There are just little touches, like the beer sign in the garage, and Michael having that hand-shaped chair. We talked about this idea that Michael buys a lot of things that he sees late at night on TV, so he has a Bowflex and he has a Soloflex. He has an Ab Roller. He never uses any of them, but his garage is filled with that stuff. That was written in the script. The whole candle business was just so funny to us. He is such a brilliant director, and one of the things he knows how to do is get the best out of everybody.
Michael was jealous of his youth and good looks from the second he laid eyes on him. Everyone but Michael, that is. The lyrics for the song were written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, but for the music and voice they turned to New Pornographers guitarist Todd Fancey. He wrote it clearly about Jan and how she made him a man, and it was a terrible song. He likes the song. He has no clue. Basically, we wanted it to sound good. We had some relationships with some musicians, and some other people on the show did, and we sent out the lyrics to a bunch of different people.
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People we had actually heard of and bands we had heard of took the time to record it, kind of on spec, I think? There were some metal versions. I was living in Vancouver. I just went downstairs to my other apartment — I had two at the time — and boom. It came really quick. I wrote it on acoustic guitar.
I went into a studio in suburban Vancouver and recorded it. We ended up going with that one. I had almost completely forgotten about the song. I got a call on my cell from a production assistant on the show. And we need it to be Tuesday. How am I going to do this? This new one is too polished. For the first time anywhere, you can hear it right here. As soon as you walk into that set, you knew why it was funny and how it was going to keep getting funnier.
I mean, we were excited every time we filmed in the parking lot. So the fact that we actually went on location was superduper-exciting. It was like the kids got to go to Disneyland. You just wind up socializing a bit more, and those group scenes are the same way. They were fun bonding experiences, in a way. It was perfect for the episode, it really was. I kind of used that a lot and used the heat. It was just scalding hot, I remember. I mean, the place was air-conditioned, but it was hot outside. It was just scorching. So that just adds an extra layer of insulation. You can have air-conditioning hoses running in, but, you know, we do long takes.
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So it was a little bit of an ordeal in that way. I remember the camera operators getting jammed in the tight halls.
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It was a very small living room, and we were all sort of wedged in on the sofa together and more people kept arriving. It was definitely a great foundation for this awkward comedy setting. You know? This very awkward dinner party in this very small space. We just shoved a camera in there that we could barely fit in the room. I was, like, up on the sink and the cameraman was sitting back on this tiny countertop.
Also, our director of photography and cameraman had come from Survivor. The party begins with Jim and Pam arriving at the condo and Michael and Jan giving them a tour. They are eventually joined by Andy and Angela, plus party-crasher Dwight, who brings along his old babysitter, Melvina, in an attempt to make ex-lover Angela jealous. Jan is cooking ossobuco, which takes hours to prepare. Tension builds as Michael and Jan are unable to conceal their hatred for each other. Jan accuses Pam of having had a past relationship with Michael, and eventually gets into such a nasty fight with Michael that the police are called in.
Dark stuff — but also so funny that the actors often had trouble getting through their scenes.
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It was insane. We laughed so hard, like, tears were streaming down our faces. Every time they turned on the camera, either [Fischer] or me would just be absolutely in fits of laughter. It probably took the longest of any of the other scenes, because we had to literally take a break and walk away to stop laughing. I think we were hot and exhausted. Steve went on this wild riff that just killed me.
I was trying so hard not to break. I was physically dying inside from holding back laughter. I had to hold a beet on my fork and suck on it.
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I put everything into that. I became friends with one of the women in the office and I would go kind of hang out with her occasionally. One day she took me to her house. You should learn from this. That has to last as long as it can before everyone broke. It was so much fun to just be a little bit wrong. The writers were always so supportive of those tiny decisions being up to you. I totally remember that moment. As soon as she started dancing, it was that thing, you could feel the energy in the room, and we were already at maximum, and it just felt ridiculous.
It was amazing. Not another one.
Oscar Nunez was legendary because he was unbreakable. He never, ever broke.
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On the other end of the spectrum, you had me and Krasinski and Angela, and we were just like giggle maniacs. If something tickled with us, it was over. And we would ruin take after take after take and burn a lot of film. The moment that caused the wildest fits of hysteria was when Michael proudly shows off the tiny plasma-screen television to his guests.
That was my trick. I was not professional enough in those scenes because I cracked every time one of those jokes happened. The TV only moved, like, a half an inch. There was something in the room there that was like an untamed animal, and we were just getting demolished by laughter. There are just so many beautiful elements like that. I just thought of it in that moment. When we cut, we all burst in laughter. They were so amazing at that dysfunctional couple peeling back the layers. While polls are a great tool to engage your audience, you can also use them strategically for audience research to create better content that resonates with your followers.
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