Brent and Justin answer ‘Did I Stutter?’ questions

Q. Brent, how much of a strain was it on you both physically and mentally to co-write this episode with, as Greg Daniels calls him, the “Toby Flenderson” of the writer’s room? | William

A. In my 15 years as a celebrated TV super-writer, I have never co-written 3 act comedy with anybody. It’s shocking that Justin and I have co-written two episodes of TV now. In this case it was just a practical issue: we came back from the strike, and there weren’t enough episodes to go around, so the head writers gave us one to share.

I love working with Justin. He’s ten years younger than me and already a proven talent, but what’s crazy is the guy is on a steep learning curve as an artist, and will no doubt be running multiple TV shows by the time he’s my age. At that point I will go to him for pity work. I’ll be like, “Buddy, co-writer, come on. Remember that nice stuff I said about you on OfficeTally? Give me something here, co-writer buddy please.” — Brent

Q. What was the process like writing as a team? Are there parts of the episode or certain jokes that can be credited more to Brent or Justin or was it more of an overall collaborative process? | Littlekidlover

A. Brent’s worked on some amazing shows — his IMDB page reads like a syllabus for a comedy writing class. So working with him is great because you get the breadth of that experience. There are some jokes I wrote, some he wrote, and a lot more that were written by the rest of the staff. In the end, you forget much of who did what. — Justin

Q. Michael’s “no respect” talking head was brilliant. It was absolutely true to form for his character. I counted at least 5 comedian references. Was that written or did Steve come up with some of it? | Sarah

A. It was pretty much written. He may have improv-ed a little in there. Justin had my favorite joke in that whole rant: “What’s with airplane food? Just make the whole plane out of airplane food!” That is a brilliant joke. — Brent

Q. How do you get Steve Carell to cry like that? | Tina

A. The same way you get any actor to perform. Simple commands, followed by a milk bone if they get it right and a zap from the shock collar if they don’t.

Actually, at this point it doesn’t need saying anymore, but Steve is the most ridiculously talented actor most of us have ever or will ever work with, and he consistently amazes us with the options he gives us. I think the script didn’t call for him specifically to cry at that moment, and he probably did nine different takes with nine different levels of vulnerability. We picked #8. — Justin

Check out more Q&As in the Episode Q&A Archive. Essential reading for every Office super fan!

47 comments

  1. I love that the writers are so accessible to the fans. These post-episode question and answer sessions are great!

  2. Thank you guys for taking the time to answer these! (And to Tanster for putting it together!) I love being an Office fan! (totally cool cast & crew)

  3. Thanks to Brent and Justin for doing this for us. I look forward to these debriefings almost as much as the episodes themselves.

    Tanster, you do realize by doing these you’re setting the bar for attaining season five Q&As really high, don’t you?

  4. Thanks Brent and Justin for that awesome look into ‘Did I Stutter?’! Great job with the questions, Tanster!

  5. I love these Q and A’s. It’s like the DVD commentaries, but better in a way. The writers give detailed explanations and are able to finish their thoughts. It’s great insight into the process.

    I agree with comment # 6. I love being an Office fan. The cast, writers, and crew are so special that they make me feel special for loving their creative show.

    Thanks Brent and Justin and all the writers!

  6. Thank you so much Brent and Justin for answering my question about Toby’s character!

  7. I love the whole cast of The Office, naturally – but you writers are my idols. Seriously, if they held a convention with only the Office writers, I’d be the first in line to buy tickets. Thanks for taking the time to give us a glimpse at the making of such a great episode!

  8. The writers are very talented and I thank you all for making an amazing show.

    I love these Q and A’s.

  9. From lurker to first-time post-er: Thank you all so much. I truly love the show, and getting this much insight from the writers is such a treat.

  10. Thank you so much, Brent and Justin! And also to the always wonderful, Tanster for putting these Q&As together!

  11. These are quickly becoming my favourite part of the site – I’m even checking them before the spoilers (and that’s saying something since I’m a spoiler junkie). Thanks so much to Tanster and the writers. P.S. I’d be afraid of Stanley too.

