‘The Office’: Why B.J. Novak Fought for the Surgeon Joke in the ‘Happy Hour’ Episode

There are plenty of fan-favorite episodes of The Office, but the “Happy Hour” episode from Season 6 of the hit show is always one that fans like to revisit. This is, of course, the episode where fans had the opportunity to meet “Date Mike.” Date Mike is Michael Scott’s hilarious depiction of what he feels women are attracted to. But “Happy Hour” is actually memorable for its beloved surgeon joke as well.

The Office star B.J. Novak in character as Ryan Howard films an episode of Season 3
B.J. Novak | Mitchell Haaseth/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

For fans of The Office who need a refresher, the surgeon joke involves a warehouse worker called Hyde who joins his coworkers for a night out at the bar. Darryl seems to feel pride that he hired Hide and helped him get on his feet in America. However, when the documentary people speak to the surgeon turned warehouse worker at Dunder Mifflin, it is revealed that he is actually a murderer.

What is the memorable surgeon joke from ‘The Office’?

“In Japan, heart surgeon,” the infamous surgeon joke of The Office begins. “Number one. Steady hand. One day, Yakuza boss need new heart. I do operation. But, mistake! Yakuza boss die. Yakuza very mad. I hide in fishing boat, come to America. No English, no food, no money. Darryl give me job. Now I have house, American car, and new woman. Darryl save life. My big secret: I kill yakuza boss on purpose. I good surgeon. The best!”

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It’s great that fans of The Office find the surgeon joke hilarious and memorable because it took a fair amount of work to make the joke happen. Back in 2010, B.J. Novak (who wrote for the show in addition to being a member of the cast) spoke to Office Tally about the logistics behind bringing the memorable joke to life.

Cast member and writer, B.J. Novak, made it his mission to get the joke into the show

“It was a particular mission of mine to get that in the episode,” The Office alum confessed. “We shot six versions — two entirely different backstories, and filmed each of them solo at the warehouse, solo at the bar, and at the bar with Darryl.” But why was the surgeon joke so important to Novak? According to the writer, he loved the irony of someone with a far more interesting backstory getting passed by the documentary crew.

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“I liked the idea that Hide (played by Hidetoshi Imura) had a life story infinitely more dramatic than anyone else the documentary crew has been following, but that they had never thought to ask,” Novak shared. “He’s been a background player for years.” Since the “Happy Hour” episode was written by Novak, he is responsible for writing the surgeon joke in addition to making sure it made the cut. However, Hidetoshi Imura (who played Hide) did make one hilarious addition to the joke.

‘The Office’ writer reveals part of the surgeon joke was improvised by the actor

‘Hide improvised one piece of the monologue: the inclusion of ‘American car’ among his good fortunes,” Novak admitted. “I did not quite understand why someone from Japan would take such specific pride in owning an American car, but I enjoyed it and we went with it.” We’re sure fans of The Office appreciated Imura’s addition. Personally, we think it makes an already hilarious bit that much funnier considering most people would agree that Japanese cars are far superior to American ones.