April 12, 2022
This week we’re breaking down “Scott’s Tots” and the ladies chat with the director of this episode and the man behind the sometimes-fedora-wearing Ryan Howard, B.J. Novak! Ten years has passed since Michael promised 15 third graders that he would pay for their college if they graduated high school, and guess what? They’ve all graduated and Michael cannot afford to fulfill this promise. So he must do the right thing, give them all lithium laptop batteries and break the bad news. Often referred to as the “cringiest” episode, B.J. discusses what it was like directing his first “Office” episode, which includes filming the kids singing and dancing to “Hey Mr. Scott”. Angela shares a deleted scene where Dwight impersonates Meredith and Jenna shares a real life Scott’s Tots’ success story. So if you’re a Stanley, you will love this episode. But if you’re a Pam… well, we still think you’ll enjoy this episode even though Michael has done a terrible, terrible thing. It’s just terrible.
117 — Scott’s Tots with B.J. Novak
OFFICE-117 – Scott’s Tots
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. Hello, Angela.
Angela [00:00:24] Hi, Jenna.
Jenna [00:00:25] We are here. We are surrounded by lamps.
Angela [00:00:29] So both of us have some progressive eye sight issues?
Jenna [00:00:37] Problems, yes, deteriorating eyesight.
Angela [00:00:40] And we both just got new glasses. But here’s the thing we need: lots of light.
Jenna [00:00:44] I need a well-lit room. I am that person at a restaurant now who is holding the little votive candle
Angela [00:00:51] over the menu.
Jenna [00:00:52] Yeah, that’s right.
Angela [00:00:54] And using your iPhone light.
Jenna [00:00:55] I try not to use the iPhone light because it’s just so incredibly embarrassing, but it sometimes comes to that.
Angela [00:01:01] Oh, I’ve let it go. I’m iPhone light. I would like to point this out, and maybe I should put it in our stories. We have an addition to the overhead light that comes in this room, right? There’s track lighting, there’s all these bulbs. We have brought in lamps. I’m talking floor lamps, guys, like that you see at Target. You know, the floor lamps. We have one two three four… four around us right now. Four floor lamps.
Jenna [00:01:30] We’re ladies who love lamps. We’re, the lamp ladies.
Angela [00:01:34] We’re the lamp ladies. And we’re here today to talk to you about Scott’s Tots.
Jenna [00:01:39] Season six, Episode 12, written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky and directed by B.J. Novak, our very own B.J. Novak.
Angela [00:01:49] Yeah!
Jenna [00:01:50] Here’s a summary. It’s time for Michael to face the music on an empty promise that he made ten years ago.
Angela [00:01:58] Oof.
Jenna [00:01:59] Here’s the promise. He told 15 elementary school students that when they graduated from high school, he would pay their college tuition.
Angela [00:02:09] Mm hmm.
Jenna [00:02:10] Because he believed he would be a millionaire by that time.
Angela [00:02:13] But he’s not.
Jenna [00:02:14] And he can’t do it.
Angela [00:02:16] Nope.
Jenna [00:02:16] So he’s going to have to go to their school and tell them today.
Angela [00:02:20] In person.
Jenna [00:02:21] Meanwhile, Dwight hatches a diabolical plan to try and get Jim fired.
Angela [00:02:27] He literally calls it a diabolical plan.
Jenna [00:02:30] Yep.
Angela [00:02:30] He printed out a little outline of his plan.
Jenna [00:02:36] So as many of you know, this episode is considered the cringiest.
Angela [00:02:42] Yeah, Jenna and I were talking as we prepped for this episode. We both went online. There are so many articles that list the cringiest moments or cringiest episodes of The Office and Scott’s Tots pretty much makes number one on almost all the lists.
Jenna [00:02:57] Well, we’re very excited today because we are interviewing the director of this episode, B.J. Novak. We’re going to ask him all about it. B.J., hello. Welcome to Office Ladies.
B.J. Novak [00:03:12] Thank you. Welcome back. I’ve been on.
Angela [00:03:15] Wait. Are we starting with some B.J. sass?
Jenna [00:03:17] I think we just started with sass already.
Angela [00:03:19] I love it.
B.J. Novak [00:03:19] Whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s not my- that’s not my brand. It’s the Ryan brand.
Angela [00:03:25] It’s the Ryan sass coming through.
Jenna [00:03:26] Yes. Welcome back to Office Ladies.
B.J. Novak [00:03:30] Thank you.
Jenna [00:03:31] Is this your third?
B.J. Novak [00:03:31] Second.
Jenna [00:03:32] Second.
B.J. Novak [00:03:33] You have no memory of any of this.
Jenna [00:03:36] Do I know you? Have we met? I’m Jenna.
Angela [00:03:38] Who are you? How did you get on this Zoom?
B.J. Novak [00:03:40] You’re on my IMDb right now just like, Oh, wow, I guess I worked with him. Okay.
Angela [00:03:46] B.J., Thanks so much for being here.
B.J. Novak [00:03:49] Yeah, I keep staring at you two. It’s pretty cool. I’m like, Are they the same people? I know I did this before, but…
Angela [00:03:56] Well, we’re the same. Just, you know, slightly rounder.
Jenna [00:04:00] Yeah.
B.J. Novak [00:04:00] No, I was talking to Brian Baumgartner for the first time in forever. Not in person. And I was like, When I see him, is he even Brian to me anymore? Is it just like, Kevin- like, it’s this weird blur when it’s been so long.
Angela [00:04:12] Well, I totally get that, though, because Jenna and I also live in this weird, kind of surreal place where we see you every week. Every week. But we see-
B.J. Novak [00:04:21] Because you rewatch?
Angela [00:04:22] Yeah, and we rewatch multiple times as we do research and stuff. So we’ll watch each episode three times, at least, you know?
B.J. Novak [00:04:31] Wow.
Angela [00:04:32] Yeah. And it’s-.
Jenna [00:04:33] You’re in that phase, your character’s in that phase right now where like every week you’re doing something weird, like wearing a fedora or glasses or like a weird patterned vest.
B.J. Novak [00:04:43] Yes, that’s what you do when you don’t know what to do with the character.
Angela [00:04:48] But you guys are living in our brains in this like this pre-dated place. You know?
B.J. Novak [00:04:53] Obviously, you are the DNA of you enjoy watching the stuff you’ve done.
Angela [00:04:58] Yeah.
Jenna [00:04:59] And I’ll say this- my lore of the show, before we started this rewatch, was that it was only good for a few seasons. And then it was like, meh.
B.J. Novak [00:05:07] I know!
Angela [00:05:08] We were really snobby about it.
Jenna [00:05:10] And it’s not true.
B.J. Novak [00:05:10] I thought season three, I was like, This shows (BLEEP) over. What’s happening to this?
Jenna [00:05:16] But it is not true at all. We’re in the middle of season six. We’re like cruising right into season seven, and it is a pleasure and a joy to watch.
Angela [00:05:26] There were episodes where I thought, Oh, that- I remember when we were doing them that we were like, Oh, so broad bleh. And Jenna and I are watching them and laughing our asses off.
Jenna [00:05:34] Yeah, like Mafia. I was like this- when we shot Mafia, I was like, What has happened to us? Why is Ed dressed as a mechanic?
B.J. Novak [00:05:41] Right, right.
Jenna [00:05:42] It is just it’s amazing. Like, there’s just nothing wrong with it.
B.J. Novak [00:05:47] I mean, some of the bigger swings are more clear why you’d doubt them, like Kevin and the chili, that we talk about? Mindy and I were like, No! This is the dumbest! It was like, OK, the cold open, Kevin makes chili. He loves it. He walks up. He spills the chili. And we’re like, That’s the joke? We’re like this intellectual show. And it’s like a classic. But it’s also like, you know, when you’re in a school play, when you’re a kid, and your parents see Saturday night or Friday night, and you’re like, It was so much better Saturday! And the parent’s like, I know you think that. To me, it’s just you in a play. OK?
Angela [00:06:24] Yeah.
B.J. Novak [00:06:25] And I feel like to fans, it’s like, OK, but it’s Jim and Pam, yeah, it’s still The Office, guys. I’m sorry that season six wasn’t season- it’s very funny. I get it. It’s the same show.
Angela [00:06:38] Oh, that’s really good, actually. That’s so true.
Jenna [00:06:40] It’s so true. Thank you for coming on today.
B.J. Novak [00:06:43] Oh, I love it.
Jenna [00:06:43] So that we could talk about Scott’s Tots, which you directed. It was your directorial debut of The Office.
B.J. Novak [00:06:51] Of Anything. Yeah.
Jenna [00:06:52] Now, had you not directed a webisodes before this?
B.J. Novak [00:06:55] Oh, that’s true. I did the webisodes. Yeah. But you know, the first substantial thing.
Angela [00:07:00] Do you guys remember anything about the show? The two of you?
Jenna [00:07:05] Me and B.J.
B.J. Novak [00:07:06] Angela, you want to just handle this on your own? I mean, I think you got this.
Angela [00:07:09] I got this. Well, we have some stats to throw at you about some reviews of Scott’s Tots.
Jenna [00:07:15] We do.
B.J. Novak [00:07:16] Just so we get clear, did you bring me on to answer for Scott’s Tots? To apologize?
Angela [00:07:23] No, no.
B.J. Novak [00:07:23] OK. OK. Because I know, I know some of this. But please let’s refresh.
Angela [00:07:26] No, not at all. Not at all.
B.J. Novak [00:07:28] OK, what are what are what are they saying?
Jenna [00:07:31] Scott’s Tots it’s widely referred to as the cringiest episode of The Office. The majority of our fan questions that we got for this episode were not questions at all. They were actually just comments on how cringey and uncomfortable it is for people to watch this show, how a lot of people skip it when they do a rewatch of the show.
B.J. Novak [00:07:54] Yeah.
Jenna [00:07:54] We found an article on Bustle dot com that was titled this: The Scientific Reason Office Fans Really Can’t Watch Scott’s Tots No Matter How Hard They Try.
Angela [00:08:06] Oh, there’s a whole article. There’s a doctor and everything.
Jenna [00:08:09] Yes. Dr. Judith Orloff is the author of The Empath Survival Guide. And she said “Fans might very well avoid this episode to avoid something painful that’s hard to face in themselves.” There is a subreddit with almost 17000 subscribers that is titled Cannot Watch Scott’s Tots, and it is still regularly updated. This was my favorite.
