‘The Office’: Why Certain Funny Scenes Were Called a ‘Killing Field’

The writers of The Office had nicknames for different types of scenes on the show. One of them was a “killing field.” Find out what was the meaning behind the name and how stars like Steve Carell approached the jokes in the show.

Steve Carell would try to get other actors of ‘The Office’ to break

Ed Helms as Andy Bernard, Steve Carell as Michael Scott on 'The Office'
Ed Helms as Andy Bernard, Steve Carell as Michael Scott on ‘The Office’ | Trae Patton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

RELATED: ‘The Office’: An Actor Who Almost Got the Role of Dwight Played Another Character in the Show

Writers worked hard to come up with jokes for the show. But the actors would improvise and try to push those works further.

Jenna Fischer, who played Pam Beesly, brought this up on the Office Ladies podcast. They talked about Carell doing the robot for a longer time than what was scripted in “Email Surveillance.”

“Oscar’s trying to get a word out and Steve just keeps doing the robot thing,” said Fischer. “I remember shooting that. So in the script, that was not supposed to go on that long. That was supposed to be like a quick little thing but Steve really dragged it out and that was an example I think of some of his just brilliant comedic timing.”

Angela Kinsey, who played Angela Martin, said this was normal for Carell. “I honestly think that Steve would drag things out like that to see when he could get all of us to break,” she said.

Oscar Nuñez had the nickname ‘The Statue’

RELATED: ‘The Office’: Why Steve Carell Once Refused to Work, Shutting Down Production

Many actors broke character while filming funny scenes. Kinsey said there was one actor who hardly ever broke.

“Oscar, you never break,” Fischer said to Oscar Nuñez, who played Oscar Martinez on Office Ladies. “You never break!” Fischer claimed the times he broke throughout the filming of the entire series could be counted on one hand.

“My nickname for Oscar was the statue because he never broke,” Kinsey revealed. The actor went on to say that when he was about to break, he would make a small grunt that wasn’t really heard by other people.

Scenes with non-stop jokes were called a killing field

RELATED: ‘The Office’: Jenna Fischer Used Her Feelings of Missing John Krasinski to Play Pam in Season 3

Creator Greg Daniels talked to The Rolling Stone about the making of the episode, “The Dinner Party.” Michael tricks people in the office into coming over to his home with Jan (Melora Hardin) for a dinner party.

Co-writer Lee Eisenberg noted, “An episode like this lives a lot in the awkward pauses. A line would happen and the audience, along with the people at the dinner, would just kind of sit there and let it hang. And so the rhythms of this episode are slightly different.”

Daniels then talked about when scenes are more fast-paced. “I had an expression that I used in the writers room to describe a scene where the situation was charged, where several characters had different opinions and there was an excuse for them to all sit around and fire off great lines one at a time,” he said. “I called it a ‘killing field,’ like it was just nonstop joke-joke-joke. They were usually scenes like a diversity-training seminar in the conference room. Once Jim and Pam got to the condo, this entire episode was a killing field.”

The pacing of the jokes differ between scenes. But some of the memorable episodes tend to be a killing field.