. was like, I’m going to put him to the test and I’m going to ask him specifically, John McCain, tell me one of your favorite scenes from The Office.
Angela [00:34:50] B.J.
Jenna [00:34:52] Right?
Angela [00:34:52] Oh, my gosh. OK.
Jenna [00:34:55] So when he met him, he did it. He said, what’s one of your favorite scenes? And John McCain said, I love that scene in the dinner party when they’re giving the house tour and they walk into the bedroom and the video camera’s up in the background and the bench. And he just went on and on with such great detail that B.J. knew, oh, this is for real. This guy does love The Office.
Angela [00:35:21] That’s so wild. It’s so specific.
Jenna [00:35:21] Yeah.
Angela [00:35:23] It’s such a specific scene.
Jenna [00:35:26] It was. Well, he picked a good episode and he picked a good scene because when I was watching this with my husband, Lee, this was the scene where I thought we were going to have to pause because he couldn’t catch his breath. He was like laughing so hard.
Angela [00:35:42] All right. Well, speaking of having to, like, pause to catch your breath because you’re laughing so hard, Jenna, up next is the scene with the tiny TV.
Jenna [00:35:52] Oh, my God.
Angela [00:35:53] The tiny plasma TV that only comes out two inches from the wall.
Jenna [00:35:58] There are two times when I laughed so hard on our show that I thought I wasn’t going to ever recover. This was one of them. Tears streaming down our face. We had a fan question from Maddie S., Paula T., Kennedy H. How many takes did you guys have to do when Michael was showing off his plasma TV. Guys, John Krasinski talks about this. I’m going to turn it over to him.
John Krasinski [00:36:27] When we got to the moment with the television, I think there was an energy in the room that was overwhelming. I was already quaking with laughter. It wouldn’t have taken much for me to laugh and then throw in maybe one of my favorite jokes in the entire show. And I remember at the table read laughing. But then to see Steve again with that beaming face of pride just turn to us and say, You won’t believe what what I have. And also look what it can do. When company comes over I can just do this. And I’m pretty sure that the distance between the TV and the wall was like an inch and a half. And he was so proud that it comes out to watch TV in the comfort of your own home and then you push it back a good inch and a half to hide it away when company comes. Luckily, the outtakes are out there in the world. And so you can see, I mean, Jenna can tell you, but I think that it took probably 19 or 20 takes before I was even able to stand up vertically in that scene without doubling over. And again, as I’ve always said, I’m a crier laughter. So when I laugh that hard, my entire face turns red with tears and the pressure that’s filling in my face for trying not to laugh and to no avail. I don’t know why I even try not to laugh. I should just let it out. And then my face wouldn’t turn beet red in every scene. That is without a doubt one of my favorite scenes and I will cherish that memory for the rest of my career.
Angela [00:38:16] You can hear him losing it, just retelling it, you know?
Jenna [00:38:20] Yes.
Angela [00:38:21] Well, Jenna one of my daughter’s favorite things since we’ve been doing Office Ladies is watching the bloopers. My daughter Isabel absolutely loves them. She watches them over and over. I think it’s so fun for her to see you and I laughing and and these people that she’s known, you know, since she was born, cracking up. So she actually helped me gather all the bloopers for this episode. She knew right where they were. She even knew time codes, Jenna.
Jenna [00:38:50] I love it. You’re passing along the love of time codes to Isabel.
Angela [00:38:54] I am. So I feel like we have to hear the blooper of this scene because it’s so wonderful. Sam, can you play that?
Steve Carell [00:39:02] I guess what surround sound means is that right over here, Jenna. Two speakers, we have two speakers. What? Honey. Oh, Jesus, this is terrible. We’ll never finish this episode. Check this out. Folds. (LAUGHTER) I’m sorry. Oh my God.
Jenna [00:39:39] Lady.
Angela [00:39:40] It makes me laugh just hearing it. It makes me crack up.
Jenna [00:39:41] Lady, Steve did a whole runner where they just let him go with this TV.
Angela [00:39:48] Oh man.
Jenna [00:39:50] And he tries to explain that the TV has surround sound and what he means by that is that the screen is surrounded by a speaker. The whole thing was, you’ve gone to someone’s house when they’ve just gotten their new TV system with their new sound speakers and they’re so excited to show it off. Maybe they even like play part of a movie for you, right?
Angela [00:40:14] Yes.
Jenna [00:40:15] That was the inspiration for this. And so Steve was going to bring that energy of like we were sitting in a professionally done-.
Angela [00:40:23] Home theater, right?
Jenna [00:40:25] Yes. But instead, he’s just talking about this tiny TV, which, by the way, is not even a plasma TV. It’s just a flat screen TV, but it keeps referring to it as a plasma TV. Oh, my God.
Angela [00:40:37] Jenna do you know what I love? Is that how this is still a joke with the cast. So a few years ago, you guys, we’ve talked about this before, we have a cast text thread where we will text and check in, say hello, little clips, pictures of our kids. Creed usually sings us a song at Christmas and he’ll text us, you know him at home with his like Elf hat on. And Jenna sent a photo to all of us. You were on a job and you walked in to like a little dressing room they had for you, and there was the tiniest TV mounted on the wall, Jenna. And you sent us a picture and we all started cracking up.
Jenna [00:41:13] Yes. I walked into this dressing room and I thought to myself, You could hold this in your hand. Why have they mounted it on the wall? It was so reminiscent of the dinner party episode. I was so excited to send that text and people were loving it.
Angela [00:41:32] It will never get old to me. That scene. I can watch it and watch it and watch it. But there are so many things in this living room that made me laugh on a second watch Jenna. And I also remembered it the day we were filming because I was seated by it, that janky side table that Michael made. It is the saddest looking people. It is so proud of it. It looks like scrap wood, like if you got a crate of firewood that he used the crate to make the table and the dialog cracked me up too. Jim is like, is that chestnut? And he’s like, I think it’s either pine or Nordic cherry. It’s like, what?
Jenna [00:42:14] Angela, it’s time for you to arrive at this dinner party.
Angela [00:42:17] Oh, Andy and Angela, here we come.
Jenna [00:42:20] We had a fan question from Haley M. Angela, are you starting to break when Michael goes in for the hug, which you refuse?
Angela [00:42:28] Yes. Yes. I pretty much, like John said, the minute I walked in that room and saw everything just the minute we started those scenes, I was already tickled. And everything from then on was just me trying not to laugh.
Jenna [00:42:44] I have a fun catch at six minutes, thirty four seconds. When Andy takes off his coat, underneath his coat, he is wearing a turtleneck with a shirt over it and then a sweater tied around his neck.
Angela [00:43:01] Oh yeah. He’s in prime preppy mode.
Jenna [00:43:04] This was a bit that Gene, our writer, came up with. He just thought it would be really, really funny to have a person who has tied a sweater around their neck take their coat off.