Angela [00:08:36] What?
Jenna [00:08:36] One person on this subreddit said that Scott’s Tots is like the moment Toby put his hand on Pam’s knee, but stretched out for a whole episode. B.J., at the time, did you know? Did you know that you were directing what would become the cringiest episode of The Office?
B.J. Novak [00:08:58] I had no idea. It seemed great. You know, I was assigned the script, loved it, and it was only much later. I think it’s a sign of how deep into the show I was, or we all were, that we did not have a foot in the real world. Not that that was an unrealistic episode, just that that’s exactly what Michael would do. That’s exactly what Michael would feel. I also think that, you know, we can talk about it creatively. It makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t know if people are responding to- it seems like no one’s responding to it saying it’s a bad episode or it’s Michael wouldn’t do that. It’s more just like it’s so hard to watch. So it is consistent, I think, with the show. So to us, it was, it was, it just made sense. It was consistent. I don’t remember anyone saying, you can’t, you can’t do this. But to me, I mean, it is heartbreaking from both the kids perspective, sure, but from Michael’s perspective, which is the one you just happened to be following in The Office, which is that to me, the key to the episode was that Michael was so sure that he would be successful that he could make this promise.
Jenna [00:10:18] Yeah.
Angela [00:10:19] Yeah. He’s so believed in himself.
B.J. Novak [00:10:21] Yes, it’s not- to me it’s not about the lie. It’s not about what ended up being a lie or a broken promise. It’s it’s Michael’s- he got carried away with his generosity, with his generosity, his belief in himself. So to me, it was a very- I mean, maybe this is what people cringe about- it’s a very, very lovable version of Michael Scott, as well as a heartbreaking version of Michael Scott. And it’s sort of the whole series in in an incredibly distilled, uncomfortable way from the Michael Scott point of view when you look at it like that.
Jenna [00:10:54] To me, it’s maybe one of the most Michael things Michael has ever done.
B.J. Novak [00:11:00] Yes. Yeah.
Angela [00:11:00] One hundred percent. I love the line so much, I felt like it was like everything you need to know about Michael, when he says, I’ve made some empty promises in my life, but hands down, that was the most generous.
B.J. Novak [00:11:12] Yeah. Yeah.
Angela [00:11:12] It’s like so perfect.
Jenna [00:11:15] B.J., I made a list because there are a bunch of articles that list the cringiest episodes of The Office.
B.J. Novak [00:11:22] Hit me.
Angela [00:11:22] Get ready.
Jenna [00:11:23] You wrote most of them. They are Prince Family Paper, Diversity Day, Sexual Harassment, and Chair Model. All of which you wrote.
B.J. Novak [00:11:35] Yes. Yes.
Jenna [00:11:37] Chair model, you remember Chair Model, where Michael falls in love with a woman in a magazine and finds out she’s died and he.
Angela [00:11:47] Goes to her grave.
Jenna [00:11:49] It’s as if he lost his wife 50 years.
B.J. Novak [00:11:50] Yeah. Paul Lieberstein wrote a lot- I love that episode. Paul is the source of the darkness on that one. And look, I wrote a lot of very joyous stuff, too. I wrote a lot of the Jim and Pam. I wrote Threat Level Midnight, which is a very joyful episode. So I’m not- it’s not like I’m the prince of darkness on this show. And also, look, there were what? How many hundred episodes? I worked on like, you know, more than half of them. So it’s not… I’m not just this, this dark of figure. I’m proud of it. I’m less dark now, though. Because again, I do hear this and I do go, Oh my God. Like, how was I capable of some of this? Like, especially when I when I see Ryan Howard, I’m like, Oh my God. Like, I don’t see any villain like this.
Angela [00:12:42] Here’s the Mashable article that comes out after this episode. B.J. Novak, Prince of Darkness of The Office. No B.J. we we love like, my god, how your mind works.
B.J. Novak [00:12:53] No, I think the dark is important, and I think I think that, you know, I remember after season one, which was six episodes, and I think all of them ended pretty darkly, right? The pilot, Hot Girl, I mean, we had that nice moment at the end of Diversity, but the pilot, Diversity Day, Hot Girl, Healthcare, extremely dark. Um Basketball I don’t remember.
Jenna [00:13:20] Office Olympics.
B.J. Novak [00:13:20] Office Olympics and Basketball maybe were a little more positive endings. But you know, we had sort of a big group meeting that Greg led about, OK, what are we going to do differently in season two? And there’s a lot different. And one of them was three out of four endings should be positive. And then one is just for us, meaning Paul. He was like, we’re not going to totally sell out, but the British had ended dark every time, more or less, and we had been ending dark every time, more or less. And so the new thing was, you know, so I guess Scott’s Tots was definitely one of those for-.
Angela [00:13:57] One for us.
B.J. Novak [00:13:59] Yeah. But again, I do. I do think it’s an interesting- it is a deep, interesting one. It’s not that it’s not part of the canon. It is very difficult. I agree. I agree.
Angela [00:14:10] I think, though, it is Michael. It’s honestly Michael trying to do something good, believing in himself, knowing- well, I don’t think he knows he’s going to fall short.
B.J. Novak [00:14:21] But, look how much he believes in Pam and her art.
Angela [00:14:24] I know.
B.J. Novak [00:14:25] He is such a believer, you know? And so his belief got ahead of him. And this is by far, you know, exactly the line you quoted, this is the biggest consequence of all. Of all his belief. You know? Now we should remind people- or I should remind people- I I wish I had- I admire it. I did not write the episode. This was a Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky episode. And I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m disowning it either, because I know we talked about so many people are uncomfortable. You know, these are two of, I think, the most brilliant writers, backbone of the show. When a lot of the original staff was burnt out, these guys took the ball and a lot of the sort of center- central seasons of the of The Office that people- that- where it was really humming, that was Lee and Gene just turning out scripts and revising scripts they’re not even credited for. So those guys were really an incredible backstop for that. But, you know, the look- Gene in particular, I think, is the best one liner writer in Office history. He’s the one who wrote, “I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little stitious.” You know, so I would guess he wrote that line. But yeah, I mean, maybe we’re getting a little off track, but that is sort of this incredible distillation of why we love Michael so much and why he’s made everyone’s life so impossibly difficult, which is sort of the heart and the comedy of the series. But it’s not usually that intense, you know?
Angela [00:16:01] Right. Well, what was it like, B.J. you talked about, you know, Lee and Gene as the writers, but you went from writing to directing on The Office. What was that shift like to go from the writers room to being the director of the episode?
B.J. Novak [00:16:13] It felt very intuitive. I took it very seriously, but I overprepared. I don’t think I did any better on the first one than I did on the fifth one that I did. But I think that it’s just very interesting what is required to leap from writer to director- and I think, to an extent, actor to director- is so much the confidence to picture yourself saying action and cut.
Jenna [00:16:39] Did you get any advice from anyone before you started directing?
B.J. Novak [00:16:44] Yes, I got the best advice and I pass it on to anyone who directs. So the first piece of advice I got- first of all, it’s good advice in general; ask everyone for advice. People love giving advice. So anytime you wish you had advice in your show, I ask them. People will talk your ear off. So I asked everybody, What’s your advice for directing? And I should also- we should clarify directing an ongoing TV show is incredibly different. The actors know the characters. The writers know the story. The directors of photography and cameramen know how to shoot it. If you just stand there and nicely and intuitively and confidently ask everyone, How would you shoot this? How would you schedule this? Did that feel good to you? You’re fine. Because the show is set in the pilot stage. Whereas a movie or limited series, which is essentially like a long movie, you have to establish, is there music in the show? Is this a very colorful show? Is this a little bit of a campy wink wink show? Is it super deadpan? Like you have to establish all these things. But on an ongoing show, it’s kind of like, I- look, I took it super seriously because it’s an amazing first step, but it’s not nearly as hard, you know, coming into an ongoing show. OK. The advice I got from Randall Einhorn, our longtime director of photography and later our most prolific director on the show, I said, Do you have advice? He said, Yes. Direct to the cameras like they’re actors. I said, What do you mean? He said, You’d never tell an actor, shout this line and cut it off after three seconds. Right? You tell them why. So you never tell the camera, Swing to the left on this line and punch in on that. You would say, this is where we catch Pam in her lie. So I would creep up to her and find that moment and don’t let her out. You know what I mean? And it inspires so much more creativity. It’s so much more respectful. And you’re more likely to get what you’re looking for. And, you know, I’ve extended that to direct everyone like they’re actors. You don’t tell the costume department, I want him in a suit. You say, This is a character who is so insecure that he takes himself- he tries to tell the world he’s important. I want him in a suit. Every day, he’ll wear a suit. Now the costume designer is so excited, you know, rather than, you know, she went to Sears and got a suit. Then you say, Make it look fancier. No one understands what you’re doing. No one’s motivated. Whereas actors, that’s how you talk to an actor, right? And people know that much more. So direct everyone like they’re actors is, I think, the best advice I got on that show. Other advice I got later. The other two great pieces of advice a friend Leigh Whannell, who just wrote and directed Invisible Man, which I thought was great, and he had been a writer forever. And he said that she actually took a panel on directing at the Writers Guild of America. And he’s like, B.J.- I won’t do his Australian accent- he’s like, It’s the kind of thing you get junk mail for. Come to this seminar. Blah blah blah. It was the best thing I’ve ever been to in my life. It was like John Wells. It was Kathryn Bigelow. And they were giving practical advice and cynical advice and inspiring advice. And he was like, It was the best thing I’ve ever been to, and everything I tell you is going to be from that. This advice was, the best thing you can do as a director is watch the movie in your head as much as you can. Whenever you’re in doubt, just take a walk and watch the whole movie in your head again and again and again. And then when you’re in a production meeting and someone says, What does the room look like? You just say what you see. And they figure it out. You don’t need to know what the lens is and what the lighting scheme is. And if someone says, you know, what are they wearing? Or how do you want to shoot this? You know, you can say, Oh, I picture close-ups or I picture oh, you’re like looking from a distance, you know… it will have the same effect as if you studied everything in school, because the point is to know the heart. So watch the movie in your head. The other piece of advice that’s so simple… This was- I have a friend whose father is Al Ruddy, who produced The Godfather, and I asked him if he had any advice on directing. He said, You only need to know two things to direct: what you want and how to get it. And I was like, You know what? I think that’s the best advice I’ve gotten for anything. Because those are two very hard things. In a way, knowing what you want is even harder. But all of us can approach, OK, if you know what you want and how to get it, you’ll accomplish anything. And we do that for all sorts of things. And how to get it includes asking someone for help. Or to understand something or to explain something or to beg them for a favor, you know? Or to, you know, grind them down because they’re just not getting it. And whatever it is or inspiring them or whatever you need to get it. So that’s, you know, what you want and how to get it. And then I told him. I ran into him and I was like, You gave me the best advice ever. And I quote it to him. And he’s like, Oh, there’s a third part I forgot to tell you. You got to know when you got it. I was like, I don’t like that line.
