Lester Lewis answers ‘Customer Survey’ questions

Here are Lester Lewis’ answers to your questions about Customer Survey!

Lester went above and beyond the call of duty in working on this Q&A because he and his wife just gave birth to a baby boy! Congratulations to Lester and family. :)

Q: Which came first the script or the director? | Leonora

Lester: The story was in place before we knew Stephen Merchant was on board, but he sat in on the final re-writes and lent his comic brilliance to the page as well as the screen.

Q: How was it working with Stephen Merchant? Did it make you nervous knowing that he was going to direct your episode? | Receptionitis

Lester: Any nervousness I had disappeared when I met him. Stephen is the coolest guy. As friendly as he is hilarious. The writers and actors all felt an instant connection with him. We wish he were on staff!

Q: 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? | joyray

Lester: He pretty much invented the docu-style that we use so it is second nature to him. But there were times that he was pretty specific about shots. For instance, the scene where Dwight pulls up in his Trans Am, grabs Jim, and screeches into his parking space to talk was pure Stephen. In the script, it was just going to be a conversation in the parking lot.

Q: Was Jim’s “don’t” intended for Dwight, Pam, or both? | Dana

Lester: Dwight, but interesting take. Hadn’t thought about it that way.

Q: 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? | sorano916

Lester: I wouldn’t say those guys like to break, although it is inevitable when everyone is that funny. I think it took about an hour to shoot the scene and I recall having three or four takes of everything to pick from, but they blasted through it pretty well. They did improvise a hilarious alternate ending though. Hmm, I wonder if I can tell you what it is? It might end up on the DVD extras. What the heck, it’s just us, right? There was one version where Jim didn’t say to fire Dwight. Michael hangs up the phone and shouts, “We landed the Buttlicker account!” He and Dwight high-five exuberantly.

PS: Who came up with Bill Buttlicker?

Lester: All I can say is it wasn’t me. A group of writers was sent off to take a crack at that scene and it came back almost exactly as you saw it. I wish it had been me, though!!!!

Q: Were there any other options thrown around besides Buttlicker? Boobieface, perhaps? Assbucket? Fannypincher? | Molly

Lester: Keep going, I’m enjoying this.


  1. Great Q&A and congrats on the baby, but Lester, why won’t you answer the time line question? It’s annoying the bejesus out of me!

  2. That overlooked detail of Pam now being in NY for more than 3 months is seriously bothering me. I’m actually kind of surprised. The writers/Greg are usually very aware of continuity–more so than other shows.

  3. As always, a million thanks to tanster and our fabulous writers for access to this show like no other…literally. And cheers Mr. Lewis for, um, ignoring my question. :D

  4. Aww, congratulations Lester!

    Great Q&A. I really enjoyed the questions posed to him as well as his responses.

    Thanks again (to you and the rest of the writers) for taking the time to do this for the fans.

  5. Thanks, Lester and Tanster! This was a particularly awesome episode, and I’m thrilled with the Q&A! Thank you to fans of The Office for these great questions!

  6. Great Q&A, I love that JK thought of the TWSS, I just wish the writers would quit mentioning 3 month when it’s so obviously not a 3 month program anymore.

  7. Thanks, as always, Tanster for making these Q&As happen! Just another reason why this is such an awesome show to love and obsess over.

    And yippee, he answered my question! I’ve decided that makes me two degrees away in my own personal Six Degrees of John Krasinski game :-) So close, so close…

    [from tanster: LOL!]

  8. Good stuff! I love that John Krasinski came up with the TWSS line. Jenna delivered it hilariously! Stephen Merchant is the man! I hope he’s back to direct more episodes. The photo album was a great touch, too.

    Thank you, Tanster and Lester!

  9. Thank you for posting these Q & A’s! They are such fun! I just have one tiny idea…
    Is it possible to post a photo of the corresponding writer with the article? Or is there somewhere I can find photos of the writers? I would love to have a face to go with the name. :D

    [from tanster: see this page]

  10. Such a great Q&A! Thanks, Lester (and Congrats!) for answering my question and thanks to Tanster for always treating us!! :)

  11. Jim and Pam being able to stay on the phone with each other all day is totally possible… it’s called free mobile to mobile.

  12. Great interview! Congrats to Lester on the new baby and thanks for making the Q&A happen. I was wondering about Steve and Mindy cracking up in the office, too, because it felt SO natural, like an outtake that was salvaged and put in. And LOVED the explanation on the mugs – that was exactly what I was thinking, that it would totally have been a Kelly Kapoor type party favor BUT we’d also believe that Andy would have one of those on his own. Love the subtlety. Thanks again.

  13. Thank you so much, Lester! Congratulations on your new baby! Thank you also, Tanster, for putting this together for us!

  14. > why won’t you answer the time line question?

    He did, by pretending his phone was ringing. Translation: “We don’t know either.”

    I thought it was nice of Lester to admit, “yeah, we screwed up/don’t know”, and he did it in such a funny way.

  15. These q&a’s make my day- thank you tanster and the writers! Haha I love Lester getting flustered over the screw-ups.

  16. Thank you, Lester, for answering our questions! It’s awesome that the writers are willing to do this for the fans. Also, thank you, tanster, for posting these.

  17. Thanks so much for doing this Lester, and Tanster!

    Awesome Q&A as usual! Not only informative but funny. I remember someone asking about the “rape” line (or perhaps was just mentioned in the Ep. comments? I’m pretty sure it was in both though)and was looking forward to reading Lester’s take on it because I really thought it was so Kelly to say that I found it hilarious unlike some people out there.

    Too bad that Q didn’t make it, I like controversy! :D

    -JK came up with the funniest TWSS line in The Office’s history! Awesome!

  18. I get so excited when one of my questions get answered. These are so good. I love the behind the scenes stuff.

  19. Thanks tanster for setting these interviews all up, and a special thanks to the writers/staff who graciously answer everyone’s questions, it just proves how amazingly close this show is to its loyal fans!

    Also my question was answered, yay!! I saw my username and I had a happy heart attack! :-)

  20. First and foremost, huge congratulations to Lester and his wife on their new baby boy! Thanks so much for another amazing Q&A on another fantastic episode. I feel so lucky that we get this opportunity learn about all of the thought and care that goes into writing the show. No wonder The Office continues to be consistently great entertainment and no wonder my husband and I say, “Well, that was okay I guess, but it’s no Office” when we watch other comedies.

    I loved reading about Stephen Merchant’s collaboration, especially in the parking lot scene! And way to go on the mugs, Lester! You definitely deserve a bonus. The response to the head-scratching art school time line was hilarious! Maybe some die hard Office fan can be hired to be an Angela-esque continuity master. Tee hee! (And it totally couldn’t be oblivious me, because I would have never noticed anything odd about time unless I’d read about it here!)

  21. congrats on the new baby, thanks for taking the time.
    tanster – when we submit questions do you choose which ones to ask the writers or do they take a look at the list and decide which ones they want to answer themselves?

    [from tanster: both — i filter out all the duplicates and spoilerish questions, then the writers choose which ones they want to answer from the rest.]

  22. That was an amazing interview! Thanks for answering my question!! I love how John Krasinski came up with that TWSS line :)

  23. i love that john came up with the best that’s what she said line ever!!

    Awesome Q & A. Thanks Lester!

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