Angela [00:43:15] Yeah, he had that ready to go underneath. Well, you know, I said I would let you guys know when we had some belly hiding. It’s happening all through the episode. But one of my favorites is this giant bouquet of flowers. That was to hide my belly.
Jenna [00:43:29] Yes.
Angela [00:43:30] That’s how big my belly is. Look at that bouquet of flowers.
Jenna [00:43:34] They had to make the bouquet that big because the point of it was for Andy to give his hostess some flowers. But the reason they were so large was because they were a belly hide.
Angela [00:43:45] There’s a great blooper from this as well if you guys go back and re-watch them. But I have a little catch I want to point out.
Jenna [00:43:52] What is it?
Angela [00:43:53] At six minutes, 44 seconds, I’m standing next to John while Andy’s doing the tuna tuna bet you get a lot of tuna, eat a lot of tuna, that whole bit.
Jenna [00:44:02] Yeah.
Angela [00:44:03] I just as an actor, just my own little prep that I decided to do was I just stared at Jan’s boobs. I mean, I was eye level to them. She’s in heels. She’s taller than me. They’re right there. And I decided to throw her a little judgy shade. Angela Martin sass look. And Paul Feig came up to me and was like, oh, my gosh, Angela, I just caught on camera that you’re giving Jan’s boobs, the judgy look. He was like, you’ve got to do that every time. So I did. And it made it in the show. And it’s just one of those little moments that wasn’t scripted that ends up on the screen. And it’s always fun to relive those.
Jenna [00:44:37] But that is a big of course, Angela would do that moment like, of course. Right. I’m so glad they caught it. This is also when we find out, Angela, that the ossobuco will not be ready for at least three hours. And I love Pam’s line when she says, do you mean three hours from now or like three hours from four o’clock when you started it?
Angela [00:44:58] Jenna when I re-watch the scene, that is one of the lines that you say that is most like you in real life.
Jenna [00:45:05] It is.
Angela [00:45:06] It just felt like in that moment Jenna was saying it. As your friend. I was like, that would be Jenna. She’d be like, no, but you you planned ahead. Surely if you know it takes three hours, surely you would already estimated the time that you’d be serving it.
Jenna [00:45:20] I feel like that is something I could possibly say.
Angela [00:45:24] Yes.
Jenna [00:45:24] In response to a host.
Angela [00:45:26] Sometimes in Spain they eat at midnight. So when in Rome.
Jenna [00:45:30] When in Rome. I guess we’re going to sit around and drink some wine now. Michael makes a toast. He notes the oaky afterbirth of the wine. Gene told me that Steve improvised that line.
Angela [00:45:43] You’re kidding.
Jenna [00:45:45] Oaky afterbirth.
Angela [00:45:46] Oh, my gosh. Steve Carell.
Jenna [00:45:48] Well, now Jan needs to relax. She wants to put some music on.
Angela [00:45:55] Yeah.
Jenna [00:45:55] And I don’t know if you know this, but her former assistant Hunter is a fabulous musician. And so she’s going to put on his CD. It’s called The Hunted.
Angela [00:46:06] Yeah. And then she’s going to dance by herself in front of all of us.
Jenna [00:46:13] We got some fan mail about that. Amanda B., Illiana B., and Gabe G. said, please tell us everything about Jan’s dance. Well, I’ll start with this. Gene told me that after we did a few takes a Melora dancing on her own, he had the idea that she should try to pull Jim into the dance. So he got her aside and he gave her that note privately. John did not know that was going to happen. Melora just ran with it.
Angela [00:46:42] And we didn’t know either. And Jenna, when I re-watch that now, knowing that, right, because Gene shared that with you and then Melora talked to me about it, I watched our faces. Not only John’s, but I watched yours and mine because it was a surprise to all three of us. And you can really see a look on both of our faces of like, wha- wha- wha- what’s happening?
Jenna [00:47:04] That was perfect. Well, like Angela said, we did ask Melora about this and she told us the inspiration behind her dancing.
Melora Hardin [00:47:13] One of the most fun moments to play was the dancing with John Krasinski for the song that Hunter had written. It just felt like such a wonderful sort of jab at Michael, you know, so passive aggressive. And also I’m a dancer. So I really wanted to just be a little like off the beat. I wanted to make sure that I really tried hard to just be so inappropriate, but also just like a little bit off the beat, a little drunk, you know, kind of a little tipsy. And I felt like that would be even a better, you know, even a better jab to Michael because Jan and Michael are like at war at that point in the episode.
Jenna [00:47:54] I love that she’s a little off the beat.
Angela [00:47:57] Oh, yeah, Jan just doesn’t give a shit. You know, it’s so, like, crazy to think if you really think it through, that she would get up at this awkward dinner party and play a song her former lover wrote about her and him in front of all of them.
Jenna [00:48:18] Yes. Angela, we got so much mail about this song. Hannah H, Bri P, Brandy R, Miles W and Reagan C, they want to know who wrote and performed Hunter’s song on the CD. And is it evidence that Jan and Hunter had a love affair?
Angela [00:48:37] Yes. And do we think that Michael knew when she played the song?
Jenna [00:48:42] I’ll tell you guys, Gene and Lee wrote the words to the song. It was not sung by the actor who played Hunter. It was actually recorded and sung by Todd Fancy of The New Pornographers, who wrote the music as well. But get this, Gene told me that he only wrote a much longer version of the song with really cheesy lyrics. He said they worked on it for way too long, but they were just having so much fun writing this cheesy love song.
Angela [00:49:10] And they had three weeks, so they kept tinkering.
Jenna [00:49:13] Well, I guess Todd also recorded that extended version of the song and Gene sent me a link. And in the extended version, it is very clear that this song is about Jan. It is very clear that they have had sex at least once. So I had Sam pull a clip so we can hear this verse.
Hunter [00:49:33] People talk. Let ’em. Parent’s scowl, forget ’em. Corporate rules, F ’em. Cuz it ain’t up to ’em. It’s up to us. That one night you made everything alright.
Jenna [00:50:07] Angela, he says, corporate rules, F ’em. And also apparently his parents did not like this relationship because he also says he doesn’t care what his parents have to say about it either.
Angela [00:50:21] It’s hilarious. That version is also very produced with all the other instruments. I like the one that they picked because it was more simple.
Jan [00:50:28] Yes.
Angela [00:50:28] You know, and then I also love of course, Andy has to go (SINGS), that gets me every time.
Jenna [00:50:37] And that’s Ed, you guys. That was just Ed throwing that in there.
Angela [00:50:41] As the scene continues, my character throws you under the bus about the faxes. Jan is again not happy with you. I mean, I have to say, Angela Martin is really happy to have someone to judge Pam with.
Jenna [00:50:53] I know. To judge anyone with. Any time someone’s being judged. That’s the only time you speak.
Angela [00:51:01] That’s when I bond.