Angela [00:22:07] I’m editing that one out.
B.J. Novak [00:22:09] You’re not wrong, you’re not wrong, but it’s not as good a quote. And I said that to him. He’s like, No, no, I don’t know what- I think he just worked on a movie with some director who took forever. I was like, Al, no, this is not- this is The Godfather Part Three. This is not as good. So I just quote the first two parts.
Jenna [00:22:31] That’s so true, BJ. I know, you know, Angela and I changed our whole lives because we wanted to get something. We wanted to get a quality of life.
Angela [00:22:41] We wanted to be able to make it to soccer practice. We want to take our kids to school.
B.J. Novak [00:22:46] I didn’t know you play soccer that seriously.
Angela [00:22:48] I’m sweeper B.J. Nothing’s getting into the goal. No, we just wanted to make our families first.
Jenna [00:22:56] And yeah, just have agency over our own schedules and our time and and pour that into our family as a priority. And we didn’t know how to get it. That took a long time. It took a lot of experimenting.
Angela [00:23:11] Years of kind of griping to each other.
Jenna [00:23:14] Yeah. But then eventually we did it. And here we are interviewing you on our podcast, which is the result of our wanting to get something.
Angela [00:23:24] And we didn’t know how to do it. No. As you were talking-
B.J. Novak [00:23:28] But it’s so much easier to figure out how to do it. Like the worst person to work with, someone who doesn’t know what they want. Oh my God, what a nightmare, right? You knew what you wanted. So now you’re like, I have no idea how to get this. But like, you figure that out.
Jenna [00:23:40] But you’re right. I’ve worked with directors who don’t know what they want, and it really puts everybody through the wringer. You know, you’re changing clothes a million times and you’re doing the role different ways and everyone- it really runs people into the ground. But someone with a very clear vision, then you’re on set and you’re like, OK, well, how do we do it? How do we make this happen? Like, just give me something that I can hang on to.
Angela [00:24:04] Right.
Jenna [00:24:05] If your vision is clear, we’ll get there.
B.J. Novak [00:24:08] Oh, I have one other very cynical piece of directing advice, and it does not make the top three… But it really worked. And someone said to me who had worked on The Office said, Here’s my advice. Take one shot that’s a special shot. Doesn’t have to make sense. It just like it stands out. Doesn’t quite fit. And the network will tell you you’re a great director because they’ll notice it and they’ll feel proud. And I did that. I think it was maybe in the Webisode- no, I think it was in this. There’s a shot where Creed is like standing by the doorway and waiting to go into the room. I don’t know which episode it was in. But literally, the network exec called me personally and was like, B.J., you are a great director. And it was that shot. And it was like it was a stretch that is- I mean, it didn’t break the Office style, but that is a cynical thing. And definitely when you see, like I’ve joked, the easiest way to win an Oscar is to be a cinematographer and decide to shoot the movie in glorious black and white. Like anything that calls attention to yourself as a director is so rewarded. So that is my cynical advice. If you do want it, if you’re- if you have the chance to direct something and you want people to think you’re good, do something visually unusual which will flatter the intelligence- Do one odd thing in every critic and every person will say, Ooh, you know, you’re good. Whereas if you just shoot intuitively like Harold Ramis, you know, is a great director. He directed a lot for us. But you know, his movies are classics, but no one talks about him as a great director because he didn’t call attention to himself. Rob Reiner to me is the greatest director of our lifetimes, because if you look at the movies he directed, they are the classics of their genres. He did Spinal Tap, which is the classic mockumentary. Stand By Me, classic coming of age. Princess Bride, classic family movie. Few Good Men, classic- and I don’t just mean classic, I mean the epitome of their genre. Harry Met Sally, epitome of romantic comedy. And people don’t talk about it, you know, because he just did it so right that he was invisible. If he had had, like, you know, an overhead camera in the ceiling fan in Harry Met Sally, everyone’d say, and he’s such a great director. But you know.
Jenna [00:26:25] B.J., that reminds me of a piece of acting advice that I got that I use all the time.
Angela [00:26:30] What?
Jenna [00:26:31] So in any project, if it’s a TV show or a movie, that my acting coach said, you pick one moment for your character that you decide in this project is your big moment of realization, a confession, something, you pick one. And before you say that line… you pause, move forward and then say it.
B.J. Novak [00:26:59] And take your glasses off. Your sunglasses off. Yeah.
Jenna [00:27:02] And he said even in auditioning, if you have just an audition scene, you pick one line in that audition scene where you pause and then you lean in before you say that line and you’ll get the part every time. I swear to God, after I got that piece of acting advice, I went on a bunch of auditions. I got callbacks for like 12 auditions in a row when I did that little move-in thing. And I still use it, I still use that.
B.J. Novak [00:27:28] That’s amazing.
Angela [00:27:29] OK, this is so funny to me.
B.J. Novak [00:27:30] Is that in your book?
Jenna [00:27:33] It’s not in my book because I didn’t want to steal his thunder. That’s uh, Robert D’Avanzo, my acting coach, and I put him in the book and I said, Call this guy and take his class. He’ll give you the best advice. But I guess now I’ve put it on my podcast. So, sorry, Robert.
Angela [00:27:48] My acting coach did something similar. She was this very amazing old, older woman, and she said that she was auditioning for a movie and she was from France, and she had an old crown like some dental work that as she was giving her big speech she felt pop off in her mouth. And so she paused with her tongue to put it back in to cover her tooth back. And the pause was so long the room became quiet. And then once she got her crown back over her tooth, she finished her line and the casting doctor said, That was the most powerful audition we have ever seen. She got the part. And so she was like, So sometimes, you know, pause. Like, that’s like my French impression. But and it does. It’s like, it’s the one moment that doesn’t make sense. And people are like, why doesn’t that make sense? What is happening?
B.J. Novak [00:28:41] Yes. That’s such a good way to distill the common thread of those two things. Yeah.
Jenna [00:28:48] Yeah.
Angela [00:28:48] Well, OK. We actually wanted to talk to you also about what it was like to shoot those two days in the school? You had a huge, big group of kids in a classroom. What was it like directing such a big group like that?
B.J. Novak [00:29:04] I guess an advantage of mine is I love talking to kids and groups of kids. Now they were probably, looking back, 18? Because the way the guilds work, you can work very different hours because of child labor for a kid over 18 or even over 16. The rules are very different, so you’ll generally cast people who just turned 18 and look young or just turned 16 and look young for roles that are supposed to be younger. So those kids were probably slightly over 18. That said, they were still like, you know, they kid energy playing. I just love talking to kids. You know, when I read my kid’s book, The Book With No Pictures to like a classroom, it’s like the happiest I am. So I guess to me, being like, All right, everybody, here’s what happens. You know this guy, Michael Scott, Steve over here, he did this. You know, they they knew what they got into. Again, you talk to everyone like they’re actors, including the background actors. Because it was mostly background actors in the class. Most kids didn’t speak. So just getting them, you know, in the mindset of it was really fun for me, they were real, you know, they had good spirit, they were professionals. And then I think it was Lee and Gene, cuz the writers are so involved on The Office- or were so involved. I think it was it was they who taught the kids like the chant and the dance, and they were amazing.
Jenna [00:30:53] I love Steve’s speech so much. I love his delivery of his speech. You know, from the beginning that he’s going to have to tell them. He’s going to have to give this speech. But everything about it is so great. He tries to get them to figure it out so he doesn’t have to say it. Which is amazing. And then he hands out the batteries.
Angela [00:31:15] Lithium.
Jenna [00:31:17] Not laptops or tuition, but some batteries for their laptops.
Angela [00:31:23] Yeah.
Jenna [00:31:25] Was that just Steve knowing Michael Scott so well?
B.J. Novak [00:31:36] Yeah. Yeah, that was just Steve knowing him so well. Maybe someone pitched, maybe the exact phrasing of, And what’s better than laptops, but laptop battery- or what do you need for laptops? I don’t know. But it’s a collaboration because you see where Steve’s going, so you might pitch him a line. But that was yeah, that was Steve completely. You know what also was great acting was in the photo where he’s surrounded by the kids phrased on his desk. Like even that is good photo acting. His optimistic smile.
Jenna [00:32:03] Yes. Oh my gosh.
B.J. Novak [00:32:05] He directed and he said it was so much easier than acting.
Jenna [00:32:10] Really?
B.J. Novak [00:32:10] Thought. I thought, Wow, that shows how much he’s putting into the acting.
Jenna [00:32:15] I mean, this is like always he was the total leader of this episode. He had so much. I mean, he just had to thread that needle and he did it so well.
Angela [00:32:26] We do want to talk to you about the movie you have coming out that you directed. Can you share with us about it?
B.J. Novak [00:32:32] It’s cool. It’s called Vengeance. And I wanted to do it. I saw a poster for a movie called Vengeance at the Cannes Film Festival, and I thought, I want to be in a movie called Vengeance. And I thought. But in a fun way, I was like, If I were in a movie, if you saw me on a movie poster for a movie called Vengeance, you’d know it was different. You know, it wouldn’t be like, Whoa, he’s a cool action star. You’d be like, That’s interesting. What would that? What’s that tone? And honestly, that’s where it came from at first. And then I had this plot idea that was, I just thought, really cool. And yeah, so I took it to Blumhouse because they had just done Get Out, which I thought was another movie that they- had been really popular despite having such challenging, interesting ideas. Because I didn’t just want to make a funky thing. I wanted it to be fun and funny and, you know, scary and all those things. So I mean, it was great to get to direct my first feature that had all of those elements, you know, that has-
Jenna [00:33:27] Wait so did you write it and direct it and you’re in it?
B.J. Novak [00:33:31] Mm hmm.
Jenna [00:33:32] Wow.
Angela [00:33:33] Triple threat, B.J.
B.J. Novak [00:33:34] Oh, come on. Three very unthreatening professions, I will say as a caveat. No one’s scared of someone who does those three things.
