Q&A with Michael Schur: Part 2

Tanster: So that if one of you “runs out of funny,” someone else can pick up the baton. Or some metaphor like that.

Michael: I like it. Nice work. I’m going to steal that.

As for future collaborations, I dare say we all like each other enough so that any two of us could be paired, for any episode, and have a good time working together. I’m sure there will be more of it. Although, if I have to work with Lee again I will freak the eff out.

(And since irony doesn’t always come across on the screen, let me add that I love Lee. I love him an almost inappropriate amount. Paul too. Gene, not so much. But Lee and Paul are great.)

Tanster: I am now totally confused as to who you really like and don’t like. I need a cheat sheet.

Michael: Love: Lee, Gene, Paul.
Strongly Dislike: Gene, Paul, Lee.

Tanster: What strengths do you bring to the writing team? (“Mike is really good at handling …”). Does each of the writers have a special writing superpower?

Michael: Here is each of the writers’ main strength in the room:

Mike: impeccable manners
Paul: typing
B.J.: making coffee
Mindy: fashion/shopping on-line
Gene: cell phone photographs
Justin: can shoot flames from fingers
Jen: very good at those mechanical claw games
Lee: handsome
Greg: has not demonstrated a talent yet
Brent: physical fitness

We also hired back Lester Lewis, who wrote with us on season one. His talent is also fashion, so he and Mindy will have to fight it out to see who wins. Ryan Koh’s talent, I’d say, is his encyclopedic knowledge of late-‘90’s hip hop. And Anthony Farrell has Death-Ray Vision.

Tanster: I kind of meant, like, WRITING superpowers. Not superhero superpowers. But whatever. And I would argue that fashion is a superpower, but being handsome is not.

Michael: Have you seen how handsome he is, though? Seems like a superpower to me. The guy stops traffic.

As for writing superpowers … honestly, everyone has something(s) they are good at. It’s the #1 perk of my job that I get to work with, and hang out with, this staff.

Just one example: when Mindy wrote the scene in “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” where young Michael Scott is being interviewed by the cat puppet, Edward R. Meow, she wrote that sad/crazy line about “I want to have a million friends so no one will ever not be able to be my friend” or whatever it is. And she followed it up with the all-time greatest stage direction: “Even though he’s a puppet, Edward R. Meow somehow manages to look confused.” It killed me. She thinks very visually. Her writing style, like everything about her, is unique.

Next up: Part Three — The origin of Dwight’s cousin, Mose

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65 comments

  1. There’s a part 3?! Tanster, you are heaven sent, my friend…this is a really fun and informative interview :)

  2. Tanster, thanks for doing this interview, and Mr. Schur thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. This is probably the most entertaining interview I’ve read in a long time, and gives us fans a perspective that we don’t often get to experience.

    Awesome.

  3. You mean there’s EVEN MORE TO COME?? Is it my birthday and no one told me? I love “Office” writers more than Michael Scott loves his hundred hypothetical children.

  4. Okay, when Michael starts laying into Paul, I totally lost it. The man is hilarious. (And I agree with his assessment of Mindy’s magical stage direction.)

  5. There’s going to be more?? :) Amazing! Can you do more writer interviews like this?? The writers are my favorite.

  6. that part from “take your daughter to work day” is one of my favorites from the series. the puppet looks completely stunned. i love it! great interview.

  7. awesome interviews to keep us going in the office drought, how many parts are there all up tans?

  8. Wow! Have I said yet how much I love your Michael Schur interviews? This is great stuff and I can’t believe there’s more! I can’t wait to read the rest.

  9. I know everyone has already said this but, honestly, interviews like this are really wonderful. Tanster–I’m so impressed that you held your own against someone whose job is to be clever and funny. And, I really love it that Michael was so willing to let us into the process. I feel selfish asking for more but…please, Please, PLEASE keep these kinds of substantive, behind-the-scenes conversations coming!

  10. please let this be part 2 of like…30?
    both of you are so amusing- i actually lol’ed in the literal sense of the term.

  11. Haha! Oh my god that is the funniest interview I have ever read. Michael Schur is a funny man. I like that likes, and dislikes list he made. LOL

    BTW that scene with the puppet was so funny. I was thinking about that too, how that puppet looked stunned even though it can’t really make any facial movements.

  12. Terrific! I love reading these interviews. Tanster, you did such a great job. I LOVE that line from Take Your Daughter To Work Day. I try to use it as much as possible, mostly because it makes me laugh. I don’t care what the other person’s reaction is. :)

  13. This is the best ‘Office’ related interview i have ever read. Tanster rocks the house. (whoop whoop).

  14. I think I may have just broken my toe, but this interview made me laugh so hard I forgot the pain! These insights into the writer’s world are so fantastic! I especially loved when Michael talked about Paul’s loud speaking voice. So funny! Tanster, you are awsome for snagging this interview and we, the fans, are so lucky! I love the writers as much as I love the actors. This is just beyond cool!