Jenna [00:51:02] Yes. Well, Pam is going to sneak away to the bathroom and she has a talking head. She does not care what people say about her. She just wants to eat. And she doesn’t think it’s a lot to ask at a dinner party.
Angela [00:51:13] Is she talking in the bathroom?
Jenna [00:51:16] Yeah. Here’s the crazy thing, Angela. So Pam has this talking head in the bathroom, and then Jim is going to have a talking head in the bathroom where he says the hosts are playing their own separate game of making their guests uncomfortable and they’re both winning. It’s great. John and I are in a real, very tiny guest bathroom.
Angela [00:51:36] That’s what I was going to ask. You know what it looks like, Jenna. It looks like that hall bathroom that a lot of homes have. It’s like the half bath, you know, it’s just like a toilet and a sink. And that’s it.
Jenna [00:51:47] It was a half bath. And it’s funny to me because I feel like this could have been something where you just put up, like, little fake walls around us. But no, we were in a real bathroom. It was so tiny in there. Paul Feig actually talks about this. Sam, will you play the clip?
Paul Feig [00:52:06] I’ll never forget being jammed into that tiny bathroom with Jenna and with John shooting those talking heads about them being uncomfortable. And we were all literally, I was up on a sink, I think it was Randall Einhorn was in there with a camera that he or Matt Sone. And we were just jammed in this tiny thing, shooting these talking heads. I never laughed so hard. I mean, my God.
Angela [00:52:28] Well, between these two talking heads in the tiny bathroom, there is a scene that got deleted. It’s between Jim and Pam. They are tucked in the hallway outside the bathroom door and Jenna Pam is eating a granola bar that she has, like, stashed away in her purse or something. And then, Jan busts you guys. She’s like, what are you guys eating? It’s so funny. And Jenna you guys were cracking up.
Jenna [00:52:51] We could not get through it. And by the way, I ate so much granola bar because Paul Feig was like Jenna, we have to believe that this is like the meal you’ve been waiting hours for. You’re so hungry. So I was so full of granola bar and we kept breaking being confronted by Melora with her intense eyes, it did me in. I couldn’t do it.
Angela [00:53:15] You were both, like, genuinely startled and scared each time. And then it just is hilarious.
Jenna [00:53:20] Well, in the living room, we’ve got this painfully realistic game of charades going on, a game of celebrity, really, if you know that game.
Angela [00:53:31] My, my, my turn! My, my, my turn. You will learn so much about a couple if you play any kind of charade or board game where you have to, like, give clues out loud. You really learn a couple. Jenna. When I re-watched this, I thought about a game of Taboo I played with another couple years ago and the guy turned to his wife and goes, Oh, oh, I call you this all the time. And she goes, Oh, stupid!
Jenna [00:54:02] No, Angela.
Angela [00:54:04] Yes. And the room was silent. And then when she got it, he was like yes.And they were like, woohoo and they were celebrating and we were all like, what, what what did we just learn? But this is that moment. This is what is happening. We see Michael and Jan trying to play a game and it is just so cringey.
Jenna [00:54:29] The amount of passive aggressive comments is incredible. And then Jim is totally messing with Michael.
Angela [00:54:36] Oh, I know.
Jenna [00:54:37] He knows that Michael is trying to give the clue Tom Cruise, but he refuses to say it. It’s so, so, so good.
Angela [00:54:46] And of course, Angela Martin knows no pop culture, so she’s no help. And Andy is horrible at giving clues.
Jenna [00:54:54] Terrible. Now, we have a moment coming up that was very controversial.
Angela [00:54:59] Is it when Jim tried to ditch you at the party?
Jenna [00:55:03] Yeah. Jim fakes a phone call from his landlord saying that his apartment is flooded, I guess, and he tries to get Pam to come with him to escape the party. He’s like, we got to go. We’re so sorry. But Michael is like, well, you guys don’t both need to go check on the apartment. And Jim is like, OK, great. Well, I’ll see you at home later then, Pam.
Angela [00:55:26] Yeah and Pam is like, excuse me, you can buy new stuff, but you can’t buy a new party.
Jenna [00:55:33] Yeah, we got a lot of mail about this moment. And Lee Eisenberg actually spoke about this in an interview with Office Talley back when the episode aired, because I guess after this aired on the East Coast, the message boards blew up with fan comments online. People were really, really mad that Jim would consider leaving Pam behind at this party. But Gene and Lee said they thought it was a really sweet, playful scene and it sort of was like like a mental chess match between Jim and Pam and that Pam ends up winning. And they thought Pam was the victor of this scene. But people could not get past the fact that for a moment Jim was willing to leave her there.
Angela [00:56:19] Well, that should tell you how bad the night was going. It didn’t really bump me because he included you in the beginning. It’s only when he was challenged that he was like, OK, well, I’m gone.
Jenna [00:56:30] Well, the evening has now dissolved into just silence. It’s just everyone sitting around saying nothing.
Angela [00:56:39] And how long have they been sitting there just in silence?
Jenna [00:56:43] I don’t know.
Angela [00:56:45] I mean, Jan is fully reclined with her head back and her eyes closed.
Jenna [00:56:51] Well, Pam gets a little chilly, so Michael offers her his jacket and this sets off Jan.
Angela [00:56:58] This scene is so brilliant. Melora and Steve are so amazing. But her look. The look Melora gives you and then slowly glances back over to Michael and then glances back to Pam and then you see her thinking and planning to say something embarrassing about him.
Jenna [00:57:22] The story Jan tells is that she’s very sorry it’s so chilly, but they’re having to have their sliding door replaced and you can see a big blue tarp over the door. And the reason is because Michael ran through the glass when he heard the ice cream truck.
Angela [00:57:42] Yeah, Jan’s like it’s a cute story. Michael ran through the sliding glass doors because he thought he heard the ice cream truck. And Michael’s like, stop it. I don’t like the story. OK, fine. Look, I like ice cream, so sue me. And then he’s like, wait, I shouldn’t say that because she will sue you because she loves lawsuits. And then he said the glass was extremely clean and I it was like it was invisible and she just erupts. She’s like, you’re so right. You’re so right. Because before I lived here, the glass was always covered in smudges. And then I moved in and I cleaned it. So I guess that makes me the devil. And then they’re both like crazy laughing with like crazy eyes. And he’s like, yeah, she is the devil. And it is, oh my God, it’s two people unhinged.
Jenna [00:58:31] Here’s what Gene told me about this scene, Angela. He told me that the theme of this episode was, quote, dinner party from hell. And the idea was that Michael is in hell and Jan is the devil. And so they did a lot of things toward this theme. For example, they designed Melora’s wardrobe so that she was dressed in red. And for this scene where they wrote that line, I guess I’m the devil. And then Michael responds, and I’m in hell. They purposely placed her in front of a roaring fire. And then in the room, they have all of her candles lit all around Michael, so that he does appear to be in the flames of hell. But Melora improvised that moment where she made little devil horns on her head, which is so, so funny. But, yeah, if you look around this apartment, there’s a ton of red stuff.
