At one time or another everyone on set of The Office had to break. It was inevitable.
Since Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey started the Office Ladies podcast in October 2019 they shared that cast members broke when filming the “Branch Wars” episode, during “Women’s Appreciation,” during “Money,” and many other hilarious scenes. When chatting about the Season 5 episode, “Framing Toby,” however, Fischer finally revealed the two times she’s laughed the hardest on set.
If you need a little refresher, “Framing Toby” was packed with engaging storylines. Much to Michael’s dismay Toby returned from Costa Rica, the office fought over a dirty microwave, Ryan dumped Kelly, and of course, Jim surprised Pam with news that he purchased his parents’ house for them. (Creepy clown painting and all!)
The creepy, comical clown painting
Speaking of the clown painting that was inexplicably stuck to the wall, let’s talk about the scene in “Framing Toby” that made Fischer laugh the second hardest she’d ever laughed while filming.
“The scene where Jim is trying to take the clown painting off the wall for Pam is one of the hardest I’ve ever laughed on the show. It is the second hardest time,” Fischer told Kinsey. (The first, she said, was when they filmed the plasma TV scene in “Dinner Party.” Absolutely iconic.)
“This is the second. Every time John tried to lift the painting on the wall, I could not stop laughing. I don’t know what it was. Tears, tears, choking on our laughter. We laughed so hard,” she continued. “I looked for it in the bloopers and it’s not there. And I’m so upset it’s not there. It took us like an hour to shoot that tiny moment of him…”
“Trying to take that painting off the wall?” Kinsey asked?
“Trying to take the painting off the wall,” Fischer confirmed.
“John is also so funny at physical comedy,” Kinsey added. “I laughed out loud when he pulled back that fake wood paneling and it kind of startled him.”
“Yes. So then at the end of the scene in the garage, when we’re hugging, I improvised the line, ‘What about the clown?’ And it made John laugh. And that’s why he’s like burying his head into my neck. And then when he said, ‘Yeah, I can’t do anything about that,’ it made me laugh. And so I’m like smashing my face into his shoulder,” Fischer explained. “You can totally tell we’re breaking. And that’s why. It was because we were still — any time we brought up the clown painting, we lost it.”
Seriously, though. What was up with the clown?
At this point in time you likely still have questions about that clown painting. I know I do. Sadly, Fischer and Kinsey don’t know the whole story, but they were able to share a few additional details.
“In the script, it just says, ‘Jim examines a hideous painting of some clowns putting out a fire. He tries to pull it off with all his might. Nothing. Jim grimaces,'” Fischer said. “[Producer] Randy Cordray told me that that clown painting was provided. It was made original for us by one of [prop master] Phil Shea’s go-to artists… But Randy said that the artist actually provided them with multiple preliminary choices and that Mindy [Kaling], Greg [Daniels], Paul [Feig], and Jen [Celotta] all had to stand and look at multiple clown paintings. And that’s the one they chose.”
“It cracked me up that it was on the wall like that and that he couldn’t remove it because I feel like that’s such a dad move,” Kinsey said. “You know, it’s like that moment where your mom is like, ‘That painting is always tilted, it’s always tilted.’ And then your dad goes and superglues it to the wall because he’s tired of it tilting. It just made me laugh. I want to know the story behind why they bolted it down.”
“Yeah. What is the story there? There’s a story. We don’t know what it is exactly,” Fischer said.
“We don’t know,” Kinsey confirmed.
What Office fans do know is that later on in the series Jim and Pam somehow get the creepy clown painting off the wall. In an amazing Easter egg, the work of art (?) was shown for sale at the warehouse in “Garage Sale,” Episode 19 of Season 7.
TELL US HOW YOU REMOVED THE CLOWN.
Credit: the office / nbc / peacock
Welp, there goes the structural integrity of the Halpert home.
Be sure to listen to the full podcast episode for more behind-the-scenes details about Jim’s childhood home and stories from filming “Framing Toby.”