Jenna [00:33:42] B.J. When does your movie come out?
B.J. Novak [00:33:44] July 29th.
Angela [00:33:45] Vengeance. Out.
Jenna [00:33:47] B.J. Thank you so much for coming on Office Ladies We love you.
B.J. Novak [00:33:51] I love it. I love it. I love you both. I don’t see you enough. I love talking to you. I love remembering it from this lens with the two of you. It’s great.
Jenna [00:34:02] You’ve always been one of my favorite people from the time I met you working on this show. So, I love you.
B.J. Novak [00:34:10] Well, that is what a wonderful thing to say, and I feel exactly the same way. Immediate bonds. And I notice- I was going to say I noticed Angela’s silence here, and I would say I feel very similarly about Angela. But if it’s not requited, then what are you going to do.
Angela [00:34:27] Oh, B.J., I love you so much.
B.J. Novak [00:34:27] I know I felt that about both of you from the pilot, really. OK, see you soon. Family for life.
Angela [00:34:34] Family for life. B.J. Love you so much.
B.J. Novak [00:34:40] Bye.
Jenna [00:34:40] Well, that was so fun, Angela. I love talking to B.J., I love that we got into that cool discussion about directing. I felt like it’s when we had Mike Schur on and we were talking all about the writing process.
Angela [00:34:51] I know. I could listen to B.J. talk all day. Truly, he’s so smart. I love him so much. I love his brain. I told him that. I said, B.J., I love your brain. Is that a weird thing to say to someone?
Jenna [00:35:02] No, I love his brain as well.
Angela [00:35:03] It’s so good to be back in the studio. Hi, Cassi, we missed you.
Cassi [00:35:07] Hi. Welcome back.
Jenna [00:35:08] Thank you. Yes, I guess what we haven’t shared with everyone was that we actually took a two week break from the podcast. We made sure to double record episodes so that you didn’t miss us. But we were off recording the audio book for The Office BFFs.
Angela [00:35:25] Oh my gosh, you guys. I mean, I listen to audio books. I have a newfound respect for how they come together. We sat in a room together and read all day.
Jenna [00:35:34] It was a teeny tiny, little like padded room, truly, and we read our book.
Angela [00:35:40] One day at lunch I had hummus, and after lunch, my stomach kept making all these noises because I had a spicy hummus. It was so embarrassing. We had to stop the audio book and our amazing director, Dennis, had to go get a pillow and cover my stomach with a pillow. And he said, Don’t worry, Angela, it happens all the time.
Jenna [00:35:57] Yeah. And then the next day it happened to me. So the next day we’re recording our audio book. We both have pillows on our stomachs.
Angela [00:36:04] Oh my gosh, it was so embarrassing, but so much fun, you guys. I can’t wait for you to hear the audio book. We put our heart and soul into it, and so many office castmates make these great appearances in the audio book. I’m really proud of it. I can’t wait for you guys to hear it.
Jenna [00:36:19] Yeah, we really wanted to make it something separate from the book. You know, in the book, you’re going to get to see all of our personal photos. So we thought, Well, how could we put some special audio surprises in the audio book? So we can’t wait for you to hear it.
Angela [00:36:35] Yeah, our friends and castmates really came through.
Jenna [00:36:38] Well, it’s available for preorder now wherever you listen to audio books, and I think we should start breaking down this episode.
Angela [00:36:44] Let’s do it. This episode begins with a hilarious cold open. It’s Andy and Michael in Michael’s office. And guess what? Andy’s baby talk is back.
Jenna [00:36:55] I loved it. I love that Michael makes Andy read his baby talk off a card.
Angela [00:37:02] Oh, Jenna, I got so tickled in this scene. I literally like was giggling when Michael then reads Andy’s baby talk back to Andy. I mean, you have to hear it. You have to hear it.
Michael Scott [00:37:16] You are also on record as saying, Widow iddle, footy wootys, num nums, jammies, make boom-boom, widiculous, and wode iwand.
Andy [00:37:25] Do I sometimes replace R’s with W’s? Do I sometimes repeat a word to get my point across? Well, if I do, Andy’s sowee.
Michael Scott [00:37:33] You can’t be a baby in the office. It makes me look like I hire babies.
Angela [00:37:43] When he says it makes me look like I hire babies, he says it so seriously.
Jenna [00:37:48] You know, Angela, my cat, Andy.
Angela [00:37:51] Mm hmm.
Jenna [00:37:51] He used to say widiculous. When things bothered him, he would say, Oh my God, that is widiculous. It’s sewiously widiculous, mama.
Angela [00:38:00] You mean when you did your voice of your cat, Jenna?
Jenna [00:38:03] I channeled what he was actually saying, Angela.
Angela [00:38:08] Jenna has voices for all of her pets.
Jenna [00:38:12] Yup, Sunny has one. Maggie has one.
Angela [00:38:15] Oh, what’s Maggie’s? I know. I know Sonny’s.
Jenna [00:38:18] Maggie’s just is like this. Hey, guys. Hey, did you want this shoe? Do you want it? You can have it. Hey. Oh, what’s that? Oh, look that orange fella’s back again. Yeah.
Angela [00:38:31] Maggie’s just so optimistic about everything.
Jenna [00:38:33] She’s joyous. Maggie’s joyous. Although every single morning in our house it is like Groundhog Day. It is like Maggie is meeting Sonny for the first time. Every morning she reacts like, Oh my god, there’s a cat in the kitchen! I must follow it. I must get it. What is it? And they do this whole routine. And then about 45 minutes later, everybody’s fine again. But every morning, every morning, she is seeing the cat for the very first time in her life.
Angela [00:39:04] Every morning. Oh my gosh.
Jenna [00:39:04] It’s crazy.
Angela [00:39:05] That’s crazy.
Jenna [00:39:06] That’s ridiculous.
Angela [00:39:07] That’s ridiculous. This scene ends with Andy complimenting Michael’s Elvis impression. He said, other people don’t like it, but I like it. And Michael says- this made me laugh so hard- Michael goes, You’re welcome, baby.
Jenna [00:39:21] I know. It’s too good. Well, the main plot of this episode is going to get started when Andy bursts into Jim’s office.
Angela [00:39:29] Yeah. Dr. Tuna, M.D. We have terrible news.
Jenna [00:39:33] We have a serious case of the Mondays. And there’s one cure. We need an employee of the month contest.
Angela [00:39:41] Background catch in this scene.
Jenna [00:39:43] Tell me.
Angela [00:39:43] One minute, 54 seconds. Hang with me here. Over Andy’s shoulder through Jim’s clear glass panel, what do you see at front reception?
Jenna [00:39:53] The golf picture still on the wall?
Angela [00:39:55] That’s right.
Jenna [00:39:56] This is seven weeks this has been going on.
Angela [00:39:59] Mm hmm. Where’s Pam’s painting? Right after this as an Andy talking head. I had to bring it up, you guys, because he mentions he spent a summer at Enron. What all is Andy doing in his summers? So add it to the list. We have that he spent a summer at Enron, a summer in Toulouse apprenticing to be a fromagier, and he’s spent every summer at a dialect camp from age seven to 18 and then went on to be a counselor for 10 years. What is happening with Andy’s summers?
Jenna [00:40:32] How long are his summers?
Angela [00:40:33] Very long.
Jenna [00:40:34] They’re very crowded with things. I love this next scene so much, Angela. Erin is helping Michael attempt to clean out his inbox.
Angela [00:40:43] It had a little too close to home for me. Personally.
Jenna [00:40:46] Did it?
Angela [00:40:47] Mm hmm.
Jenna [00:40:47] One of my favorite things that Erin says she says he has a news alert for Nip Slip. And he says, Oh my gosh, that must be hackers. So there was another line in the script before Jim comes in to interrupt. Erin had a line where she said, You also have a news alert for nipple slip. And I thought that was so funny. I wish it had stayed in. But instead, we needed to get Jim in there.
Angela [00:41:15] Well, Michael has 836 messages in his inbox, and I just want to point out that my email is in worse shape than Michael’s.
Jenna [00:41:22] Oh no. Lady! You told me last night you cleared a bunch of stuff!
Angela [00:41:27] I did, but I it’s just still so large. That’s what she said.
Jenna [00:41:32] You need to organize it by unread and then go through and just click on all the ads and stuff that you never get rid of.
Angela [00:41:41] I’m trying. See what it says now?
Jenna [00:41:44] One thousand five hundred and eighty nine.
Angela [00:41:47] Yeah, my inbox is worse than Michael’s. What is yours, Jenna? Like seven?
Jenna [00:41:52] Eight.
Angela [00:41:53] Oh, I was so close!
Jenna [00:41:56] Eight unread. And I think one of those is still one of those um do you get those from baby center where they’re still telling you about your kids and milestones? Remember when you first signed up for them, you were pregnant and they were like a lima bean and then they were like a-.
Angela [00:42:10] Yeah, like an orange. And then, yeah. What I get is today in your memories from Shutterfly. And then I click on it and it like brings me to tears all the time because it’s my daughter being adorable.
Jenna [00:42:22] Well, maybe you want to keep those, but the other ones you got to click unsubscribe. You gotta stop the flow.
Angela [00:42:27] I got to stop the flow.
Jenna [00:42:28] I’ll help you one day.
Angela [00:42:29] OK.
Jenna [00:42:31] Well, listen, Jim is going to come in and he’s going to pitch this employee of the month idea and Michael’s like, Sure, go for it. But now we’re going to find out what’s really going on. Because Andy is going to tell Dwight that Jim totally went for their idea of Employee of the Month and Dwight’s like, No, no, that was your idea. Your idea.
Angela [00:42:51] Hmm. Dwight’s up to something.
Jenna [00:42:53] Mm hmm. What he’s up to is that in six hours, Jim will be fired by David Wallace.
Angela [00:42:58] Mm hmm.
Jenna [00:43:00] I’m interested to see how that goes down.
Angela [00:43:02] Hmm. Well, in the break room, Pam’s eating yogurt when Erin enters to ask her to look over an itinerary.
Jenna [00:43:09] That’s right. We had a fan catch from Kelsey in Kentucky, who said, When Phyllis, Pam and Erin are in the break room looking at the itinerary, it’s very obvious again how much purple is in the wardrobe design.
Angela [00:43:22] Oh, I noticed. And later in the bullpen, you’ll notice Angela Martin also has a purple lilac cardigan. It was a purple day.
