Justin Spitzer answers ‘Moroccan Christmas’ questions

Q: What was Creed wearing over his shirt and tie? It looked like a disposable lab coat or something. | Kelly

Justin: Something Moroccan. A kaftan or djellaba or something.

Q: The set designers really went all out with the theme, how did you come up with the “Nights in Morocco” as well as long was the process of getting all the set decorations ready? | sorano916
Q: I loved the Moroccan theme! Phyllis in power is priceless. What other themes were possible options for their party when you were writing the episode? | Amanda

Justin: In ‘Goodbye, Toby,’ we had Phyllis plan an amazing party, but now we wanted to show that power has gone to her head. Thus the Moroccan theme (we talked about other options as well, but I won’t say what they were in case we ever decide to use them in the future).

Part of the reason we chose this one is that it seemed like the idea that would most aggravate Angela. We’ve spent four years watching Angela beat down Phyllis, and we wanted to do as much as possible in this episode to have you start actually feeling bad for Angela, so that you wanted her to finally stand up to Phyllis in the end.

Q: Who did Toby’s daughter’s voice on the phone? | Zac

Justin: Master impressionist and Man of a Thousand Voices Rich Little.

Q: How much time did it take Ed Helms to learn the sitar? And what song was he (trying) to play when Jim asked him to stop? | Laura
Q: Did a professional sitar player have to teach Ed Helms how to play? Or was his banjo experience easily transferred to this other (superior?) instrument? | Tiffany

Justin: Here’s yet another example of Ed Helms’ amazing talent. The sitar is a notoriously difficult instrument, so even though his playing of it didn’t have to be perfect, we wanted to make sure to give Ed enough time to learn the song. We gave him about a week (and no one to help him). But the song we gave him to learn was ‘Silent Night.’

Then, late the night before we shot that scene, we changed it to ‘Deck the Halls,’ and we couldn’t tell him about it until the next morning. When he was told about the change, he just shrugged, said no problem, spent about a minute-and-a-half figuring it out, and was ready to go.

I spent four years practicing oboe when I was a kid, and I still don’t think I could play a recognizable song.

That stuff he was playing in the annex was just random strumming.

Q: Was Ed singing “Ra da du da doo” instead of fa la la scripted, or was that improvised? Either way, totally hilarious! | floodedapartment

Justin: Improvised. I don’t think I could write that into a script even if I wanted to. How would you spell it? My keyboard doesn’t have a schwa key.

Q: Whose idea was the Princess Unicorn dolls? How did you go about making them? | Diapers Schrute

Justin: There was originally a whole different Dwight plot in the script (a holdover from last year’s Christmas episode), which we decided didn’t fit as well this year, so we had to scramble to find something else for him.

It was a group effort: Halsted Sullivan pitched the idea of having Dwight scalp the hot Christmas toy, Aaron Shure came up with Princess Unicorn (2nd option: Hank Grenade, a doll whose arms blow off when you throw him), Gene Stupnitsky thought of making Toby buy the black doll, and I took all the credit for the idea.

Then there was a lot of discussion about how to design them. Should she be just a princess with a horn or should she be more of a horned centaur, with the lower half of a horse? It got pretty contentious.

43 comments

  1. Thanks Tanster for posting!!! I for one LOVED this episode… so thanks to Justin and everyone for keeping us laughing thru the next weeks of “dreaded reruns”. Love DVR!!!

  2. Oh my goodness – Hank Grenade! That’s hilarious! And could Ed Helms possibly be more talented??

    Thank you so much, Justin and tanster, for the wonderful Q&A – as always!

  3. Tanster, your web site is an addiction! I love it! Anyway, thank you so much to you and Justin for this Q & A! I love getting all the inside information. Oh my gosh, if Jim and Pam would have eloped, I think I could have died a happy girl! Thanks again!

  4. Thank you so much Justin for answering my question! I can now sleep better at night. lol And thank Tanster for setting these up! You make all of us Tallyheads very, very happy!

  5. What a great Q&A! I was laughing while reading this. Greatness, Justin…

    Tanster: So glad that Santa didn’t disappoint you! This made me a happy girl, as well. Thank you!

  6. Is it just me or are these Q&A’s freakin awesome!? Great job Tanster, you are the woman! All I want for Christmas is one of those sweet Princess Unicorn tees on the Princess Unicorn website. Can you imagine the amazing looks you would get in public? Hours of fun.

  7. Thanks Justin and Tanster! Great questions and informative and hilarious answers! Merry Moroccan Christmas everyone!

  8. Great Q&A! Thanks Tanster, Justin, and all the writers who generously give their time to answer these for us. It’s nice to feel like the creators of the show love us as much as we love our show.

    I really enjoyed the episode, but truly I would definitely rather have watched Jim and Pam elope than Meredith get dragged to rehab. I mean, the intervention was funny, but my heart belongs to Jam. I wonder if they’ll elope in a future episode. I have always thought that is how they will end up getting married.

