It is your birthday.
Those four words, plus a pathetic display of neutral-colored decorations, set the scene for one of the biggest laughing fits on The Office set.
On the latest episode of the Office Ladies podcast, former co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey chatted all about the cast breaking in the Season 5 episode, “Lecture Circuit: Part 1.” Well, not the entire cast. It was mostly Mindy Kaling, Rainn Wilson, and John Krasinski who couldn’t get through their lines.
For those who need a refresher, the two-part episode finds Dwight and Jim taking over as heads of the Party Planning Committee and committing a grave offense. They forget Kelly’s birthday.
In an effort to make it up to her the two men confronted Kelly, which didn’t go well for the characters or the actors.
“Jim and Dwight are… going to try to apologize to Kelly. They want to make it up to her, and she does this great passive aggressive thing that we know she doesn’t mean where she says, ‘You know what? All I want is for this to never happen to another person,’ Fischer explained.
“They barely got through this scene,” Kinsey said. “I don’t know how they got a useful take, and then they continue breaking throughout the whole rest of the script.”
The hosts played some of the bloopers out loud and Fischer explained, “I can tell from listening to John laugh that he’s crying and he’s bent over.”
Fischer went on to share that one of the hardest times she ever laughed on set was during a scene with Kaling and Wison, because “when you put Mindy and Rainn together nobody is in control. The two of them are a mess, they’re the hardest people to do scenes with, they laugh the most…”
The three eventually got a useable apology take, but filming the conference room decoration scene proved to be even tougher for Wilson and Krasinski.
Picture it: Dwight has decorated the conference room for Kelly’s belated birthday party. He’s scattered partially-inflated brown, silver, and gray balloons and attached pitiful-looking streamers to the ceiling with masking tape. A banner on the wall simply reads, “IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY.” Jim enters the room and Angela Martin stands outside to keep a watchful eye on the decorating disaster.
According to Fischer and Kinsey, this was one of the funniest scenes in Office history to film.
“So I watched theses two grown men disintegrate into tears of laughter. I don’t know how, again, we got any useable footage. They laughed so hard Jenna, we had to pause,” Kinsey explained.
She then proceeded to read the following passages from Wilson’s book, The Bassoon King:
The longest inappropriate laughter was doing the episode ‘Lecture Circuit’ when Dwight and Jim are put in charge of the Party Planning Committee and Dwight hangs tiny brown and gray balloons and a banner that reads ‘It is your birthday.’
John and I literally could not stop laughing. We laughed until we cried. Production needed to be shut down for a 20 minute break while we gathered ourselves and then we returned to film the scene.
“Just the way John picks up the sad balloon from the conference room table, I don’t know how they spoke after that,” Fischer said.
Since Kinsey had observed the laugh fest firsthand, she shared which part of the scene really caused the actors to crumble.
“I want to tell you, the part I remember them laughing at is Dwight says ‘Are you trying to hurt my feelings?’ and he throws the balloon, but it didn’t have enough weight to travel in the air and so the balloon with the sad streamer attached just kind of [falls] in the air. He was trying to throw it at John and it just didn’t travel,” she said. “You can see Rainn starting to break, because I think he broke every time.”
Be sure to rewatch the episode and keep an eye out for Kaling, Krasinski, and Wilson breaking. And listen to the full podcast to learn more delightful behind-the-scenes stories from filming “Lecture Circuit: Part 1.”