Angela [00:59:30] There is. And, you know, I caught at 11 minutes, five seconds that red pot like thing that she took when she was fired in The Job and it dropped out of the box and they had to put it back in the box. It’s seated next to her on the little table.
Jenna [00:59:46] Amazing detail. We’re about to go into the kitchen for some girls time and in the kitchen, all of her cookware is red. All of that was on purpose.
Angela [00:59:56] Well, let’s talk about this kitchen scene. Pam has wanted to break up the tension in the room. She’s like, is there more wine? And Jan’s like, no, no, no, I’ll get it. No, actually, let’s have some girl time, Angela, come on. And she takes them into the kitchen. Well, Jenna, there were a few scenes that we filmed us three gals in this kitchen. Only one made it into the episode. But there is another one and it’s great. Sam, can you play it?
Jan [01:00:20] So this girl that I basically grew up with becomes Miss West Virginia and then suddenly all the boys start paying attention to me. And it was funny because I never even considered myself beautiful until people started pointing it out to me. They were like, Jan, wow, you are so much more beautiful than Miss West Virginia. Oh, so that is why I- wait, Pam, what was your what was your question?
Pam [01:00:47] Where did you grow up?
Jenna [01:00:52] It’s incredible.
Angela [01:00:53] Isn’t it so good?
Jenna [01:00:55] Yeah.
Angela [01:00:56] She just goes off about Miss West Virginia and we’re just sitting there in silence and she’s chopping things. She clearly hates this woman.
Jenna [01:01:04] My question was, where did you grow up?
Angela [01:01:07] Yeah, and in the kitchen scene, you’ll notice I’m standing behind a little ledge by the counter. And I remember Paul Feig and I were so excited that there was a ledge in the kitchen. They didn’t have to build that. And I fit perfectly tucked into it so we could hide my belly.
Jenna [01:01:22] Well, while the ladies are having their time in the kitchen, Michael gives the guys a tour of the garage. He also uses this time to try to get them to invest in Serenity by Jan. Andy’s in. You don’t need to say more than a sentence to him.
Angela [01:01:38] This is my daughter’s favorite line in the whole episode is when he goes, thought about it, I’m in.
Jenna [01:01:44] Yeah.
Angela [01:01:44] Michael is like, do you want to invest ten thousand dollars into this candle business. Think about it. Thought about it. I’m in.
Jenna [01:01:53] Well when we asked Ed about his memories from shooting the dinner party, he talked about the first time he saw this garage. Sam, can you play that clip?
Ed Helms [01:02:05] At some point while we were shooting, I stepped off the set, I don’t I think I was probably just going to get a snack or something at craft service. And I walked through the garage of the condo where we were shooting, and the garage was also a location in the episode. They had done all the set decoration for the garage. And I noticed this amazing detail in there, which is that all of the items in Michael Scott’s garage were things that he had bought from infomercials like late night infomercials. And this was just like a background joke in the show. Like I remember seeing like a Bowflex and like a meat dehydrator, like all this random stuff. And it just made me laugh so hard and was such a reminder of how incredible The Office team was. Everyone at every level from production, design, set decoration, all those details, all of those people that worked on the show were so creative and contributing to the comedy of that show in a very big and very small ways. And it all made such a difference. Anyway, that’s one of my favorite details about that episode.
Jenna [01:03:10] Angela, I looked it up, so currently a Bowflex system starts around fifteen hundred dollars, but Michael had both a Bowflex and a Solo Flex. And a Solo Flex is like twenty four hundred dollars. And then like Ed said, like Meat Dehydrator, just any as seen on TV item was shoved into the space.
Angela [01:03:36] And really pricey stuff. There’s two boxes of Le Creusset like Dutch ovens. Those are so expensive, like at Williams-Sonoma. And it just kind of is that reminder of when Oscar sat down with him and said, what are you buying? What are you spending your money on?
Jenna [01:03:53] And I don’t know if you noticed, but there’s also just boxes labeled Michael’s stuff.
Angela [01:04:00] Yeah.
Jenna [01:04:01] So clearly Jan went through and just boxed up a bunch of his stuff and it’s out there living in the garage. So sad.
Angela [01:04:08] Oh yeah. You know, the two chairs by that fireplace were those two hand seats.
Jenna [01:04:14] That’s right.
Angela [01:04:15] But those aren’t in the living room anymore.
Jenna [01:04:18] Lady, I think we should take a break. We still have so much more to talk about.
Angela [01:04:23] Oh, my gosh. Dwight and the babysitter haven’t even showed up yet.
Jenna [01:04:27] Well, we will get to that right after this break.
Angela [01:04:34] Ding dong, oh, there’s two more guests. Jan is confused. Her whole dinner party is here, Michael is not. He knows who’s at the door. It’s Dwight and Melvina, his older babysitter from when he was a child.
Jenna [01:04:53] Oh, and don’t worry, they’ve brought two wine glasses and a cooler of food.
Angela [01:04:58] Yeah.
Jenna [01:04:58] Since they’re unexpected, they’ve got it covered, don’t worry.
Angela [01:05:01] And two lawn chairs, so they have a place to sit. The wine glasses are the biggest ones you’ll ever see.
Jenna [01:05:09] Yes, they are. This sets off an argument. Jan wants Michael to send them away, but Michael stands his ground.
Angela [01:05:18] Yeah. Michael’s like, listen, you said he couldn’t come because he didn’t have a plus one or we didn’t have enough wine glasses. Well, he brought the wine glasses and he brought another human.
Jenna [01:05:28] I know. I love that. He’s brought a person.
Angela [01:05:31] A person.
Jenna [01:05:32] So here we go.
Angela [01:05:34] And Jan is like, fine, have it your way. And Michael’s like, have it my way? When do things ever go my way?
Jenna [01:05:42] Yeah. When he wanted to see Stomp and she wanted to see Wicked. What did they see? Wicked. When she said she wasn’t ready to have children, what did Michael do? He had a vasectomy.
Angela [01:05:53] Then she decided I want kids. He had the vasectomy reversed.
Jenna [01:05:57] But then she changed her mind again. He had another vasectomy.
Angela [01:06:01] Snip, snap, snip, snap, snip, snap.
Jenna [01:06:02] Do you know the physical toll that three vasectomies takes on a person? Oh, all of this happens in front of all of us. There is so much to unpack about this scene, guys. So buckle in.
Angela [01:06:16] I mean, when we saw the bench, we thought it can’t get weirder than the bench. And then we played celebrity and now we’re standing in the hallway of the condo yelling about vasectomies. Where can it go?
Jenna [01:06:35] Let’s start with Dwight’s date. His former babysitter, Melvina. Angela, Gene told me that they thought it would be really fun to offer this role to our longtime casting director, Allison Jones.
