The Office’s 26th episode of Season 5, “Casual Friday,” is remembered fondly as one of the show’s all-time greats, but the cherry (or, perhaps the undercooked onion) on top is undoubtedly its classic opener involving a very proud Kevin Malone, an out-of-order elevator, and a gigantic vat of chili. It’s such a pure, perfectly executed bit of physical comedy that it merits a rewatch whenever the opportunity presents itself. This is one such opportunity:
It’s probably unsurprising to learn that, for a single 36-second scene, Kevin’s chili debacle required a lot of behind-the-scenes prep work, equaled only by the amount of time it took to clean up the whole thing.
We took a loving look back at the scene earlier this year ourselves, but Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey also recently examined the recipe (we’re so sorry) to the sequence’s success alongside Kevin Malone himself, Brian Baumgartner, on the latest episode of the actresses’ podcast, Office Ladies.
“Obviously it was all about the moment of spill—having that look and feel as realistic as possible, and that it happened in generally the correct place for the cameras to be able to pick it up,” said Baumgartner, revealing that there was a hefty bit of logistical pressure for the day’s shoot. “[Prop master] Phil Shea came to me, kind of like a secret... and he says, ‘Alright, just so you know we only have three pieces of carpet. So we can’t do any more [takes] than that.’”
Despite all the rehearsals to nail the gag, Baumgartner says a decent amount of improv went into the sequence. “Once I was on the ground I got to play a little, and so I just started trying other things,” he remembers of his desperate scrounging for office supply tools to aid in clean-up.
Speaking of which: Yes, it did take a damn long time for Baumgartner to rid himself of chili-scented cologne. “I remember... it felt like 14 people in the shower with me, peeling off clothes and handing me towels to get it off of my eyes and hair and everything,” he says.
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