Jenna [00:43:30] You and Kelsey are sharing a brain today.
Angela [00:43:32] We are.
Jenna [00:43:33] Well, this itinerary has one very interesting line item. Pam is surprised to learn that the Michael Scott Foundation is still in existence.
Angela [00:43:44] And Phyllis says, What’s Scott’s Tots?
Jenna [00:43:47] And Stanley starts laughing and says, Has it really been ten years?
Angela [00:43:51] I mean, Stanley isn’t just laughing. It is a laugh that comes like from a deep place of like, Oh, this guy is screwed and I am thrilled to watch it happen.
Jenna [00:44:03] Well, Stanley is going to hold up a newspaper. The headline reads, Local Businessman Pledges College Tuition to Third Graders. We kind of talked about this with B.J. a little bit, and we got a fan mail flurry about this newspaper article that Stanley’s holding up. Because it looks like the real Scranton Times.
Angela [00:44:23] It really does. This is fakey Phil Shea, but it’s done amazingly.
Jenna [00:44:27] It is actually a real Scranton Times newspaper. Randy Cordray explained how we made this amazing prop. So first, they hired a group of kids to take a picture with Michael Scott at school, and Kim Ferry even styled Steve’s hair in a retro Caesar style hairdo. You know that one that was made popular by George Clooney in the early years of E.R.?
Angela [00:44:50] Oh yes.
Jenna [00:44:51] Yes. I mean, that’s how detailed they were about this photo. They think Michael Scott would be into this hairdo. So then Phil Shea contacted the Scranton Times and asked for a copy of their newspaper from 10 years ago. And when he was looking through it, he said, do you think you would be willing to reproduce the local page? So not the front page, but the local page, with a different feature story at the bottom of the page so that we can use it on our show.
Angela [00:45:21] Wow.
Jenna [00:45:22] So the writers wrote a fake article, and Randy Shamanski, who worked at The Times, put it all together. He put his name as the writer in the byline and printed it for us.
Angela [00:45:33] Nice, Randy, thank you. Well, that’s why it looks so real.
Jenna [00:45:37] Yeah.
Angela [00:45:38] Well, there’s photos of it online, and there’s also some on office tally, and I’ll put some of those in our stories.
Jenna [00:45:43] Yes, the entire text of the article is on officetally.com, and I thought I would read one of my favorite passages. The whole thing is worth a read. But this one really goes with the episode. It says, “Talib Johnson, a student in Alice Kaye’s class, has dreams of becoming a doctor. Talib’s mother has already been trying to save for the daunting $120,000 cost of medical school, and she was not sure if it could ever be a reality. But now that Scott has offered to pick up the tab, Mrs. Johnson said that Talib would undoubtedly be going to an Ivy League university.” That’s in the article.
Angela [00:46:24] It’s very on theme.
Jenna [00:46:25] I know.
Angela [00:46:26] Well, Jenna, I have a little section I’m calling According to the Internet.
Jenna [00:46:30] Oh?
Angela [00:46:30] Yeah, when you type in Scott’s Tots, lots of stuff comes up. I’m going to share three with you. The first one is according to the internet, you might ask yourself, how much money would Michael have to pay for all of their tuition? Assuming all 15 of Scott’s Tots attended a four year private university, Michael would probably have to pay something around $1.9 million.
Jenna [00:46:56] Wow.
Angela [00:46:57] Yeah.
Jenna [00:46:58] So when he made this promise 10 years ago, he believed he would have so much money that he’d have like an extra two million.
Angela [00:47:05] That’s right. Number two, if you go to Oklahoma State University and Stillwater, Oklahoma, you can join a student club called Scott’s Tots.
Jenna [00:47:15] What does Scott’s Tots do?
Angela [00:47:17] According to the online newspaper of the school, the Oak Holly, staff reporter Jake Sellars wrote, Members of the Scotts Tots club meet weekly to stream and test their knowledge on NBC’s The Office. This semester, the club started fresh, mostly meeting in classroom building on Wednesdays, and it goes on to say, Although this club may be a time for some students to watch a show, for some, it is a time to connect. Hailey McCauley, senior business manager, is the secretary of Scotts Tots. McCauley joined in the fall of her freshman year, and she says they have trivia nights with prizes for the winners and quote, she says, It’s a really fun club. The article also included a flier they had made for their club. I’m going to put it in our stories.
Jenna [00:48:02] Oh, I love it. It’s got a Jim face on it and a Dundee.
Angela [00:48:05] Yeah, and the stapler in the Jell-O. It says it has their campus link and this is what it says, We watch The Office show and have trivia nights once a month. We have snacks exclamation point.
Jenna [00:48:17] Well, you and I are going.
Angela [00:48:18] I know. And then it says where you can join to be a member. And according to the internet number three, I found a ton, like too many to list, youth soccer teams named Scotts Tots all across the United States.
Jenna [00:48:31] Wow.
Angela [00:48:32] Mhm. You can go cheer on Scott’s Tots at almost any soccer field on a Saturday in America. So that’s some stuff I found on the internet. But we should go back to the break room because Pam has a very different reaction than Stanley to this information.
Jenna [00:48:46] I mean, Pam uses the word terrible, like five times. She feels like she’s not getting through to Michael. She’s like, Why would you promise something like that? This is a terrible thing, Michael. This is terrible. It’s just terrible.
Angela [00:49:02] And she’s like, You have to go tell them. Now.
Jenna [00:49:06] Did you see the article, Angela, where it sort of broke down there are two reactions to this episode from viewers. You’re either a Stanley or a Pam. Like it was saying you’re either a person who laughs through tragedy. You know, you’re that person at the funeral who gets the giggles.
Angela [00:49:25] Right.
Jenna [00:49:25] Or you have no sense of humor about it. They were sort of saying, like, if you’re a Pam, you probably can’t watch this episode.
Angela [00:49:33] Right. It’s a really interesting article. Actually, it’s on Decider.com. And I don’t know which one I am. I mean, I have a visceral reaction like, I feel so bad for these kids, and I also see Stanley finally getting to see Michael get his comeuppance.
Jenna [00:49:48] Yes. I don’t know which one I am, either. I enjoyed this episode, so I guess I must be a little Stanley.
Angela [00:49:56] Maybe we’re a combo.
Jenna [00:49:57] I don’t know who that would be. Are you and Erin then? Erin seems horrified, and yet also she still finds a positive spin at the end.
Angela [00:50:08] Yeah, maybe we’re Erin. The article said about people who are Stanleys, and I thought this was worded really well, They’re not heartless. They’re almost shocked to the point of hilarity.
Jenna [00:50:20] Right.
Angela [00:50:20] When something is so insanely absurd to you that someone could do that. You’re like, What? What?
Jenna [00:50:26] That’s their coping mechanism.
Angela [00:50:27] Yeah. Whereas Pam, it’s just all just torturous.
Jenna [00:50:32] Yeah. Well, I was really disappointed because I didn’t get to go with Michael. As an actor, I wanted to see Pam take Michael to this moment in his life. But Pam refuses to go.
Angela [00:50:49] Right.
Jenna [00:50:51] Erin’s going to have to do it. But I was very jealous as an actor.
Angela [00:50:55] That you didn’t get to go spend the day with Steve and watch him do these amazing scenes.
Jenna [00:50:59] Yes.
Angela [00:51:00] Well, Michael now has this famous talking head. We talked about it a little bit with B.J., where he says, I just, you know, I fell in love with those kids. And so he made them a promise. He wanted to help them. He wanted to see them graduate from high school and he would pay for their college.
Jenna [00:51:15] Yes. This is sort of the explanation behind this predicament behind the premise for this episode. We got a fan question from Erin in Oxford, Ohio, who said this. I recently watched The Big Lebowski, and there is a specific scene that caught my eye. In the scene, The Dude is visiting Mr. Lebowski’s house. During the visit, he’s given a tour of the study and notices a picture on the Wall of Mr. Lebowski, surrounded by a bunch of smiling high school age children. The Dude asks, Oh, are those Mr Lebowski’s children? To which the butler replies, They’re not literally his children. They’re the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers; inner city children of promise, but without the necessary means for a higher education. So Mr. Lebowski has committed to sending all of them to college. My question is, did the writers have it in their head that Michael saw this movie and that this might have led him to making a similar promise? Or is it just a coincidence? I had to find out. So I reached out to Gene and Lee, who wrote this episode, and they said that the idea for this episode actually came from Paul Lieberstein. Paul confirmed this, and when I asked him if the idea was inspired by The Big Lebowski, he said no, that he wasn’t even aware of that scene in the movie. Paul said that there was a real story of a businessman who did this with extraordinary success back in the 1990s. He thinks maybe it was Chicago. He couldn’t quite remember. But it was a high school where the graduation rate was incredibly low. But within the group of kids that he made this promise to, all of them went to college. And Paul just remembered the photo in the newspaper, and he said that seems like something Michael Scott would do. That Michael, because of his good heart and being so sure that he would be a millionaire by the time these kids graduated, that he would want to help and he would make this promise. He said, quote, It felt like a really honest problem coming from this character. So that was the inspiration, was this article that he had seen of someone doing this successfully and thinking Michael Scott wouldn’t do it successfully though, would he?
Angela [00:53:44] He’d want to do it, but he wouldn’t be able to follow through.
Jenna [00:53:46] Yeah, so he said the idea was his, but Lee and Gene made it their own. They came up with the dance, the batteries, he said that was all them. But that was the inspiration behind Scott’s Tots.
Angela [00:53:59] Well, I love that. I always love finding out the inspiration for our episodes.
Jenna [00:54:03] It’s usually some little thing that just stuck with someone.
Angela [00:54:05] Yeah. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Dwight is continuing to act strange.
Jenna [00:54:12] Yeah, he’s showering Jim with compliments. And then he provides him with a spreadsheet so that Jim can rank everyone based on performance for his Employee of the Month project. He says he’ll run it over to Toby and the accounting department, so it’ll just be like, totally-.
Angela [00:54:31] Impartial. They’ll run the data.
Jenna [00:54:32] Exactly. Just data based.
Angela [00:54:35] Yeah.
Jenna [00:54:35] Did you notice during this scene what Rainn took out of the fridge at the beginning? Like his excuse for going into the kitchen is to get something out of the fridge to run into Jim?
Angela [00:54:46] No. What was it?
Jenna [00:54:48] Mustard.