Angela [01:06:48] But she said no.
Jenna [01:06:50] She refused. Greg wanted the incredible Beth Grant to play the role.
Angela [01:06:59] Well, yes, Greg had worked with Beth before and knew her very well.
Jenna [01:07:03] You guys might recognize her from the film No Country for Old Men. I mean, she has a huge filmography, but at this time, that film had just come out. We reached out to Beth and she told us the story of exactly how she was cast on the show.
Beth Grant [01:07:21] I was thrilled when I got the call to do this part and to be Rainn’s babysitter and girlfriend. It’s demented and I love it. And I had worked with Steve Carell fairly recently in Little Miss Sunshine. So I was already completely in love with him and did love the show. And I had worked with Greg Daniels on King of the Hill and we ran into each other during the Writers Guild strike. And I think he saw me in my strike mode. I guess he knew I was right to be able to be that demented woman.
Angela [01:08:00] Well, then Beth shares with us what it was like to do the scene at the front door, she’s holding a cooler the whole time this is all happening. It’s her first scene of the episode. Here’s what she had to say.
Beth Grant [01:08:14] Coming to the door to that dinner party was so thrilling for me. It was so hard not to laugh. I felt that since I knew Steve, he was out to get me. He wanted me to break. And here I was, a guest star, nervous with all you regulars, you fabulous comedians, you brilliant comic minds. And here I am, the guest star with Rainn. And opening the door is Steve Carell, just going for it. And I started this riff and improvising to the point that I was determined not to laugh. So I started almost grunting and crying. I don’t know if you can hear it in the episode, but and tears in my eyes. And he said, Oh, great, now she’s crying or something. And I leaned over. I was holding that cooler, you know, bringing our own food since we weren’t invited, holding that cooler. And I leaned over, just shaking all over and came back up. And somehow I think I managed not to break. But that was the only time I managed not to break because you guys were just so hilarious.
Angela [01:09:20] Jenna we should share with everyone what line Steve improvised that sent us all to the floor.
Jenna [01:09:26] Yes, guys, Steve improvised the line. Snip, snap, snip, snapYou have no idea the physical toll three vasectomies has on a person.
Angela [01:09:37] I mean, you try not laughing with Steve Carell in front of you, improvising stuff like that, we were all a goner.
Jenna [01:09:45] Well, it’s interesting because Paul Feig sent in an audio clip about this and I’ll let him explain it. But there’s a reason why Steve improvised that line. Here you go.
Paul Feig [01:09:57] There’s so many great things to think about and remember from this episode, but the one that makes me just realize how genius Steve Carell is, and in case anybody didn’t realize that already, is when the whole snip snap run was, it was a pretty dramatic scene of them, like talking about having kids and all this. And and so we did it several takes of it. It was really good, but it very dramatic. And I remember kind of saying to Steve, maybe let’s do a take or just kind of find a little more humor in it. I know it’s kind of hard because it’s kind of a serious subject. And he’s like, OK, yeah, I get it. I get it. And that’s when he did it, went off on the the little snip, snap, snip, snap, which is just brilliant. I mean, that scene is so funny because it’s so heartbreaking and cringey, but also hilarious.
Jenna [01:10:41] I remember that, Angela, I remember doing takes and takes of that scene where they were just going back and forth and you could just see the pain in Michael that he wasn’t a father and that Jan had been so manipulative of him. And it was it was like a drama. And then Paul came over and talked to Steve and they were like, how can we make this a comedy again? How can we keep the dark elements of this scene but not let it get too heavy? Brilliant Steve Carell.
Angela [01:11:11] Yeah, he’s so saves the moment and it’s hilarious. I mean, you’re cringing. It’s horrible. It’s but he makes it funny.
Jenna [01:11:20] Yeah. Well, now, guys, we’re going to sit down at the table.
Angela [01:11:24] I guess dinner is ready.
Jenna [01:11:26] Near ready. Finally. Can I point something out?
Angela [01:11:30] Yeah.
Jenna [01:11:31] If you look at the table, we all have wine glasses, right? We also all have water glasses, which are wine glasses. So clearly Jan had more than six wine glasses because she is using them for water as well.
Angela [01:11:50] She just didn’t want Dwight to come, you guys, to her fancy party. He did not make the list.
Jenna [01:11:57] Well, Dwight has started eating. I mean, they brought their own food. They’re wasting no time. They’re the only ones eating. Jan still upset over what happened at the door. She’s so upset, she has to excuse herself. She goes to the kitchen.
Angela [01:12:11] Yeah. I mean, the last thing she said before she sat at that dining table was, I hate my life.
Jenna [01:12:17] Yeah.
Angela [01:12:18] She’s not in a good place. Jenna there is a deleted scene that is so fantastic where you kind of whisper to Michael, go to Jan, go go comfort her. You kind of do this little motion like go say something. So he gets up and he walks over to her. Again, he’s comforting her, but we’re all witness to it. And it’s so clumsy and awkward. And Sam, can you play the first part of that?
Michael Scott [01:12:49] Hey, no, no, no. Don’t be sad. I care about you and I support you. And you are smart and beautiful. And you have beautiful bosoms and you can’t tell they’re fake unless you’re naked. And I believe with my support and your constant calls to Dr. Perry on my phone plan, which a little bit of a strain, because I only have 20 anytime minutes a month, every minute after that is 75 cents. Um.
Melvina [01:13:28] You should look at some other plans.
Michael Scott [01:13:32] Okay, thanks, weirdo. But you know what? I’m month to month because I don’t want a two year commitment.
Angela [01:13:40] Do you remember I remember when he turned a Beth and goes, oh, thanks, weirdo, we all lost it.
Jenna [01:13:48] Yeah, Gene said that’s one of his favorite lines that got cut.
Angela [01:13:52] Oh, really?
Jenna [01:13:54] Mm hmm. He loves that moment.
Angela [01:13:56] Michael continues to try to comfort Jan, and it doesn’t get any better, but it really paints a picture of how he feels about his home life with her.
Pam [01:14:07] What were you saying to Jan?
Michael Scott [01:14:08] Honey, nobody in the complex likes you, but you have made this place great. It’s like a museum. Yeah. You can’t touch anything, which is a really strange way to feel in the place that you live. You have made this home a house.
Jenna [01:14:34] It’s just what Paul Feig said about their design of the house like a museum.
Angela [01:14:40] You have made this warm, cozy home a house.
Jenna [01:14:45] Oh, Michael, I think they were right to leave those out because otherwise I think we might have felt too badly for Jan when Michael is about to do what he’s about to do. But before we get there, Angela, I have to talk about this moment when Dwight offers you some of his beet salad and you respond by saying the thought of popping one of his beets into your mouth makes you want to vomit. Because I remember something else that was happening during this scene. Will you share it with us?
