A Little Piece of Dunder Mifflin was brought to Iowa City

Campus Activity Board hosted their Spring Comedy Show- The Office, which brought two actors from the hit show to the UI campus.


Alyson Kuennen

Comedians Leslie David Baker (Stanley) and Brian Baumgarter (Kevin), from “The Office”, speak at the IMU on Thursday, April 11, 2019. Baker (left) and Baumgarter shared anecdotes about their time on set and life following the show’s end.

Austin J. Yerington

The unmistakable piano chimes, the loud whistling of bagpipes, the iconic Penn Paper building sign is part of the intro of the hit television show The Office, an intro that has become a constant call echoing in halls of dorms and apartment buildings all throughout college campuses.

This cultural landmark of a television show was brought to Iowa City this week though CAB’s Spring Comedy Show- The Office, which brought the show’s own Leslie David Baker (Stanley Hudson) and Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone) to a sold out IMU Ballroom.

The two stars of the hit show, sat for an hour answering questions about the show, and launching into insightful and hilarious anecdotes about their experiences on set.

They also touched on how the cast was not just a great comedic ensemble but also a close group of friends, remarking how they, for the first two years of the show, would watch every episode at someone’s house as it aired. The humor that was brought out by the ensemble was also a hot topic for discussion.

“I learned early on to not look Steve Carell in the eye,” Baker said. “You look at his chin, his throat, his tie, you do not look him in the eye because any scene if you looked him in his eye, you were gone.”

Alyson Kuennen
Comedian Brian Baumgarter (Kevin), from “The Office”, gives a fist-bump to an audience member at the IMU on Thursday, April 11, 2019. Baumgarter and Leslie David Baker (Stanley) shared anecdotes about their time on set and life following the show’s end.

The actors spoke on the nature of the creative choices that the actors had with the scripts and how improvisation helped make some of the most iconic scenes from the show.

“When we were doing Fire (Stress Relief Pt. 1),” Baker said. “The whole thing with (Michael) doing the wallet and stuffing it in my mouth, none of that was in the script. When I saw him get this wallet I knew instantly what he was going to do. So I knew just relax your mouth and let it happen.”  

“That’s what he said!” Baumgartner chimed in.

In a private interview with the Daily Iowan, Baker spoke on his journey to acting instead of a career in social work and psychiatry.

“I went to med school for a bit and left there because I didn’t like it.” Baker said. “Then I was always acting as a hobby, didn’t ever think I would do it for a living until I was about 30. Then it just morphed into a career. And it is what it is.”

Baumgartner spoke on his journey from teenage athlete to dramatic actor to a comedic actor.

“I have wanted to be an actor from the time I was about 15 years old,” Baumgartner said. “I was very big into sports and I had a medical issue which took me out of serious sports. But I was an active kid so I found theater and decided that was what I was going to do. Most of the stuff I did before The Office was drama.”

With the show being famous for its rewatchability, Baker spoke on the ever giving humor of this mockumentary can offer repeat viewers.

“It allowed the audience to feel like they were spying and that they were in the middle of the office and there was a 360-degree view,” Baker said. “You can go back and watch episodes over and over and see little nuggets that you might not have seen the first time you viewed it.”

Alyson Kuennen
Comedian Leslie David Baker (Stanley), from “The Office”, speaks at the IMU on Thursday, April 11, 2019. Baker and Brian Baumgarter (Kevin) shared anecdotes about their time on set and life following the show’s end.

With this show getting more fans as it ages, the fans that run up to Baker and Baumgartner can range from person to person. But certain ones really strike the actors and make them proud of being a part of this show. Baumgartner explains two types that always makes him feel proud.

“One is military,” Baumgartner said. “When they come up and say when they were deployed somewhere, they watched the show. (The other) people who have gone through a significant hardship, most often medical issues, and they talk about it lifting up their spirits when they were in the hospital.”

Baumgartner spoke more of the appeal of the subversive comedy being a drawing force for audiences of a certain age.  

The Office is very subversive,” Baumgartner said. “The show deals with race and sexuality in a way that is different, unexpected, and that we can laugh at those things. I think that appeals to a younger, colleges, and high school people who are thinking about the world.”


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