  12. Gasp! My question got answered!! YAY! Thanks so much Brent and Justin!!!!

  13. thanks for answering these questions and for settling the toby debate. this is such a great feature, we are such lucky fans!

  14. Thanks for answering questions from OfficeTally, Brent and Justin! I hope we can keep these up — they’re so much better than tv/magazine interviews!

  15. Thanks for answering our questions! You guys are so gracious for takign the time out of your days to indulge us hardcore fans! It’s most appreciated!!!

  16. First of all, Congratulations Justin! I believe you referenced a “fiance” who lived in my area when I met you at the Convention – and now you have a “wife.” (Apologies if that is inaccurate . . .I may have had too many glasses of free wine at the cocktail party). ;)

    Thank you Brent and Justin (and Jennie, of course!) This was such a fun and informative read – a definite cure for “a case of the Mondays.” :)

  17. Thanks!

    Interesting to hear their take on Toby. I really did think he came off as a jerk in this episode.

  18. That’s so nice of the writers to participate.:)
    Interesting to see their take on Toby.

  19. I’ll add my thanks to everyone else’s! These really are so much fun to read, and the writers are really generous to agree to do this.

  20. I LOVE these little questionairres. Keep ’em coming. It’s so much fun to read the behind-the-scenes takes on these episodes.

    Thanks again, Tanster and “Office” writers.

  21. The writers are awesome :) I can hardly get through reading a Q&A without cracking up. Thanks tanster for putting these together, and thanks to all the writers who take the time to answer the questions.

  22. They HAVE to post the fluffy fingers scene on-line. I can’t believe that got cut out!

  23. The writers always answer everyone’s questions and it is so nice of them! They are all so talented. This Q&A is hilarious, this pair crack me up. Thanks so much Brent and Justin! :)

  24. Haha. Amazing. Tanster, please say Gene & Lee are coming back for Job Fair questions?

  25. Thank you Brent and Justin for answering these questions!! I love reading these.

  26. I love these Q&A’s! Thanks for setting them up.

    I’m still wondering if Angela’s “tall” adjective was a reference to Dwight…

    I remember hearing somewhere (maybe it was in the video commentary on the DVD) that in one of the scripts for Stanley’s previous rants, all it said was “Stanley rants” and then he got to just… rant. It’s interesting that they scripted this one. I loved it.

  27. Thank you, once again, tanster and The Office writers, for doing this for us fans. What class acts you are! I adore this show more and more every week!

  28. Woo!! Yay! My question got answered thank you so much Tanster, Justin and Brent!!!!

    I died laughing at the ‘shock of a collar’ part! lol

  29. On NBC.com, there’s a photo of Michael attempting the fluffy fingers on Stanley – too funny:

    Thanks for taking the time to answer questions! It’s very cool to hear the inside story.

  30. It’s so fun to get all of the insight from the writers (and their responses were hilarious!) Not only did we get to watch a wonderful and well written episode to start with, we then are treated to this awesome Q&A–icing on the cake! Thanks so much to Office Tally for facilitating this and to Justin and Brent for the generous time to share the cool behind the scenes information. No wonder The Office has such devoted fans–we’re treated so well!

  31. Glad they answered the Toby/Jim/Ryan question. Discussing it with my other OFFICE fans at my office, we all thought Toby was using Ryan as a way to break up Jim and Pam.

  32. So Toby wasn’t supposed to be a complete A-hole? Hmmmm. I’m not convinced the writers don’t have something up their sleeves.

  33. Sorry, but mark me in the Toby has an agenda column. I smelled something fishy as soon as he wouldn’t allow Pam and Jim sign the disclosure agreement.

  34. thanks for answering questions! i love reading these :]

    p.s. i’m looking for a car and i’m definitely interested in your honda civic, haha!

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