Angela [01:15:16] Yeah, it was actually really hard for me to focus in the scene and say my dialogue because Jenna my daughter in my belly just decided in that moment she was going to run a full marathon. She was like, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig. Kicking so much. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the sound of Rainn Wilson’s voice. Maybe Rainn’s voice awoken my child in my womb and she was ready to fight. But it was so surreal to me to be thinking about the timing of the scene and everyone’s dialogue and when I was supposed to come in and trying not to laugh. In the meantime, having this, like wrestling match happening in my belly.
Jenna [01:15:56] I think there are a lot of women who can relate to that, Angela. I have a friend who is a lawyer and she was very, very pregnant and she was having to take a deposition. And she told me at the end of the day, she was like, I could barely focus on what I was doing because I was having to give very carefully worded questions and comments because it was all going on the record. But all the while, her kid in her belly was just tossing and turning.
Angela [01:16:22] Yeah, so much so. And I have shared this story before and it’s one of my favorite memories, while the scene was going on, I’m talking everyone is saying their lines and there’s the rapid cadence of the dialogue, I- off camera- grabbed Ed’s hand and under the table, put it on my belly and he turned to me with his eyes wide and all of a sudden he wasn’t Andy, he was Ed. And he mouthed to me, oh, my gosh, I needed someone else to know. And to witness like what I was like going through in the moment. And it’s such a special memory to me. And when I re-watched the episode with my daughter, I said, Isabel, you were running a marathon in Mommy’s belly right now. And she was like, what? It’s so special to me.
Jenna [01:17:11] Guys, women are warriors, we go to work and we focus on our work as if we don’t have that going on. Try to imagine how I could put it to a man like, OK, you’re trying to give the most important presentation of your life and imagine a puppy is jumping at your leg the whole time, like just the most distracting thing.
Angela [01:17:32] Jumping at your leg but it’s inside you, which is even weirder. Like it’s like the alien. What is happening?
Jenna [01:17:40] Women are warriors. Way to go, Ange. Beth Grant also shared her memories about shooting this dinner table scene. Let’s have a listen.
Beth Grant [01:17:49] Sitting at that table and, you know, sucking on those beets. The reason I was sucking on this beets was to keep from laughing. And Rainn over their eating and going. Hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm. There’s so much subtle humor in this episode. And then, of course, the demented relationship that they have. I love you all so much. I’m so honored to be part of this very popular and respected episode, each of you doing such beautiful, subtle, hilarious comedy. And I was so thrilled to see that all of you broke up too once we got inside and we sat down at the table and someone would break and say, sorry, sorry. And then someone else would break, sorry, sorry. And then we’d keep going. The last thing I’ll say is when I came home, I said, I do not know how Paul is going to edit this. It’s too hilarious. Every moment is a three hour episode. I don’t understand how he’s going to do it, but by golly, you did it. And it is just an honor to have been part of this amazing, and as I say again, demented episode.
Angela [01:18:59] Amazing and demented.
Jenna [01:19:00] That sums it up.
Angela [01:19:03] Yeah.
Jenna [01:19:03] Gene told me that he and Lee actually begged NBC to make this a supersized episode, but I guess the schedule had already been set. But he also told me that they did end up releasing a twenty nine minute producer’s cut on iTunes that included a bunch of deleted scenes, including some of the ones we talked about, like the granola bar scene.
Angela [01:19:25] Maybe NBC didn’t supersize it because they were holding a grudge because Greg wanted it to go as is.
Jenna [01:19:31] Oh, wow. I love that speculation. They’re like, no, you can have your weirdo episode, but it’s only going to be 22 minutes.
Angela [01:19:40] We’re not going to make it big.
Jenna [01:19:42] That’s what she said.
Angela [01:19:44] Oh, that’s what she said.
Jenna [01:19:47] Oh!
Angela [01:19:47] One other little detail from this dinner party is how enormous the glasses were that Dwight was drinking from. To me, they look like glasses you buy at Spencer’s Gifts. Remember that place in the mall where you could get like kind of joke size stuff? Well, Paul really loved these glasses, and there was one detail about them he wanted to share with us.
Paul Feig [01:20:07] One of my favorite gags in the show is when Dwight comes over with his babysitter and they’re at dinner with the wineglasses, I had them fill the wine all the way to the top because I figured that’s what Dwight would think he would do with a big wine glasses. You would fill it right to the rim. So that’s a little wine lovers joke for everybody.
Jenna [01:20:26] You know what they look like to me, Angela? They look like those wine glasses that I see a lot of moms post on Instagram about getting through their day.
Angela [01:20:36] Wine weekend with the ladies, and the wine glass is like the size of your head.
Jenna [01:20:40] Yes, that’s what they remind me of.
Angela [01:20:42] Yeah.
Jenna [01:20:43] Oh, my God, lady. Guess what.
Angela [01:20:45] What?
Jenna [01:20:46] The food is ready.
Angela [01:20:48] The food is ready, but it might be poisoned.
Jenna [01:20:50] Oh, no. Oh, my gosh. Yes. Michael whispers to Pam. He thinks that Jan has maybe been trying to poison him.
Angela [01:20:59] He can’t prove it, but he thinks…
Jenna [01:21:02] He just hopes she didn’t do anything to the food tonight.
Angela [01:21:05] Like what has been happening to Michael? Has he been having violent diarrhea? Stomach cramping after he eats with her? Like what is making him think this?
Jenna [01:21:14] Pam has a talking head. Poor Pam is so hungry. She says she knows that Jan did not poison the food, but if she were going to poison the food, wouldn’t she have poisoned Pam’s since she is Michael’s former lover? And now, you know, Pam is not going to be able to eat.
Angela [01:21:33] You guys, Michael has soft teeth. We learned that in this episode. And because of his soft teeth, he has to dip his meat into his wine or probably whatever beverage is in front of him. And Jan hates it. This has clearly come up before and she doesn’t want him to do it. She’s like, could you stop doing it? It’s disgusting. Lady, can I tell you a story about a guy I dated?
Angela [01:21:57] Oh, God, I was so worried. You were about to tell me you dip meat into your beverages, but it’s about a different. It’s a guy.
Jenna [01:22:03] Angela, how long have you known me? You thought maybe I dip my meat in beverages?
Angela [01:22:11] Well you made a face. You guys can’t see her, but she made a face. You did the thing with your shoulders that you do Jenna when you’re about to share something with me that you haven’t shared before. And so I thought, oh, my God, I’ve eaten with her. But have I ever eaten red meat with her?
Jenna [01:22:26] Oh, my gosh, no. I eat meat normally. I can’t believe that’s a sentence I had to say. Well, but I did know what I was going to share was I dated a guy who, first of all, had to drink milk with every meal, not water.
Angela [01:22:41] Gross.
Jenna [01:22:42] He is a grown man, but he had to have a big tall glass of milk. I mean, maybe no judgment, but I’m just saying I don’t know.
