What It Was Like to Make the Best Episode of The Office

Inside 'The Dinner Party' 10 years after it first aired
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2018 11:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – It was a day that went down in comedic history: "On April 10th, 2008, The Office topped itself with its best half-hour ever—and perhaps the best comedy episode of the decade," writes Andy Greene for Rolling Stone. He's referring, of course, to "The Dinner Party," and on its 10th anniversary, he spoke with the stars of the episode, minus Steve Carell, and the creative minds behind it on how those 22 minutes came to be. His article is replete with tidbits bound to satisfy any Office addict: The single change made to the script was ditching a part about Michael Scott's girlfriend, Jan Levinson, intentionally hitting and killing the neighbor's dog; "That One Night," the song by Jan's assistant, Hunter, was recorded by New Pornographers guitarist Todd Fancey; Jan's awkward dancing with a seated Jim Halpert was a move she intentionally surprised him with during filming; and Carell improvised the "snip-snap, snip-snap, snip-snap" line after being told the vasectomy scene was too heavy.

As for how hard it was to get through the filming of the episode without breaking into fits of laughter—which happened over and over, the cast says—Beth Grant, who played Dwight's former babysitter Melvina, put it best: "I had to hold a beet on my fork and suck on it. I put everything into that." The cast also delves into how the Writers Guild of America strike affected things. It hit right before "The Dinner Party" was to be shot, and when the strike ended, the director who was slated for it wasn't available. So Paul Feig was able to swoop in—and we have him to thank for the scene involving the bench at the end of Jan's bed, which he explains was based in part on an experience he had while interning for a producer and getting a tour of a female staffer's house, which featured a cot by the bed. Feig explains why it was "the saddest thing" here.

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