Justin Spitzer answers ‘Moroccan Christmas’ questions

Q: My question is all about Jim’s hilarious cold-open prank: Was that your idea, or someone else’s? Did it take the prop department a long time to construct? And how many takes did you do of Dwight sitting down into it – Rainn’s reaction was priceless! | Laura M.

Justin: That one was mine. Ever since I started working on the show, I’ve been asking my friends in the corporate world what pranks go on in their offices, and the single most mentioned one is wrapping people’s desks, whether in wrapping paper or newspaper or aluminum foil. I’ve been looking for an excuse to get some version of that prank in the show, and this was the perfect opportunity.

The construction guys went through a lot of different options to get the effect right. The first thing they tried was this complex mechanism of boards and spring-loaded locking mechanisms (I’m just saying words — I don’t know what any of that means). But it was pretty elaborate.

What we finally ended up using was a cheap, simple box of foam core — kind of a cardboard/Styrofoam thing. The prop guys spent I don’t know how many hours making up four desks, which would give us four takes to get it right. Then the first take ended up being perfect and we moved on.

Q: Meredith sure seems to do a lot of stunts – i.e. getting hit by a car, a ball, having her head put in a garbage bag … and now her hair catches on fire! How did you pull it off, and did Meredith herself perform her own stunts? | Agent Michael Scarn
Q: I can imagine that it was too dangerous for Kate Flannery to do her own stunt, but did she want to? | jkrasislove

Justin: Kate Flannery has done a number of her own stunts, but this is one that was way too dangerous (although knowing Kate, I wouldn’t be surprised if she would have gladly stepped in had we given her the option of doing it herself).

A stunt woman was wearing a version of Meredith’s costume that had been flame retarded, a flesh-colored mask over the side of her face that would be flamed, and I’m pretty sure some Vaseline over the other side of her face. We had three wigs made to look like Kate’s hair, with part of each ready to go up in flames and the rest of it similarly flame-proof.

And then, just like the desk in the cold open, the first take worked great and we didn’t need the rest. So we’ve apparently made three gift-wrapped foam-core desks and two Kate Flannery replica wigs too many. Let’s start the bidding …

Thanks again to Justin, and to Tallyhead Nation for providing the questions! All I wanted from Santa this year was one last Q&A — I’m a happy girl. :)

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


  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. I disliked much of this episode, but it was good to hear some of the thoughts that went into making it.

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

    Happy holidays everyone!

  16. 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!!! :)

  17. Thanks so much Justin!! I love hearing about the production design of the show. Great episode!

  18. 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!

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. #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)

  23. The Office writers and Tanster are very good to us! Much thanks, and Happy Holidays to all.

  24. 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!”.

  25. 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!

  26. 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.”

  27. 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!

  28. 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

  29. @ 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….

  30. 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!

  31. 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!

  32. 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!

Leave a Reply