  9. Jim and Pam elope? I’m glad it didn’t happen especially because we all know she would want her parents there.

  10. I just love these Q & A’s. Thank you Tanster for setting them up and to Justin for answering the questions!

    I laughed when I read “It was Greg’s idea to have her hair catch fire, we agreed, then went home early” LOL! I wonder if that will become a scene in a future episode-everyone agrees with one of Michael’s ideas because they want to leave early.

  11. I. LOVE. These. Q & A’s.

    Justin, thanks for another insightful, warm, funny perspective on the best show on TV. I really appreciate reading things like this. It’s a whole new perspective, so much better than some Behind The Scenes DVD feature (which The Office DVD’s thankfully have NEVER had). Answering questions straight from the fans is the perfect example of why this show has a better relationship with its fans than any other show before or after. Thanks again, Justin!

  12. I think the thing about Pam loving porn was tongue-in-cheek. The thing in “Fun Run” was just a pop-up ad gone awry, and the reaction shot in “Moroccan Christmas” was probably just to show her confusion when Michael said something along the lines of “I think we can all agree that the image is disgusting…” by which I think he meant the image of Meredith looking at porn. Which implies some… odd assumptions on Michael’s part.

    Yeah, I know, it’s sad. We’re actually debating interpretations of the Q&A now.

  13. Thank you Justin and Tanster! I loved this episode and I’m still laughing about it (Angela in a hair net! The unicorn doll! Meredith running around the parking lot repeating “wait a minute – wait a minute!”). It’s wonderful to read about the behind the scenes work. Great job writers, actors and crew on a hilarious Christmas episode that was dark, so funny and memorable!

  14. Hilarious! And cool, my question got answered! Hank Grenade… that would have been crazy.

    Happy holidays everyone!

  15. Jim and PAm elope…WOW!!!! That would be AMAZING…I just hope we get to see the wedding…whereever it is!! AND…I REALLY don’t want Pam/Jim to have a long engagement like she did w/ Roy…so hopefully we’ll be hearing wedding bells SOON!!! :)

  16. Sweetness! Glad to know that the sitar was all Ed!

    Thanks for the awesome answers, Justin! Glad to see that you’re doing well on THE OFFICE and wish you a wonderful Christmas!

  17. i had to look up what “elope” meant.

    awwwww it would have been so awesome!!!
    but then where would Michael be to ruin the wedding.

    also good for Pam for liking Porn, i can only imagine what her and Jim do in their new house. :D :D :D hehe

  18. Yay! My question was answered!!! Thanks for answering, Justin!
    And thanks to Tanster for picking my question! I agree – these Q&As are the essence of my super fan status.

  19. It doesn’t matter how much I love an episode–it ALWAYS goes up a notch or two after reading the writer Q&As.

    Big sloppy wet kisses to Justin for the answers.

    And air-fives to tanster for bringing this site into existence.

  20. #25 Caity- Thank you! I was just about to say the same thing. He was KIDDING about the porn and the elopement thing you guys! I can’t believe how many people took it and ran. Haha!

    Thank you, Justin and tanster! These are just an awesome treat every time. :o)

  21. Great fun! I enjoy the thought process behind the magic we see each week.

    I have to chuckle at how some of you folks take all the answers to heart. It shows how excited you are about the show, it’s cute. I know he was kidding about JAM eloping but I hope, when they do marry, it’s a real wedding. We need a pay-off.

    I agree with 28|SSE – Cheers to Tanster, in the immortal words of Toby Flenderson, “To Amsterdam!”.

  22. I appreciated Justin’s willingness to answer the “dark tone” questions. I’m glad he realized people would either love or hate this episode. Sadly, I didn’t love it. But, I enjoyed Justin’s answers and thank him for his time!

  23. A really funny, simple prank that would be hilarious for Jim to do to Dwight is changing the Microsoft Word auto-correct setting. For instance, if Jim set the auto-correct for “Dwight K Schrute” to something like “The Dark Knight.” Every email he sends would be signed by the dark night or something like that. It’s funny to do with common words too like “the.”

  24. Wow, I thought it’d be impossible for Ed Helms to get any more awesome. I shall call him the Big Talent.

    And thanks Tanster for another awesome Q&A; your hard work is very greatly appreciated! Thanks to Justin Spitzer & the rest of TO for your awesomeness as well!

  25. I think knowing that it was a rubber pen makes that scene even funnier. And that’s funny “ha-ha”. Thanks so much Justin for answering mine and everyone else’s questions!

    And, Tanster, for selecting my question, I think I quite simply love you. :D

  26. @ 36:

    Jim already did that. In Conflict Resolution it is revealed that Jim set up a macro on Dwight’s computer so that whenever he typed ‘Dwight’ the word ‘diapers’ came up instead.

    What do you guys think of the “Pam loves porn” comment?
    Was he kidding, or….

  27. I actually burst out laughing at Justin’s answer to the Pam and porn question. Thank you, Justin and tanster- these are always SO entertaining!

  28. it must make the writers so happy to know people pay such CLOSE attention to the episodes. the office has the best/most obsessed fans! represent, dunderheads!

  29. Do you know the song which was played while the credits rolled on the Moroccan Christmas – Dec 12, 2008? It was a slow quiet song, maybe a female singing some.

    Thank you!

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