Got a ‘Customer Survey’ question?

Yay! Another writer Q&A this week!

I am happy to announce that Lester Lewis, who wrote last night’s episode, ‘Customer Survey,’ has agreed to answer fan questions!

Please post your question in a comment by tomorrow, November 8th, 11pm PT. :)


  1. How was it working with Stephen Merchant? Did it make you nervous knowing that he was going to direct your episode?

  2. Awesomeness -top 5 worthy! This episode was amazing, except for one tiny thing. Why didn’t Kelly shout out that she was pregnant vs. saying that she got raped? Wouldn’t that have been a more consistent alternative?

  3. Hey, Lester! Thanks for doing a Q & A for us. I really enjoyed the episode. I love the Jim/Dwight dynamic.

    The conference room telephone scene between Michael, Dwight, and Jim was pure gold. Knowing how Steve, Rainn, and John like to break during threesome scenes, how many takes did that take and was there more to that scene? :)

    PS: Who came up with Bill Buttlicker?

  4. First of all, awesome episode!

    Because I’m a freak for the little details, I was wondering who did the voices of Michael’s mom and the client that Dwight was on the phone with. Were they actors, or special guests from behind-the-scenes (a la the previous cameos from Greg Daniels, Justin Spitzer, Gene and Lee, etc.)?

  5. Was it difficult/confusing to write/film/act/shoot the bluetooth scenes? I loved them but I got confused a couple times trying to keep up with Jim talking to both Pam and someone else.

  6. What is the name of the bluetooth that jim and pam was using?

    all i heard was something b400 japan


  7. I loved the storyline of literally having Pam in Jim’s head! How did this idea come about? Was it difficult to film scenes with all the dialogue/was it all scripted?

  8. Great episode!

    Who thought of the scene in the parking lot where Jim gets into Dwight’s car to go 20 feet? So funny!

    Who thought of Kelly saying she was raped? Pretty edgy.

    Also, good twist – since Ryan is keeping a list of people he does not trust, I figured it was Ryan changing the client reviews.

  9. When Dwight sneaks up on Kelly in her nook there is a camera already placed there to film the action. However, there were already two cameras filming his conversation with Jim before he leapt from his seat to confront her. Did he tell one of the crew to get into position, or was a third cameraman chilling with Kelly at a most convenient time?

    Yes, this is the stuff I think about.

  10. One more question. When Angela was describing the farm where she wanted to get married, was she thinking about Schrute Farms?

  11. Could you explain where we are in the timeline? If Pam’s program was only three months long, and we know she’s still in that same program based on her conversation with Alex in your episode, this episode obviously can’t be based in November. But, last week, Pam was at corporate for Halloween, which also should be beyond Pam’s three month stay in NYC. Are the writers deliberately making the timeline inscrutable?

    Congrats on this episode. It was really great.

  12. I absolutely loved this episode. It moved like an action drama a la’ 24 except scaled down to fit in a business park. So which came first the script or the director?

  13. Loved the episode!

    Did Michael really tell people that he was engaged, or did he just answer people’s questions about the trip in a vague, misleading way because he didn’t want to admit that he and Holly had broken up?

  14. I’m curious why the writers kept Pam silent during her art school friend’s rant about staying in NY. Since we’re seeing a more bold & confident Pam, why didn’t she speak up?

  15. Great episode! Who came up with the “that’s what she said” line for this episode, it was one of the funniest ones so far.

    Also how hard was it to get John and Rainn to keep straight faces during their scenes together, especially since John kept making asides to Pam? Their dynamic was amazing in this episode.

  16. First off, Hillarious episode, I loved it.

    What was the inspiration behind having Kelly make the mugs? They were my favorite part!

  17. How big of a role did Stephen Merchant have on this episode, other than being in the director’s chair?

  18. What, exactly, is Pam’s job at the NY office?


    Also – AMAZING episode!! Probably one of my favorites!

  19. Who came up with the idea to have Pam and Jim stay on the phone all day? What kind of phone plan do they have if they are using 500 minutes a day? Have the writers had difficulty coming up with scenes for Jim without Pam?

  20. I think Dwight air kicking Phyllis is probably one of the funniest moments I’ve seen on The Office. Was that written in for him to do that or did he improvise that?

  21. During the scene when Alex visits Pam at Corporate, Jim says “Put him in my ear”, don’t you think that would of been a great time to throw in a TWSS?

  22. This episode really felt like a flash back to the “classic” office humour of the earlier seasons. How do the writers balance the growth and progress of the characters/plot as a whole with keeping the same humour and atmosphere that made the show what it is today?

  23. Stephen Merchant did an incredible job directing ‘Customer Survey’! How weird was it to have one of the creators of The Office UK on set?

  24. Lester, thanks for a great episode! The scene with Kelly in Michael’s office—was their laughter scripted? It just seemed so natural, almost like they broke character but you (or Stephen Merchant, I guess?) decided to keep rolling.