Angela [01:22:50] I judge. OK, go on.
Jenna [01:22:52] We’re at a restaurant orders a tall glass of milk. But he had this thing where he would take a bite of food and then immediately take a sip of milk and then chew the food with the milk in his mouth and then swallow it.
Angela [01:23:09] Oh, God. And you had to sit and watch that through a whole meal?
Jenna [01:23:15] This was his preferred way of eating. He liked the taste of his food mixed with a sip of milk.
Angela [01:23:24] All foods?
Jenna [01:23:26] Every meal, every food. A bite of sandwich, sip of milke. Fork full of spaghetti, sip of milk.
Angela [01:23:30] That is disgusting. That’s a deal breaker for me. I can’t spend the rest of my life watching you take one bite a swig of milk and slosh it around. I can’t do it. I’m out.
Jenna [01:23:45] I dated him a long time.
Angela [01:23:47] How long?
Jenna [01:23:48] I don’t want to say.
Angela [01:23:49] Oh no, oh no.
Jenna [01:23:52] But it was a lot of meals.
Angela [01:23:53] A lot of milk meals.
Jenna [01:23:55] Yeah.
Angela [01:23:56] Well, listen, Michael is really offended that Jan has pointed out this quirk in front of the dinner party, and she is so evil. She goes, oops, and that’s it. Michael has had it. He is going to take back his space. He marches off. We don’t know where he’s going or what he’s getting.
Jenna [01:24:18] While he’s gone, I got a little glimpse of your plate, Angela.
Angela [01:24:22] Yeah.
Jenna [01:24:23] Will you please tell people what you did?
Angela [01:24:25] You guys, it was one of those little actory moments, and it might also have been because I was really pregnant and everything was smelling so strong to me. But I took my napkin, my fancy napkin that Jan had laid out for all of us, and I just gently covered my meat with it so I didn’t have to look at it. And I thought Angela Martin would do that because she’s a vegetarian. She wouldn’t have eaten the meat or wanted to look at it, but she wasn’t going to say anything because this is clearly not the dinner party where you want to voice up about the food. So I covered my meat with the napkin.
Jenna [01:24:59] So brilliant. I love that choice. Well, Michael comes back to the table and he has brought with him his neon beer sign and he takes a painting off the wall, which, by the way, I want to point out, is red. And he hangs up his beer sign. And when the neon light goes on, you hear the hum. And we are just bathed in this glow from this sign.
Angela [01:25:25] Well, listen, it’s a St. Pauli girl beer sign and it’s outlined in blue. So when he turned it on, it was like a cascade of blue light filled the whole room.
Jan [01:25:38] It’s just so incredible.
Angela [01:25:39] And you see the blue on Melora’s face. That’s how bright the light is. Jan is furious.
Jenna [01:25:48] She gets up, she turns on Hunter’s CD. And now we are going to have the argument.
Angela [01:25:55] Yeah, we thought we had the argument, but now the showdown is about to happen.
Jenna [01:26:00] Yeah, they start arguing about talent, about creativity. Michael’s like I don’t think he’s a good singer. I don’t think he’s very good at all. But Jan seems to love him.
Angela [01:26:13] It’s one of my favorite lines. Jan says at least he’s an artist. And Michael says, BFD, I’m a screenwriter. And this is my favorite line. Jan says, and I’m a candle maker, but you don’t hear me bragging about it!
Jenna [01:26:30] Yeah.
Angela [01:26:31] It’s one of my favorite lines of the whole episode.
Jenna [01:26:34] I also like this couplet: you burn it, you buy it. And then Michael says, Great, I’ll be your first customer.
Angela [01:26:42] You’re hardly my first!
Jenna [01:26:48] Oh my god, Angela, I cannot believe we got to sit in that room.
Angela [01:26:52] I know.
Jenna [01:26:54] I mean, we got front row seats to this live show. It was mind blowing.
Angela [01:27:01] Just the two of them were doing this dance and we got to watch it. I am still blown away that we got to be there.
Jenna [01:27:11] Well, when we asked Rainn Wilson about this episode, this is what he talked about.
Rainn Wilson [01:27:17] I think the true hero of dinner party is the magnificent Melora Hardin, who is insanely brilliant all through the series, but especially in that episode. I mean, Steve Carell being one of the all time greats on the planet Earth, comedic actors, and Melora Hardin stands toe to toe with him all the way through it being just as funny, just as specific, just as weird. And it’s where you kind of see that Jan has turned a corner and that there is underneath this kind of external facade of blond efficiency, there is a very, very weird, egotistical, messed up human being under there, her candles on and on. But her performance is just magnificent. It’s so dry. It stands the test of time as just one of the great all time performances all throughout the series. But especially in that episode. When I watched it recently with my son, I was blown away by how great she was.
Jenna [01:28:27] Melora is the star of this episode. She just is.
Angela [01:28:31] Yeah.
Jenna [01:28:32] We were so lucky to have her. I mean, back on the pilot when we cast her, could we have known that this is what was going to happen?
Angela [01:28:40] Well, Jenna Melora has shared with us that she felt like they knew the chemistry these characters could have if they really got room to run, way back on the pilot. Here’s what she had to say.
Melora Hardin [01:28:53] The whole Jan and Michael arc started when we were having lunch at the pilot episode. Me and Steve and Greg were all having lunch together. And somehow Steve and I both said, like there was just some spark and some weird dysfunctional attraction between Michael and Jan, that if we ever got so lucky to make the series, we would hope that we could get them to hook up somehow some way at some conference or something. So that was the beginning of it. So I think going into it, I was always aware of what the potential for sort of showing this wonderfully complicated and dysfunctional relationship was, the hilarity of that. It was just so funny and so kind of dark and darkly funny, which just really appeals to my personal sensibilities. I really loved that the dinner party took it to that next step of implosion. Yeah, I was just thrilled. I was just thrilled that we had a chance to really implode on screen in front of everybody and hopefully get a lot of laughs out of it, which we did.
Jenna [01:30:01] Well, speaking of implosion, this whole thing is about to crescendo when Jan picks up a Dundee and smashes Michael’s beloved plasma screen TV.
Angela [01:30:17] Yeah, I mean, he’s like, that was two hundred dollars! Good luck paying me back on your zero dollars salary, babe.
Jenna [01:30:28] Ugh.
Angela [01:30:29] My favorite moment after that. There’s the silence of like, oh, my God, what just happened? And the person that calls it for the night, that’s like, yeah, I’m done here is Melvina. She’s like, yeah, I’m going to go.
Jenna [01:30:44] Well, Melvina is the only person who doesn’t work for this guy. So she could be like, yeah, I’m out of here.
Angela [01:30:51] Yeah.
Jenna [01:30:51] This has taken a turn for me. Well, we had a fan question, Angela, from Meg, Emily, Ethan and Emma. How many plasma screen TVs were broken by a Dundee and how many takes did this actually require? Well, I reached out to good old Kent-a-Pedia who told me that those little TVs were actually kind of expensive. He said they bought five of them and we broke four.
