The Office ‘Murder’ Q&A with Danny Chun

Q. What was your favorite scene in the episode? | Moneybeets

Danny: I really liked writing the scene at reception where Erin and Andy have that awful misunderstanding. And shooting it was amazing — they did it a hundred ways that were all great.

The game portions were fun too, but I was worried because Michael is such an amazing source of comedy and I was basically turning him into someone else for half the episode. I’m glad it worked (I think).

Q. Who was your favorite character to write for? Hardest to write for? | ChooseToBe

Danny: After being an Office fan for 5 years, I was definitely most excited to get to write for Michael.

Hardest, maybe Michael as well. It’s easy to write Michael lines that are too dumb or too stream-of-consciousness.

For example, I had a line where Michael is explaining the game and says, “It’s so fun — it’s like if the movie Clue were a game!” That was just too stupid. More of a Homer line. 

Q. What line would you say you’re most proud of? | Kenna

Danny: Uhhhhhhhhhh … maybe “Just poopin’. You know how I be.” Or Michael’s tossed-off “I make them feel beautiful.” I also really liked naming Angela Voodoo Mama Juju. Oh, and I liked when Andy says he did standup and killed and Michael laughs, “Sounds like it was hilarious.”

In summation, I am a big fan of my own writing.

Q. My question is, if you don’t mind, giving us a little history on your background and personal life, such as where you were born, and where your parents/family are from? Also, has being Asian American influenced/affected your work and career in either a positive and negative way. Do you ever plan on using some of your family’s history and culture in future writing projects? | Dennis C.

Danny: I was born in Illinois but grew up in the Poconos. My parents moved from South Korea in the 70s. I grew up around white people, so I didn’t really identify much with Asian culture (I love Korean food though).

But I was self-conscious about being Asian, so that might be why I tried so hard to be funny, so I could fit in. As far as my career is concerned, it hasn’t felt like a big factor. I’m sure I’ll mine my family for material at some point, but I think every writer does that. 

Q. Was it hard to write the scene where Michael becomes truly furious and says “Shut up!” to Jim? Was it a lot of pressure to write an episode where a huge event happens (Dunder Mifflin bankruptcy) that almost changes the entire “social order” or status quo? Do you watch Mad Men – was it a coincidence that both shows had a major company go down in flames this week? | songer

Danny: Compared to thinking of a funny joke, that scene felt kinda easy. And I’d say it was actually a bit of a relief to write a story with big Dunder Mifflin stakes. That meant the drama was built-in, and it wouldn’t take a lot of heavy lifting to make people care about the story.

It was still a challenge, of course, to make it unfold well, avoid being too heavy-handed, etc., but I still felt lucky. And coming from The Simpsons, where there are no arcs, it was really exciting to write this episode.

I do watch, and love, Mad Men, but it was a total coincidence. The parallels between Mad Men and Friday Night Lights seem suspicious to me, though.

Q. How did you manage to tear Greg Daniels away from ‘Parks and Recreation’ to direct your episode? Can you describe the collaboration process? | tanster

Danny: Greg splits time between his two shows, and I think he’d built into his schedule a week to direct an Office episode. I’m very happy it was mine — working with Greg was fantastic. I can’t imagine a better experience for my first episode.

The collaboration process is different for every director-writer pairing. For Murder, Greg was really on top of things and made great decisions. Every so often I spoke up when I thought I had something to add to people’s understanding of a scene. And Greg was great about guiding me along, asking for my opinion, etc.

Q. Will you ever have a character on-screen? Perhaps one of Darryl’s boyz in the hood warehouse guys? | DJ Jazzy Flax

Danny: If you knew what I looked like, you’d never think of me as the kind of person who makes his living by lifting stuff. 

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

22 comments

  1. Great interview! Thanks, Danny! I agree that one of the best lines from Thursday was “Just poopin’. You know how I be.” I chuckle often while I watch TV, but rarely do I laugh out loud. That was an LOL moment.

  2. Thank you for answering questions! And I agree with you and #1. “Just poopin’, you know how I be” was awesome.

  3. Thanks so much Danny! really funny answers and very informative. I’m also a part of the large group of people who “lol’ed” at “just pooping, you know how I be” It was so unexpected.

  4. These were the best As of any Q&A ever. Thanks so much for all of the great behind the scenes info–it was really funny and interesting! I’d think I’d even be happy to read Danny Chun’s to-do list or grocery list any day–his writing is so fun to read! The collaborative, generous efforts that go into the scripts are so impressive. I loved this episode, it was so funny and well done. (I wish that Michael’s line about Shawn Mullins had been in the final cut too!)

  5. LOL i thought that i was the only one who ROTFL when andy is talking to michael about his standup comedy

  6. I literally died laughing when I was reading the Southern pun names. Being from the south, I love that he made a pun using the name of the city where I live. Awesome. And the accents cracked me up too, mostly with how far off some were.

  7. Awesome interview! He’s hilarious! Thanks Danny for answering our questions!

    I agree with #7! Someone should have told him that the shorthand for Jim and Pam is JAM! :D

  8. #7 and #12: Are you familiar with sarcasm? ;) Lol. I’m pretty sure he was being ironic. This is an Office writer after all.

    But yeah, thank you so much Danny Chun! GREAT Q&A, and keep up the good work!

  9. Ahhhh!! Oh my goodness :D All my questions were answered! Thank you so much Danny and Tanster. I’ll just believe the hamster was really named Tina. lol

  10. Danny, thanks for doing the Q&A, you are such a wonderful asset to The Office team!

    I love that your episode is titled MURDER – every time I see that, I think it’s called MUKDUK :)

    *** You guys, I’m pretty sure he was being funny re. JH & P ***

  11. I’m pretty sure Danny knows about the term ‘JAM’. :)

    Thanks DChun! Loved the episode and the Q&A!

  12. What a fantastic, funny, in-depth Q&A! The Southern pun names are so great – I think Carl Erdgreens is my favorite. And I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at the Michael line about Shawn Mullins. I wish that had made it, too.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to do this for us, Danny! Awesome read. :)

  13. Thanks for taking the time to do a Q&A Danny! And thanks for answering one of my questions! Wooo! A first for me!

    I loved all the pun names as well. So clever!

    And it’s a shame Michael’s line about Shawn Mullin’s didn’t make it into the ep. It was a good one.

    (And yeah, I think he was joking about the JAM term, too.)

  14. I agree – the Q&A was just as funny as the episode! I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud at a Q&A. Hopefully we’ll be seeing Danny’s name in the writing credits more often. Thanks for answering my question too. (You’re sure the hamster wasn’t named “Stapler”?)
    :)

  15. Thanks for answering my question, Danny! It’s awesome that an Office writer acknowledged my existence! I loved the answers. One of the funniest Q&As ever. I love Rainn’s response.

  16. The Murder Mystery episode was one of my favorites; it was just too much fun. They did such a great job with everything, awesome work everyone.

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