Angela [00:54:49] What’s he doing with mustard?
Jenna [00:54:50] I don’t know.
Angela [00:54:52] Did he do anything with it?
Jenna [00:54:53] He does nothing with the mustard. But when they pull back wide, there are more things on the counter that he has gotten out of the fridge. He also got out jelly and I think barbecue sauce.
Angela [00:55:04] Gross.
Jenna [00:55:05] So he’s definitely, I guess, heavy in the condiments.
Angela [00:55:11] Is jelly a condiment? I say no.
Jenna [00:55:13] Is jelly a condiment? I mean, you put it on- is butter a condiment?
Angela [00:55:18] I’m gonna say no.
Jenna [00:55:18] What is a condiment?
Angela [00:55:20] Isn’t a condiment like, well, I guess, isn’t it like the extras? So maybe you’re right.
Jenna [00:55:26] I mean, what is a condiment?
Angela [00:55:29] Like salt and pepper?
Jenna [00:55:30] No, that’s a spice. Oh, I’m sorry. The definition of condiment is a substance such as salt or ketchup that is used to add flavor to food.
Angela [00:55:43] Thank you.
Jenna [00:55:43] Spices are condiments?
Angela [00:55:46] Look who was right about something.
Jenna [00:55:48] I found a chart that lists the calories in different condiments. Did you know honey is considered a condiment?
Angela [00:55:55] Well, that makes sense now.
Jenna [00:55:56] They’re listing marinara as a condiment.
Angela [00:56:00] It enhances flavor.
Jenna [00:56:02] Everything enhances flavor. An onion enhances flavor. Garlic.
Angela [00:56:08] Does it have to be um?
Jenna [00:56:10] Do you have to squeeze it out of a bottle?
Angela [00:56:12] Does it have to be? Yeah. Does it have to be in something?
Jenna [00:56:16] What is a condiment? I need more information.
Angela [00:56:19] We need more information on condiments.
Jenna [00:56:22] Hold on. Is jelly a condiment? Jelly and jam are usually viewed as condiments, but peanut butter is not. Salsa is considered a condiment, but guacamole is not.
Angela [00:56:39] Here’s what I’m thinking. Condiments either have to be something you sprinkle or like kind of more of a liquidy form.
Jenna [00:56:45] Not according to Wikipedia, which says a condiment is a supplemental food such as a sauce or powder.
Angela [00:56:53] Aha! Sprinkle and liquid. That supports my theory.
Jenna [00:56:57] Hmm.
Angela [00:56:58] If it’s more of a solid substance, it’s not a condiment. If you can sprinkle it or pour it, it’s a condiment.
Jenna [00:57:03] If you can chop it, it’s not a condiment.
Angela [00:57:05] Sprinkle and pour. All right. Are we ready to move on from the condiments?
Jenna [00:57:11] Maybe.
Angela [00:57:11] Oh no. My God, you’re making a lot of hmm. Sounds like you know what? Jenna when you do that hmm it means you disagree.
Jenna [00:57:17] I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Icing. Icing as a condiment? So when I’m eating a cupcake, I’m eating cake with a condiment on top?
Angela [00:57:29] Makes sense to me.
Jenna [00:57:31] Really?
Angela [00:57:32] Jenna’s doing it.
Jenna [00:57:34] Hmm.
Angela [00:57:34] I knew it! If you’re ever in a conversation with Jenna and she goes, Hmm, it means she is slightly judging you and disagrees.
Jenna [00:57:43] Well, Wikipedia says peanut butter is a condiment, so clearly, I don’t know.
Angela [00:57:48] Clearly there’s a debate. So Dwight has put a bunch of random condiments on the counter.
Jenna [00:57:54] He has. And I have no where to go from there. That’s the end. We can move on.
Angela [00:57:59] He clearly isn’t intending on doing anything with them. He’s just doing busy work so he can set up Jim to fail.
Jenna [00:58:06] Next up, Michael and Erin are going to arrive at the high school, and I have a little location breakdown for you. Fan question from Cyrus in Bloomfield, Michigan. Were the school scenes filmed at a local L.A. school? Yes, they were. We shot the interiors and exteriors at Van Nuys Middle School, which is a steam magnet school on Vesper Avenue in Van Nuys, California. We were there for two days. Monday and Tuesday, October 3rd and 4th. By the way, this is also where they shot the school location for the TV show Fresh Off the Boat.
Angela [00:58:42] Well, I had a recurring guest star on Fresh Off the Boat.
Jenna [00:58:45] Do you know if you ever went to the school?
Angela [00:58:46] I think we did one day because I was at a PTA meeting. I was like the the mean lady- shocker. Well, there’s a lot of great little details at the school. Phil Shea outdid himself. I loved the plaque that said Michael Gary Scott Reading Room. And Erin’s like, You’re famous.
Jenna [00:59:06] Yes.
Angela [00:59:07] Michael has cold feet about seeing everyone, but Mikela greets them and insists they just want to give him a big thank you.
Jenna [00:59:13] I know. Mikela was played by Isheba Renee. She posted on Instagram that she still has her shirt from this episode.
Angela [00:59:22] Oh, she got to keep her Scott’s Tots shirt. That’s so cool.
Jenna [00:59:25] She was so good, and she is going to lead Michael into this classroom full of kids all wearing Scott’s Tots shirts.
Angela [00:59:34] I mean, huge applause. They’re so excited he’s there.
Jenna [00:59:38] We find out that they have prepared something for him, which is a song and dance routine. We had a fan question from Harmjin V in the Netherlands. The dance routine of the tots is awesome. Where did you find these actors, dancers? And Lisa from New Jersey asked who choreographed the dance routine? Well, Randy Cordray shared with us that the choreographer was Tony Gonzalez, and he had done choreography for Bring It On Again and Bring It On All Or Nothing. You know, he’s currently doing the choreography for The Masked Singer, and he cast the eight specialty dancers. The dancers were Danielle E. Hawkins, Glenda Morales, David Easel, Katrina Norman, Chris Moss, Oscar Orosco, Jonathan Rice and Quentin Burdette. We only had two days of rehearsals with the dancers. They set up a rehearsal space over on our warehouse stage. They were so good.
Angela [01:00:41] They were so good. There is no way in a million years that I could learn anything like that in two days.
Jenna [01:00:47] No.
Angela [01:00:48] It’s just a gift. You just have it.
Jenna [01:00:50] You know, I danced growing up. There was a time when I could do that. That time is not now anymore. I tried during the pandemic to take up my tap dancing again. I got a little tap dance floor.
Angela [01:01:03] I remember this!
Jenna [01:01:04] And I was tapping. And I thought, I’m going to learn a tap routine to Footloose.
Angela [01:01:10] Oh! Like (SINGS) you’ve got to cut loose?
Jenna [01:01:14] Yeah, and I found like an instructional video on YouTube and I was like, This is going to be great. It’s going to be so fun. I mean, it was like forty five seconds long. Weeks. Weeks I spent on this very beginner tap routine. I never posted it. I have like a gazillion videos of myself in my garage on my tap floor.
Angela [01:01:36] Can I please see one? Can I please put it in pod stories? Not to laugh at you! Not to laugh at you.
Jenna [01:01:42] To laugh with me? Because I was not even laughing yet. So someone’s laughing. Maybe. Maybe.
Angela [01:01:51] OK, well, I thought the dancers did a fantastic job.
Jenna [01:01:54] They did. We also had a fan question from Laura in Warren, Ohio, who said, who wrote the song Hey, Mr. Scott? Well, Lee and Gene wrote the lyrics for the song, and Eve Nelson wrote the music. Eve is an Emmy winning composer who did a lot of specialty work for us, such as composing the music for Subtle Sexuality. The Webisode.
Angela [01:02:18] The one we listened to last week!
Jenna [01:02:19] Yes, that Mindy sings! She also did all the music for Threat Level Midnight. I thought we should hear an audio clip of Hey, Mr. Scott.
Angela [01:02:28] Ooh!
Scott’s Tots [01:02:30] Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. Hey, Mr. Scott, What you gonna do? What you gonna do, make our dreams come true. Hey, Mr. Scott, what you gonna do? What you gonna do, make our dreams come true. He came into to lives and made a promise that made us honest. Made us realize we don’t need to compromise because we can’t have it all. Cuz you made it possible for us to achieve the improbable. Hey, hey, hey, hey, Mr. Scott, what you gonna do? What you gonna do? Make our dreams come true.
Jenna [01:03:05] So good. Eve Nelson.
Angela [01:03:09] Eve coming through again. And I can’t wait now to see Threat Level Midnight.
Jenna [01:03:12] I know and see all that music.
Angela [01:03:14] It’s funny that you bring up the webisodes because just last week we were talking about it. But I also mentioned the bobbleheads last week that Joya Balfour, who worked for NBC.com, was going to bring all these bobbleheads to the set, right?
Jenna [01:03:27] Yeah.
Angela [01:03:27] For me to feature in adventures with Angela. Lady, on set that day, she said. Angela, would you like all of these bobbleheads? Like you can have one of all the cast members since you’re doing this for us. And I said, Oh my God, I would. And she goes, OK, let me let me see, but I think I can get you a whole set of full cast member bobbleheads. And I was like, Oh, that’ll be so fun. Maybe I’ll like line them like on a shelf in my house.
Jenna [01:03:49] That is so cool. Do you have them?
Angela [01:03:51] OK, so here’s the thing. Years ago, she was like, Angela, I got the bobbleheads for you. When do you want them? And I was moving and I was like, Oh, I’m moving right now. Can we figure out- and Jenna, I don’t know. Life happened. Years went by. Joya reached out to me and said, Angela, I’ve had these bobbleheads for 15 years.
Jenna [01:04:08] What? Like just recently she reached out?
Angela [01:04:10] Yeah. She was like, They’re in boxes. Can I bring them to you? I said, Oh my gosh, Joya, yes. So we met for coffee and we caught up. Fifteen years of life and marriage and kids. And Jenna, she opened up her trunk and it was full of bobbleheads. I took a picture of her standing by her trunk. I now have all of these bobbleheads.
Jenna [01:04:31] That is so crazy because, you know, when we were going through all of our bins of stuff for the book, I found an Oscar bobblehead and a Jim bobblehead and a Pam bobblehead and a Dwight bobblehead. That’s all I have.
Angela [01:04:45] I will tell you the bobblehead I didn’t know I need, but I definitely needed, was Phyllis.