Angela [01:31:18] Oh!
Jenna [01:31:19] Now, I remember doing a bunch of takes with Melora where she missed at first and they would have us react as if she hit it. They could always use our reaction. But then she only had those five chances to actually land the Dundee when she was on camera.
Angela [01:31:37] And, you know, I mean, the sort of comical thing is it wasn’t a big target because it was it’s a small thing to hit square in the middle with the Dundee.
Jenna [01:31:47] It’s true.
Angela [01:31:48] Well, we’re all going to follow Melvina out the door, right? Everyone gets up from the table, they’re going to leave. I was actually asked not to get up from the table, if you notice. And it’s because you would have seen my belly. So I’m the last to leave the dining room.
Jenna [01:32:03] Well, not only do we leave, but the police arrive.
Angela [01:32:07] There are two moments that are so delicious in this scene. Well, one of my first things is right away, the police officers are like, hey, Dwight, because they know him, because he’s always hanging around them. He wants to be part of the club. And the other thing is, is when Michael says to them, as if they know what he’s talking about, he says, My girlfriend threw a Dundee at my TV.
Jenna [01:32:29] Yeah.
Angela [01:32:30] Can you imagine?
Jenna [01:32:33] Well they ask if he wants to press charges because some neighbors heard a lot of yelling, a big domestic disturbance, and Michael says, I’ll take the fall and they’re like, no-.
Angela [01:32:46] You’re actually you’re actually not in fault. You don’t have to take the fall. Is there anywhere you can go tonight?
Jenna [01:32:53] Yeah. And Dwight offers to take Michael home with him, which Michael refuses until he sees Jan come out of the condo. And then he’s like, yeah, OK, no, I’ll go home with you.
Angela [01:33:05] Well, Jenna as everyone is leaving there was a Dwight and Angela deleted scene and Angela is very sassy with Dwight. I want to play it.
Dwight [01:33:17] I noticed you wearing open toed shoes. Since when did you become a whore?
Angela Martin [01:33:23] There might be a lot of things about me that shock you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my date.
Angela [01:33:32] There might be a lot of things about me that shock you. And then I look them up and down and I coyly kind of smile and I walk away. And now there’s this series of scenes, right, that kind of wrap up the episode. There’s a montage of Jan. She’s trying to fix the Dundee. You can tell she’s, she’s sad. She, she knows this night went horrible. Clearly knows this is a night they might not come back from, right?
Jenna [01:34:01] Yeah.
Angela [01:34:02] You see Jim and Pam having this really cute scene, they finally got food. They’re having a hamburger.
Jenna [01:34:08] Yes. We got a fan question about this from Reagan Colliner who wants to know what burger place to Jim and Pam eat at the end because the burgers looked amazing. I’ll tell you what, the burgers were amazing. I don’t know if it was just because I spent four days saying I was hungry, but when I got that burger, I’m really eating it in that scene. I think you can tell.
Angela [01:34:28] I think you were happy to eat anything other than that granola bar.
Jenna [01:34:32] I think I was. Well, we filmed that scene at the Home Plate Burger Joint and it was this little mom and pop hamburger stand which eventually, sadly went out of business. It’s now a smog shop. And in that same strip mall, there was a car wash that they turned into a Cold Stone Creamery. And that is where Andy and Angela are sitting in the car having their ice cream.
Angela [01:35:00] Yes. Ed and I have a very funny story about this moment. And I asked Ed, I texted him, I said, Ed, can I share about the car scene? And he’s like, yes, you can tell everyone I farted in the car. So we’re in the car. And he’s supposed to lick a little bit of my ice cream and then I have to squish it on the side. Right. It took a few tries to get that squish just right. And in between setting up, they’d have to clean the door. And we’re in between setups and Ed had a little toot. And I was really pregnant, as you guys know. And it’s it smelled. And I was like, oh no. Oh no. And we were rolling when it happened. And so it’s in the bloopers. Here it is. Oh, God. Oh, God.
Paul Feig [01:35:50] Oh no. If Angela’s coming out of the car, I think I know what happened.
Ed Helms [01:35:54] I’m sorry, I. (LAUGHTER) It’s not that bad.
Jenna [01:36:07] He drove you from the car, you had to get out.
Angela [01:36:10] I had to get out of the car and our crew was listening the whole time and they were cracking up. Ed is hitting the dashboard like, no, no, come back, I’m sorry. It cracks us up. It makes me laugh. Oh, my gosh. Years later, Jenna when the show wrapped Ed gave me the sweetest card, he wrote all of these lovely things and he ended it with, and I farted in a car with you, so we’ll always have that. Love, Ed. It happens guys. It happens. But that one made the blooper reel.
Jenna [01:36:48] Oh well the very last scene is Dwight and Michael pulling up to this bus stop. And as they passed by, we could see that Dwight’s babysitter is waiting for the bus with her cooler and they do not offer her a ride. It’s terrible. But Beth Grant sent in a little memory of shooting this as well.
Beth Grant [01:37:14] I must say, at the end, when I’m standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus, because he hasn’t even had the decency to drive me home, and his car pulls up and we have this moment of looking at each other, to me is so esoteric and brilliant and wonderful. And Rainn’s look to me and then he drives off leaving me at the bus stop. He’s a free man.
Jenna [01:37:38] I just love how tickled she is by her whole storyline in this, she was so game for all of it and I loved having her on set. She was an absolute delight.
Angela [01:37:49] Yes. And Beth. Oh, my goodness. Thank you so much for sending in these audio clips. And thank you to Melora and Rainn and John and Ed and Paul Feig, Gene and Lee, Kent-a-Pedia. Jena, everyone really showed up for us for this episode. And Steve read the summary.
Jenna [01:38:07] Guys. That’s Dinner Party. We hope you liked it. Angela and I worked extra long on this episode because we wanted to get everything we could and share with you. This is one of our favorite memories of shooting the show and we hope we did it justice.
Angela [01:38:26] We love you guys so much. Thanks for listening. Go light your candles. Take a minute for yourself and find some serenity.
Jenna [01:38:35] Sam, will you take us out with Just One Night?
Hunter [01:38:39] That one night you made everything all right…
Jenna [01:39:07] Thank you for listening to Office Ladies. Office Ladies is produced by Earwolf, Jenna Fischer, and Angela Kinsey. Our show is executive produced by Codi Fischer. Our producer is Cassi Jerkins. Our sound engineer is Sam Kieffer, and our associate producer is Aynsley Bubbico.
Angela [01:39:22] Our theme song is Rubber Tree by Creed Bratton.
Jenna [01:39:24] For Ad free versions of Office Ladies go to Stitcher premium dotcom. For a free one month trial of Stitcher Premium, use code: Office.
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