The Office is still making people laugh nearly seven years after its conclusion, and perhaps no episode makes people laugh (and cringe!) harder than “Dinner Party” from Season 4. The episode is rare in that it takes place outside of Dunder Mifflin, featuring an awkward get-together between four couples: Michael and Jan, Jim and Pam, Andy and Angela, and Dwight and his former babysitter, Melvina. Rolling Stone caught up with some of the writers from the series back in 2018 to talk about how the episode came together.
One of the many aspects of the episode that makes it funny comes towards the beginning when Jan puts on a CD of songs written by her former assistant, Hunter Raymond, starting with the classic hit “That One Night." The song's opening lines, "You took me by the hand/Made me a man," make it clear that it's likely about Jan.
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"We liked the idea that Michael was clueless and it was clear to everyone else that Jan took her ex-assistant’s virginity," said The Office writer Gene Stupnitsky. "Watching Carell, just kind of looking like there’s nothing in his eyes, just kind of bopping his head along slightly. He likes the song. He has no clue.'' The writers went on to explain that the track was written on an acoustic guitar and went through several iterations before they settled on the final version viewers hear, with the music created by New Pornographers guitarist Todd Fancey.
"I got a call from my friend Alicen Schneider, who was vice president of music creative services for NBC," Fancey recalled. "I was a huge fan of the show, and she said, 'Do you want to give this a shot?' I said, 'Sure, I’ll do it,' and the producers sent me the lyrics. I was living in Vancouver. I just went downstairs to my other apartment – I had two at the time – and boom. It came really quick. I wrote it on acoustic guitar. I went into a studio in suburban Vancouver and recorded it. My direction was “Make it sound kind of amateur. He’s a struggling musician.”
All their hard work making the song certainly paid off, because Jan awkwardly dancing to the CD is one of the most memorable scenes in The Office history. If you want to get even more behind-the-scenes details about the fan-favorite series, you can check out The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, a book full of interviews with the cast and crew. Buy it here.