Jenna [01:04:50] Ooh is Phyllis’ good?
Angela [01:04:51] Phyllis’ is so great. Joya went on to tell me while we were having coffee, she said, You know, it’s kind of crazy. I’ve had all these bobbleheads, but I also have something that I think a lot of people wanted but I ended up getting. And I was like, Do tell. Guess who has the original unicorn Barbie?
Jenna [01:05:09] What?!
Angela [01:05:09] Yes. And here’s Joya sharing about it.
Joya [01:05:12] The story of how I acquired the Princess Unicorn Barbie doll is really fun. I, of course, was the digital producer for the show, working at NBC. And I had read the script for Moroccan Christmas, the episode that it appeared in, and I wanted to use it for our Dunder Mifflin Infinity virtual game. And I also wanted to build a website for Princess Unicorn because it seemed like this crazy, funny thing that a little website would just be hilarious for. If you’re a big fan of the show, you know that we did a ton of these little one-off websites all the time. So Princess Unicorn Doll dot com was one of them. And what’s really interesting is that NBC let the domain expire some years ago and someone bought it up and kept the exact same website there. So you can actually go see the website. And thank you to whoever bought that and kept the same website up. I appreciate you. So I wanted to use it for the game. It was a virtual item that you could purchase for your Dunder Mifflin office if you were playing the game, and it was a very rare item. So the props department actually gave the doll to me. They had two versions of the doll that they made and they gave me one to photograph back at my office at NBC. So I did that, and for whatever reason, no one at the show asked me for the doll back. And the show ended and everyone went on their separate ways. And I eventually left NBC and this doll came with me, and it’s been in my house as this kind of prized memento from the show. You know, for almost 10 years, I’ve had this doll. It’s the one memento from the show I don’t think I will ever give up because it’s it’s pretty amazing. So that is my princess unicorn doll story.
Jenna [01:07:04] I cannot believe…
Angela [01:07:07] She has one of the original. They were only two and she has one of them.
Jenna [01:07:12] Well, now I know how to get original props. You have to be like, You know what? I’d love to build a website, but I’m going to need that to photograph it. And then I’m going to just wait for you to ask for it back.
Angela [01:07:28] And if you don’t, you don’t.
Jenna [01:07:30] That is amazing.
Angela [01:07:32] Amazing. It was so good to see Joya. And Joya, thank you so much for the bobbleheads. I’ll have to like, display them and show you guys.
Jenna [01:07:39] Well on that note, let’s take a break. And when we come back, we’ll check in on Dwight. We’ll see what he’s up to. And then, oh boy.
Angela [01:07:48] Michael has a big announcement to make.
Jenna [01:07:50] He does.
Angela [01:07:55] Dwight is now going around collecting money. He starts with Kevin. 20 bucks to chip in for employee of the month, per Jim’s request. Oscar contributes as well. He doesn’t need Dwight’s speech. During this whole moment, guess who’s playing solitaire?
Jenna [01:08:09] I saw it. I saw it once again, actively moving cards on her free cell game.
Angela [01:08:15] Kate Flannery in the background as Meredith playing a very quick game of solitaire.
Jenna [01:08:20] Listen, Dwight’s plan is five minutes ahead of schedule.
Angela [01:08:23] Right on schedule.
Jenna [01:08:25] Mm hmm. It’s working. Back at the school, a teacher is up at the front of the room and she is like profusely thanking Michael for following through on his promise to send these kids to school. And then a student gets up and says, Basically, you’re my guardian angel. Michael is crying. Oh boy. It’s just… Michael.
Angela [01:08:51] The way they wrote the scene to build is so great because with each thing, you’re getting just a kick to the stomach. And then it ends with Michael.
Jenna [01:09:03] The woman who’s giving this thank you speech was played by Monnae Michaell. I hope I’m saying your name right. She’s amazing. She began her career as a musical theater actress. She has been nominated for an NAACP theater award, and she performed in an award winning one woman show. She’s also had recurring roles on The Good Place and The Defenders, as well as a ton of other film and television roles.
Angela [01:09:27] Well, she set the bar for this scene because it’s so heartfelt her appreciation as you would be because you’re sending these kids to college. Like the level of accountability that the scene starts with is like, Oh crap, Michael, oh Michael.
Jenna [01:09:44] Well, it’s Michael’s turn to speak. This is the moment. The crowd is cheering.
Angela [01:09:50] Michael says he’ll never forget today.
Jenna [01:09:53] Oh, and then he asked the kids for a show of hands. He wants to know how many of you have ever made a stupid mistake?
Angela [01:10:02] He’s trying to get them on his side before giving them this terrible news.
Jenna [01:10:08] I kind of thought we needed to hear it.
Angela [01:10:10] Oh, no, really?
Jenna [01:10:12] I don’t know.
Angela [01:10:13] Oh God. Oh God.All right. Now, in this moment, I’m a Pam. OK, let’s hear it.
Michael Scott [01:10:18] I came here today because I promised you tuition and tuition is very valuable. But you know what’s invaluable? Is intuition. You know what that is? That is the ability to know when something is about to happen. Does anybody out there have intuition? Know what’s going to happen next? Nobody? OK, you’re going to make me say it. All right. I am so proud of all of you. Derek and Leferve and Ben and Ayana and Mikela and Nikki and Jason. And I’m sorry. OK, sorry spacing your name.
Zion [01:10:59] I’m Zion. I’m Mikela’s younger brother.
Michael Scott [01:11:01] Well, Zion, I am not going to be paying for your tuition. Which brings me to my main point, and that is that I will not be able to pay for anybody’s tuition. I’m so, so sorry.
Angela [01:11:19] Ugh, listen-
Jenna [01:11:21] I’m sorry for all the people out there who skip Scott’s Tots. I just played the worst part for you. You know, the cringiest part.
Angela [01:11:28] I watched this episode three times. That’s usually how many times I watched an episode as we prep each week for the podcast, and I might need a break from it now.
Jenna [01:11:38] He goes on to try to be a hero. We talked about this with B.J.. He has Erin wheel in this humongous suitcase, which you think are going to be filled with laptops.
Angela [01:11:49] Which is some saving grace. A laptop, not college tuition, but a laptop. But no.
Jenna [01:11:55] It’s just the lithium batteries for a laptop. Guys, those are fakey batteries. At 14 minutes, 46 seconds, the graphics for the laptop battery boxes were created by our graphic designer Henry Saine, and packaged up by Phil Shea. Fakey batteries.
Angela [01:12:11] Fakey battery.
Jenna [01:12:12] Well, back at the office, Jim’s about to have his own cringe moment.
Angela [01:12:16] I love how they edited these scenes because you go from Michael being in hot water to Jim being in hot water.
Jenna [01:12:21] Yes, Jim is going to announce the employee of the month. According to this data, it’s employee number nine. Who is employee number nine?
Angela [01:12:30] It’s Jim.
Jenna [01:12:32] Oh boy. People are instantly furious. They don’t even take a beat to be like, Oh, maybe there was an error. No, they’re instantly like youuuu.
Jenna [01:12:41] Yes, Jim won a thousand dollars.
Angela [01:12:43] Yeah, and got his own parking spot.
Jenna [01:12:45] Oh my gosh, he’s like, No, no, no. This is obviously a mistake. Who’s second on the list? We need the second person on the list. Uh oh.
Angela [01:12:54] It’s Jim’s wife, Pam.
Jenna [01:12:56] Oh boy. How is that even possible? But Pam is going to defend herself as the winner.
Angela [01:13:04] Yeah, she’s like, No wait, come on. I didn’t miss a day. I came in early, I stayed late and I doubled my sales last month. Andy he goes, Oh, really? From what? Two to four?
Jenna [01:13:13] Yup.
Angela [01:13:14] That is one of your most famous memes.
Jenna [01:13:16] I have texted it to people. I’ve texted my own meme to people. The Yup.
Angela [01:13:21] I have texted an Angela eyeroll to people. My own meme. I see that yup everywhere, Jenna.
Jenna [01:13:27] I know.
Angela [01:13:27] And it’s so perfect. It made me laugh. Even though I know it, it still made me laugh.
Jenna [01:13:32] It made me laugh while I was doing it. You’d be surprised how difficult it was to get just one word without me breaking.
Angela [01:13:41] Yup.
Jenna [01:13:41] Mm hmm. Well, it’s going to get even worse. You think it can’t get worse for Jim? But now there’s going to be a cake delivered with his face on it.
Angela [01:13:49] This was a real cake, you guys. We actually ate this cake.
Jenna [01:13:53] We did.
Angela [01:13:53] I had a slice of it. It was delicious. It was a real distorted angle of John’s face.
Jenna [01:14:01] It was a little bit.
Angela [01:14:02] It was like when someone takes a photo of you and they go like, chin up. I actually had my camera on set that day and I took a picture of the cake. I’ll put it in the stories.
Jenna [01:14:14] The cake delivery man was played by Charlie Sanders, who is a writer, actor and co-producer of Key and Peele, for which he was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing three years in a row.
Angela [01:14:27] I love Key and Peele.
Jenna [01:14:28] Me too.
Angela [01:14:29] Oh my God, it cracks me up.
Jenna [01:14:31] We hung out with Key and Peele.
Angela [01:14:32] We did. We were on a private plane with them.
Jenna [01:14:35] The only time I’ve ever been on a private plane.
Angela [01:14:36] Well same. Yes. Caesar’s Palace flew Jenna and Keegan and Jordan to play in this poker tournament. You took me as a plus one. They flew us to New Orleans. We got on this private plane with these guys and we played euchre, the whole plane ride. I love euchre. We couldn’t believe other people knew euchre. It’s a card game. We love them. They’re so fun. The cake is not the last thing on Dwight’s list of diabolical plans.
Jenna [01:15:03] No, he riles everybody up, but it only works if people complain to David Wallace.
Angela [01:15:09] So Dwight starts calling David Wallace’s office, pretending to be everyone else.
Jenna [01:15:15] It’s so good. I actually I thought we needed to hear it. He is going to leave messages as Kevin, as Stanley and as Toby. I think my favorite part is like his body language-.
Angela [01:15:28] Changes!
Jenna [01:15:29] As he is doing all the voices, he’s like spinning his hair with his finger tip when he’s being Toby. He’s like all slumped on the ground. But here it is. You have to hear it.
Dwight [01:15:39] This is Kevin Malone. Is David there?
Receptionist [01:15:43] No, he’s on his weekly staff meeting, can I take a message?
