Jenna Fischer TV Guide blog: The Dundies

From Jenna Fischer’s TV Guide blog, dated April 20, 2006:

Tonight’s episode of The Office [9:30 pm/ET on NBC] is a rerun of one of my favorites of the season — “The Dundies.” I get a lot of letters about the Dundies. It’s a big episode for Pam.

In this episode, Michael hosts the annual Dunder-Mifflin Awards, affectionately referred to as “the Dundies.” Michael makes up awards for each person in the office and then stages a huge presentation at a local Chili’s. He serves as the master of ceremonies, which is really an opportunity for him to tell bad jokes and sing songs. Dwight is his DJ and sound-effects specialist. After Pam gets in a huge fight with Roy just before the awards begin, she joins Jim inside and gets drunk.

I got to do a lot of physical comedy in this episode. I fall down. I give a drunken speech. I hoot and holler. It was a great script for me as an actor.

A lot of people have asked me if I was really drunk while shooting. The answer is no, I was not really drunk. I did get drunk one night for research though.

In real life I rarely drink. In fact, the last time I had gotten drunk was back in college, and even then I wasn’t a big drinker. I just never really thought it was much fun. When I got the script for this episode, I was very nervous. I couldn’t remember what it was like to be drunk and I didn’t want to do a caricature of a drunk person. B.J. Novak [Ryan, and a writer on the show] suggested I go out and get drunk one night for research. I laughed him off at first, but then decided it was a pretty good idea. I took B.J. with me and made sure I didn’t have to drive.

It only took four drinks. After each drink, B.J. would check in with me, asking, “How do you feel now? What’s different?” He made me describe, in detail, the various levels of drunkenness. It was interesting because after the first two drinks I said, “I feel really buzzed and dizzy.” I was laughing a lot. By drink No. 4, I said, “I don’t really feel drunk at all. I feel normal now.” B.J. said, “Really? Because you are talking really loud and close and you just almost fell over.” I stopped at drink four. I thought it was really interesting and scary how, after so many drinks, I doubted that I was drunk. No wonder people do so many stupid things when they drink!

I totally drew on my experience of that night when we shot this episode. I realized that when you are drunk, you laugh at stupid things, talk closer to people, get touchy and basically act like a more obnoxious and unbalanced version of yourself. You lose control a little. So, that’s what I did with Pam.

I was originally supposed to vomit in this episode. Thankfully, I didn’t “research” that part. Jim and I are doing an interview for the camera and in the middle I was supposed to turn and puke all over the bar. I guess the corporate lawyers at Chili’s didn’t like this idea so they changed it to having me fall off a stool instead. [B.J. Ryan’s blog details Chili’s objection to the scene.] My executive producer, Greg Daniels, directed this episode and he had a very specific way he wanted Pam to fall off the stool. So he demonstrated it. It was hilarious! John Krasinski and I pretended we didn’t understand how he wanted it to be done so that Greg would keep falling off the stool over and over again. We were laughing really hard.

This episode was the first one we ever shot outside of our office set. I remember it was the week after Steve Carell’s movie, The 40 Year Old Virgin, hit theaters. Access Hollywood came to interview him, and it was really cool.

Because of our location, we had to have very tiny trailers about the size of a small bathroom. (Our usual trailers are the size of your average bedroom.) Also, for some reason they were infested with ants. Steve was so humble and accommodating. I remember thinking, “Wow, now that’s class. Here he is, the No. 1 movie star in America, getting interviewed by Access Hollywood, and he changed his clothes in a trailer the size of a closet that was infested with ants and he didn’t complain once.” Whenever I get the urge to complain about something trivial on a set, I think of that.

The other really cool thing about this episode is that the cast members got to keep their Dundies! I have mine on the shelf in my living room. It’s one of my favorite keepsakes from the show.

I hope you enjoy the episode.

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