  25. Rich Sommer’s performance really blew me away. How did the writer’s decide to have his character bring such profound clarity to the Pam/Jim/NYC situation?

  26. I’m confused about the length of time Pam has supposedly been in New York. The program was supposed to be three months long, but it’s obviously been more. She left in July and is still in New York for Halloween. In ‘Customer Survey,’ Alex refers to Pam having only been there for three months. Is this an oversight or is Pam now attending Pratt as an actual student and not just a member of their design program?

  27. Lewis,

    I’d like to know how you balance continuing/developing storylines versus off-the-cuff jokes that need no further explanation in Customer Survey? Not every person has seen each episode at least 5 times..:).

  28. when jim went over to reception and talked to ryan i thought for sure it would be revealed that he was behind the fake reports. obviously kelly was getting revenge but did she conspire with ryan at all? it seems like such a sneaky ryan move. or does this just show that kelly and ryan are perfect for each other after all?

  29. HEY!! Fantastic Episode!!
    I was wondering if you intended for there to be a double meaning to Jim’s ‘don’t’ at the end of the episode. Did you mean for him to be saying ‘don’t’ to Pam’s staying in New York, or Dwight’s being Dwight?
    Thanks for a great episode!!

  30. Loved the episode! Definitely one of my faves for this season. After Alex’s speech, Jim doesn’t say anything (except to Dwight). Were there any other scenes that were cut, or is that how y’all meant to end the episode?

    Thanks for all the hard work y’all do! :)

  31. This episode was filled with some very funny and edgy one-liners, my favorite being “Kapoor’s list.” Do you try to think of edgy things like that to put in the script or do those ideas come more naturally and you then decide it would be funny in the show?

  32. Hi Lester Lewis!
    I have noticed that Pam’s character has really been evolving during these past two seasons, and I was curious about Jim. It almost seems as if Pam is evolving quicker than him and he is still left in Scranton waiting for her to come back. What is going on with Jim? Will there be more developments of his character?

  33. In the Jim/Dwight/Michael conference scene, were any of the “Buttlicker” bits improvised and did it take several tries before nailing such a funny scene? I laughed so hard the entire time and was absolutely amazed that none of the actors ever broke in the slightest bit.

  34. When Jim was congratulating Dwight on being right, did he actually know that Kelly had messed with the surveys, or was he just messing with Dwight?

  35. Were Jenna and John really on a blue tooth headset during filming? If not, how exactly did you do the reaction shots?

    Also, what is the timeline for Pam’s being in New York? Surely, she’s been there way longer than three months.

  36. Really funny episode. I know you can’t get into detail, but how far ahead have the writers planned for Angela, Andy and Dwight’s love triangle? I just wonder if the decision to have Dwight plan the wedding (such a great storyline!) included pitches about where that’s all headed?


  37. When we see something like the mugs that are on the show on Thursday and for sale on Friday at, is that something that was in the episode and NBC decided to sell or something that NBC wanted to sell and had put in the episode?

  38. Hi Lester! This episode was sooo funny! My question is why would Jim buy a house without checking with Pam first? Was this to show he expects her to live in Scranton her whole life or were you thinking it was something they’d both want?

  39. Congrats on a hilarious episode! In Customer Survery, it seemed like we were seeing Michael actually acting like a manager…concerned over survey results, dealing with Kelly’s lying…do the writers intentionally make sure they put these moments in episodes to counter Michael’s usual absurd behavior? Thanks!

  40. Thank you for a laugh-out-loud show! How many takes did the conference room scene have between Rainn, John, and Steve? It would seem that it would be so hard not to break with all of those hilarious lines. Are they just that good or will there be a great blooper reel?

  41. Great episode. How would you describe Stephen Merchant’s directing style? To me, it seems very unshowy – no tricks, no calling attention to the camera. I wonder if that approach allows the focus to be more on the writing and performances, instead of the camera work. Your thoughts?

  42. Brilliant episode!

    I loved the Schrute wedding photos. Who do we thank for the great work? Any of the writing staff or crew pose in the photos?

  43. Two questions… fantastic episode btw!

    Jim and Dwight did not really react when Kelly and Michael were laughing after she was caught lying. Why didn’t Dwight bust in and make sure Kelly got a demerit or something? (LOL). Is Jim going to get his bonus so he can buy a house?

    I can understand why the writers left the storyline hanging after the speech to Pam about staying in New York. I know you can’t reveal a lot, but how soon will Jim and Pam address this issue?

    Can’t wait for next week’s episode.

  44. Why did you feel that Kelly would respond with “I was raped” to the accusations of her sabotaging the customer surveys? It seemed totally out of character. Also, don’t you think that would alienate and sicken the women who watch your show that have been raped?

  45. I have a two-part question for you Lester. One, how’d you get to be so awesome? And two, were there any other options thrown around besides Buttlicker? Boobieface, perhaps? Assbucket? Fannypincher?