Dwight [01:15:45] Tell him I’m mad at Jim because he’s asking us to give money to Pam. This is Stanley Hudson. Jim Halpert is a menace. It’s Toby Flenderson. Listen, things are getting really bad down here.
Angela [01:16:04] Those are so funny to me. But Jenna there was a one more.
Jenna [01:16:09] There was?
Angela [01:16:09] Yes, it didn’t make it in the final cut, but it’s in deleted scenes. It’s a little R-rated, so maybe that’s why it didn’t make it. Here is Dwight calling, pretending to be Meredith.
Dwight [01:16:22] It’s Meredith Palmer. Listen, kid. I’m going to be drunk as a skunk, and you don’t have to tell me about crotch injuries. But Jim Halpert is a (BLEEP) prick.
Jenna [01:16:34] Oh, my gosh.
Angela [01:16:36] I know. So imagine David Wallace keeping all of these messages.
Jenna [01:16:43] Yeah, Jim is definitely going to be hearing from David Wallace later. But back at the school, Michael and Erin are leaving. They are disgraced. But as they’re leaving, one of the students runs out and just kind of confronts Michael. He’s like, dude, this is like really messed up. And Michael just apologizes again, and he says, You know what? I’ll pay for your books.
Angela [01:17:10] It’s the least I can do.
Jenna [01:17:11] Yeah. And he’s like, OK, well, books are like a thousand dollars. I mean, that’s a lot.
Angela [01:17:16] And Michael’s like, that’s like, ooh, $200 a year.
Jenna [01:17:20] And the kid’s, like, it’s a thousand dollars a year.
Angela [01:17:23] So Michael writes a few checks for a thousand dollars. He says, Please notify me before you cash these, I have to move some money around.
Jenna [01:17:30] Yes. And he has to hold them for like a couple of years, each one for a year. Well, listen, the actor who played the student is so good. His name is Kwami Boateng. He is part of a trio, an acting trio, his brothers. They’re referred to as the K Brothers. He’s amazing. He did a bunch of films and television, but now he is actually the CEO of his own company called The Boateng Group.
Angela [01:17:57] Wow.
Jenna [01:17:58] Yeah. So he’s kind of moving and shaking in the business world now. And we also had a fan catch in this scene from Matthew in Franklin, Indiana. At 16 minutes, forty eight seconds, you can see snow outside the school.
Angela [01:18:11] Oh yeah, fakey snow.
Jenna [01:18:13] Well, that fake snow was provided by our special effects technician, Mike Thompson. According to Randy Cordray, it was actually a warm and sunny day in Van Nuys, about 75 degrees. But we threw down some fakey snow.
Angela [01:18:26] Back in Jim’s office, he does get a very frustrated call from David Wallace. I think we need to point out at eighteen minutes, seven seconds, the Phoebe Snow is back.
Jenna [01:18:38] It is?
Angela [01:18:39] The train painting is in Jim’s office. The Phoebe Snow is back.
Jenna [01:18:43] That is so weird that it was missing for one episode.
Angela [01:18:46] I don’t know. Or maybe it’s just the way they angled the camera. Maybe you just couldn’t see it, and I thought it was missing?
Jenna [01:18:52] Well, it’s back. Did it make your heart happy?
Angela [01:18:55] It really did.
Jenna [01:18:56] You know, lady, if you love trains, you should play this board game called Ticket to Ride.
Angela [01:19:01] I love Ticket to Ride. I know Ticket to Ride.
Jenna [01:19:03] Oh, we just discovered Ticket to Ride. Our friends sent it to us, and now my kids are obsessed.
Angela [01:19:08] Yeah.
Jenna [01:19:09] You’ve known about ticket to ride all this time? I was going to gift it to you. I’m glad you told me you have it.
Angela [01:19:13] Oh yeah.
Jenna [01:19:15] OK.
Angela [01:19:16] We love games at my house. You know, we’re big family game night.
Jenna [01:19:18] Well, this was combining two of your loves, trains and a game.
Angela [01:19:22] We also really love the Oregon Trail old school board game version, not the computer version we grew up on.
Jenna [01:19:27] Now, according to your deep dive last week, would a covered wagon be considered a limousine?
Angela [01:19:32] Separation of driver and cargo? I think a completely covered wagon would be. Yes.
Jenna [01:19:40] What part of the covered wagon is uncovered? The little hole in the back?
Angela [01:19:42] Sometimes they have a front flap that they keep open.
Jenna [01:19:46] But I mean, same in a limousine. The little thing goes down and up.
Angela [01:19:49] No, I agree. I’m I’m I am agreeing this is me agreeing with you. I think a completely covered wagon with a driver outside would constitute as a limousine.
Jenna [01:19:59] Wow.
Angela [01:20:00] Limousine.
Jenna [01:20:02] Tell like the early pioneers that they were actually taking limousines to the gold rush. They might be surprised.
Angela [01:20:10] Back to this phone call between Jim and David. Dwight kind of overhears that it’s not going well. Right?
Jenna [01:20:16] He’s like all excited.
Angela [01:20:17] He’s so excited. Jim’s like, I don’t know how it happened. Dwight’s like, I know how it happened. Dwight goes back in there doing his little mom detective, drops a folder, grabs his spy pen that’s been in there the whole time.
Jenna [01:20:28] As it turns out, this phone call that starts out angry ends amicably.
Angela [01:20:35] David apologizes. He’s like, Look, I’m taking out some stuff on you. OK, hey, am I going to see you at dinner? And Dwight’s like, Nooo!
Jenna [01:20:40] I know. He forgot. Jim and David Wallace are chums.
Angela [01:20:45] They’re pals.
Jenna [01:20:47] The final scene with Michael and Erin, they’re driving back. Erin can’t stop singing the song. But then she says, You know, Michael, the principal, told me that 90 percent of Scott’s Tots are on track to graduate, which is 35 percent higher than the rest of the school. So, you know, you did do a good thing here.
Angela [01:21:08] This warms Michael’s heart. He hasn’t always been that nice to Erin. He’s kind of abrupt with her. She’s not Pam, which he lets her know routinely. And he says to her, You know what? You’re doing great. And he wants to know, what does she hope for?
Jenna [01:21:25] Yeah. What would she like for her future?
Angela [01:21:28] She says she would like to be an accountant, even though she’s terrible at math. I will tell you this is a great nod to the webisode series The Mentor where Erin tells the accounting department she wants to be an accountant.
Jenna [01:21:39] We talked about it last week and I totally clocked it when she said that.
Angela [01:21:43] We also learned something about Kevin’s story in this moment, which is he was applying for a job in the warehouse, and Michael said, You know what, I have a feeling about you.
Jenna [01:21:56] I think you should an accountant. Ah. Well, this episode ends with a tag. All of a sudden, Ryan appears in this episode, and he finds Dwight’s diabolical plan.
Angela [01:22:09] Yeah, Dwight left it in the copier.
Jenna [01:22:11] He wants in. He wants to take Jim down.
Angela [01:22:14] Ooh!
Jenna [01:22:15] That’s how this episode ends. Well, I had a couple of little tidbits that I thought I would share. I didn’t know where to put these, so I’m putting them here at the end. The first was a piece of mail we got from Julia S in Madison, Wisconsin. This is cringey. She said, I work at a nonprofit company and we had a program that ended up being a Scott’s Tots reincarnate.
Angela [01:22:41] Oh no.
Jenna [01:22:42] She said the goal of the program was to encourage parents of elementary school kids to begin putting away a small amount of money every month that would go toward their kids’ college tuitions. She said, My company promised that if they did that, the company would give a huge scholarship to each child when they began college. But after a couple of years, the company decided it was too big of a promise to pay scholarships to all the kids, and the program had to send out an email to let everyone know that the scholarships weren’t going to happen.
Angela [01:23:16] Oh my gosh!
Jenna [01:23:17] She said, Me and my colleagues now cringe every time someone mentions this failed program. And when we talk about it, we call it Scott’s Tots. But I can’t leave us on that note. So I wanted to leave you with this real life story called Dale’s Kids.
Angela [01:23:37] I want to hear about Dale’s kids.
Jenna [01:23:39] Dale Schroeder was described in his local paper as a simple man who grew up poor, never went to college, never got married, and worked at the same business as a carpenter for sixty seven years. They said he had a pair of work jeans, a pair of church jeans, and a Chevy truck. When he passed away in 2005, he did not have any descendants. But after nearly 70 years of carpentry and frugal living, he had saved nearly $3 million. Most of that money went into a scholarship fund, which helped 33 people go to college free of charge. The kids who benefited from the scholarship all gathered recently to talk about the impact that the scholarship had on their lives. They are now doctors, teachers, a therapist. They said that the money came with only one caveat; the request was please pay this forward.
Angela [01:24:36] Aww.
Jenna [01:24:36] You can’t pay Dale back, but you can remember him and emulate him. And that is the legacy of Dale Schroeder. And they affectionately call themselves Dale’s Kids.
Angela [01:24:47] Oh, that is so lovely. Oh, Jenna, that is wonderful. Well, I had a quote to end this episode on and now I feel bad saying it, because that’s such a nice sentiment to end on.
Jenna [01:24:58] Well, I still want to hear your quote, lady.
Angela [01:25:01] All right. This is from cheat sheet dot com.
Jenna [01:25:04] All right. We’re taking a pivot here, folks.
Angela [01:25:08] This is about this episode, and I quote, If you’re the kind of person who would like watching a taxidermist or perhaps would enjoy watching someone removing a splinter from the hand of a small child, then this episode is for you.
Jenna [01:25:25] Well, that’s perfect.
Angela [01:25:26] That is Scott’s Tots. Of course, we owe a huge thank you to B.J. Novak for being on the show today.
Jenna [01:25:32] And thank you to Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg, Paul Lieberstein and Randy Cordray, and also to James Kerry, who helped me go through some digital clutter.
Angela [01:25:42] Yes, and Joya Balfour for meeting me for coffee and bringing a trunk full of bobbleheads to me and always sharing with us about what NBC.com was doing.
Jenna [01:25:51] And thank you all for sending in your questions. We love you. We’ll see you next week.
Angela [01:25:55] Love you, guys.
Jenna [01:26:01] 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 [01:26:17] Our theme song is Rubber Tree by Creed Bratton. For Ad free versions of Office Ladies, go to Stitcher Premium dot com. For a free one month trial of Stitcher Premium, use code: Office.