The Office is nothing short of comedic gold. There are plenty of episodes that produce laugh-out-loud moments. However, some episodes were standouts and even funnier than normal. “Dinner Party” is such an episode. The episode, in which Michael coerces a handful of his employees to come to his and Jan’s condo, left everyone from the writers to the cast and crew in shambles.
‘The Office’ writers knew that ‘Dinner Party’ was special at the table read
The Office cast hasn’t been shy about the fact that “Dinner Party” was a particularly difficult episode to film. There are no shortage of outtakes on the Internet where the actors break character with their laughter. But the giggles actually started long before the cameras ever got rolling. In fact, Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (co-writers of the episode) knew they had something special at the table read.
A table read is an important part of the pre-production process. It occurs when the cast, crew, and other creatives get together to hear a script read aloud. During the table read, everything from the dialogue to the stage directions is read to really help lift the story off of the page. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Stupnitsky recalled how The Office cast and crew first reacted to the episode.
Gene Stupnitsky was laughing so hard he sweat through his T-Shirt
“It started off very slow,” The Office writer shared. “Not a lot of laughs. Little by little, it just starts building, and I never experienced that before. The laughs kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. I remember I was just sweating through my T-shirt. It was the greatest feeling I’ve ever had.”
‘The Office’ star, Steve Carell, struggled to get through his lines when he read ‘Dinner Party’ for the first time
The episode was so humorous that even Steve Carell, a trained improv performer, was struggling to keep the giggles at bay. “There’s nothing more satisfying than having Steve Carell barely able to get through his lines,” Eisenberg remembered. “It’s like a live show. You’re seeing someone experience it right in front of you for the first time, which is great.”
Of course, the writers of the episode weren’t the only ones who recalled just how magical the “Dinner Party” table read was. Ed Helms, who portrayed Andy Bernard in The Office, revealed that the table read made him realize that the cast was going to have a ball while filming the iconic episode.
Ed Helms recalls the table read for the beloved episode
“Sometimes table reads are quick and easy, and sometimes they’re a bit of a slog, and that one had just so many laughs already built into it,” The Office star shared. “Gene and Lee just had such a grasp of the voice of the show and of these characters that we knew that, yes, we’re on to something special here. This is going to be a blast.”
Helms’ premonitions were certainly correct. In fact, he spent a lot of the episode doing everything in his power to keep himself from laughing. Clearly, The Office cast and crew had a ball writing and filming “Dinner Party.” It’s no wonder that the episode remains so popular over 14 years later.