  46. Who came up with the idea for Kelly’s coffee mug party favors, or for that matter, the decision to have her throw an America’s Got Talent finale party?

  47. I noticed that one of the grooms in the Schrute Farm wedding pictures was the funeral agent from Job Fair. Did you put him in there to show that funerals and Schrute Farm weddings are very similar?

  48. Great episode, just something to unwind to, and a great mid-season episode when you don’t want things to get too heavy with story arcs.

    So basically I was wondering where the episode ideas began in your head, how did you map out the storylines during your concept stage?

  49. did jim and pam keep their bluetooths on when they went to the bathroom?

    why did kelly invite ryan to her party?

    is alex in love with pam?

    how did mindy feel about doing so much acting in this episode. she did a great job!

  50. Who came up with the idea to put Pam and Jim on those bluetooth phones? It was an innovative way to include Pam in the Dunder Mifflin drama without actually having her in Scranton.
    Why was there so little Steve Carrell? Was it because last week’s ep was so Michael/Holly-centric?
    The rape line that Kelly says is pretty daring, and pretty funny. That wasn’t really a question, but that was a great example of humor that’s edgy but not going over the edge.
    So now are the Michael/Kelly shippers going to show their faces? Are there going to be more mysteries to solve at Dunder Mifflin? And where’s Jan and her baby? Is Michael going to be a part of their lives at all?

  51. I’ve noticed that different characters on the show seem to have different relationships with the documentary crew. The characters who are very comfortable with the camera crew tend to reveal much more, like when Jim showed the cameras Pam’s engagement ring before he proposed.

    My question is, does the camera crew look down on Andy more than the other characters? Dwight and Angela look like they’re plotting something behind Andy’s back, and the camera crew is in on it. Do they think the situation is funny? Do they prefer Dwight to Andy? Did they take sides?

  52. The bluetooth device Jim and Pam were using, is it real?
    And if so where can I find one :)

  53. This was such a wonderful episode! Thanks so much!

    I can’t stop laughing at Dwight’s line, “You juked the stats, cupcake!” as well as, “Jim is smudge and arrogant,” Bill Buttlicker, etc. Throughout the normal course of the day, (you know, at the gym, at a coffee stand, walking the dog, as you’re falling asleep, etc.) do these kinds of lines just pop into your head? Or do they mostly come out when you’re really getting into the character and writing his/her lines?

  54. I was wondering why Angela would have gone to Kelly’s American Idol party?

    I thought that Angela always hated Kelly. Like when she thought she was going to be in charge of the women in the office, Kelly would be the first person she would get rid of. In the words of Angela herself, “Goodbye Kelly Kapoor.”

  55. Hi

    here are my questions:

    What was the thought process behind Michael explaining his engagement/breakup with Holly? I also noticed that it seemed as if people in the office are more excited about Michael getting engaged than when Angela/Andy and Jim/Pam got engaged, is there a reason why?

  56. Does Alex want Pam to stay in NY for the reasons he gave her? Or does he have ulterior motives, such as romantic feelings for her?

  57. First, kudos for such a “classic” episode of The Office. I agree with some previous readers that this took us back to earlier seasons and it was refreshing.
    My question is this:
    When Dwight and Jim went running back to Kelly’s nook, was Kelly really putting on makeup or was she looking in the mirror to see over her shoulder to see if anyone was coming? Am I correct in sensing that Kelly’s “smart” side came through in this episode?

  58. What Pam’s new friend said to her about chasing her dreams and staying in NYC had the same vibe as what Jim said to Pam in the “Boys and Girls” episode of season 2. Was this on purpose?

  59. I thought the line “I was raped!” was hilarious! Funniest Kelly line ever. Did you come up with that?

  60. Hey Lester!

    This was such a great episode, I enjoyed it so much.

    I loved the Bluetooth idea and I was just wondering, did Jenna and John actually speak to each other the whole time or did they just have cues in the script as to when to say their lines to each other?

  61. Who is the person Dwight is selling paper to? The man that Dwight tells to shut up and he says sadly “I need paper…” It sounded kind of like Paul Lieberstein.

  62. Loved the episode!!! Michael displayed admirable restraint and normalcy this episode. I really like professional Michael. Is this Holly’s influence or will he return to his obnoxious antics next week?

  63. I’ve noticed that in this season, the show is more about drama and plot development than it used to be. More time within each episode is spent on conflicts, and less one liners. Why the dynamic change?

    Thanks so much for your time!

  64. The official pictures from this episode show Dwight and Phyllis talking about a newspaper. What happened in that scene?

  65. I was very confused about whether Jim is buying his parents a house or if he is buying his parent’s house for him and Pam?

  66. I loved Pam’s enthusiastic “That’s what she said” response to “Get out of my nook.” Was this a TWSS that the writers have been trying to work in for awhile, or did you come up with that one specifically for this episode? Thanks Lester!

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