  15. I L0VE THESE! These interviews opens this like, door of information (hahah this sounds so cheesy) into the office. the writers are truly genius. i mean, really, they write everything on the office: every line, every glance, every grimace to the camera. pure genius!

  16. I know that this is going to sound really weird and embarrassing but I found Mose oddly attractive…

  17. These interviews are amazing and just make me yearn to be able to sit in on the writers table when they’re working on an episode. The Office sounds like the most amazing place to work – the cast and the writers all sound like fantastic people. Season 4… you are too far away!

  18. I just want to know if we will get anymore Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant written episodes because I LOVED The Convict!! I kept waiting for Tanster to ask that!

  19. I heart Michael Shur, or is it Mike? I wonder if the Michael (Scott)/Toby relationship originated from the Michael (Shur)/Paul relationship. I could so vividly imagine most of the stuff Michael was saying about Paul as a talking head in the show.
    I also loved to hear about Mindy’s abusive ways.
    Uber excited to hear about the origin of Mose, it sounds hysterical!

  20. Now this is an interview! Why these stupid entertainment reporters always ask such dumb questions.. and how they never talk to the writers is beyond me. I love this. You ask great questions Tanster! And Michael is just hilarious.

  21. This was a great interview. I was laughing so hard, I had tears running down my face. Thank you so much, Tanster.

  22. How were these interviews attained? Were they done over the telephone…instant messaging…through letters?

  23. No. 27: Minus the Amish-y beard, I thought he was a teensy bit cute too. So there you go.

  24. Reading this interview is making me so happy. Thanks so much again, Tanster, for sharing it with us!

  25. “Even though he is a puppet, Edward R. Meow somehow manages to look confused.”

    OMG. That just made my LIFE. Normally you’re not supposed to put jokes in stage directions (like ever, at all) but that is just awesome.

  26. I love Edward R. Meow. Mindy is a genius! That is one of my all-time favorite Office moments. The look of shock from a ridiculous puppet.

  27. Thanks, Tanster! This was so much fun! I want to be a writer for The Office, too! Hehehe.

  28. Kudos for securing the interview in the first place and I have to tell you, Tanster, I think you have found your true calling. Excellent work!

  29. I’m happy with my “Pam-casso” screen name, but if I didn’t already have one I’d go for some variation on “can shoot flames from fingers” because I think that might be the funniest single line in this whole interview.

  30. I know most of the writers on staff are in their late twenties, so I’m curious as to what they were doing when they were around my age–22, 23–that got them to where they are now.

    And once again, loved the interview tanster!

  31. Awesome, tanster. I’m truly impressed both with you landing such a good person to interview and with the interview itself.

    It would be great to hear interviews with all the writers one at a time some day in the future but for now this is more than I ever expected.

  32. it’s crazy how happy these interviews make me. i can now say, without a doubt, that my dream job would be to write for the office. why is september so far awayyyy???

  33. Great interview, Tanster. I enjoyed it immensely. Great insight into the crazy/genius minds that bring us The Office!

  34. I love these writers (and you, Tanster, for posting the interviews). I’d do anything to spend even a day in the writers’ room.

  35. i’m so crazy jealous that i don’t know these people. i just want to be friends with them.

    mike is hilarious, and i’m sure everyone on the show is freaking funny also. i kind of want to cry this was so good. thanks.

  36. Great stuff!! You should ask him how is it having Regis Philbin as his father-in-law! Haha

  37. wow more parts to come! that was great tanster!
    haha i loved that scene when michael says he wants 100 kids so he could have 100 friends [and no one can say no lol]

  38. Wow. Great interview! I’m so happy that you got to chat with Mike. Thanks for sharing!

  39. Thank you so much–this is an amazing interview. It just gets better and better and I can’t stop laughing! I love this guy!

  40. that was fantastic, he is so funny. and I totally agree with Ruby, he did look cute under that beard. I wonder if the Office audiences will ever meet Mose again, I hope so :)

  41. Thanks Tanster – what a fantastic interview! He is so funny ( and so are you!)

    Great job!

  42. Great interview again! Thanks for sharing, tanster! Aww…you and Michael Schur have such a great rapport…any chance of you guest-starring on the show as Cousin Mose’s nemesis, who stands in the way of his merciless quest for total monopoly of the beet farming industry?

  43. Actually wouldn’t that be great if Tanster could guest star as Mose’ girlfriend! haha…[I shouldn’t laugh cause it might happen….]

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