Poor Kevin Malone on The Office.
If he wasn’t dropping chili that he made for his co-workers on the floor (a scene that was almost even more tragic), he was being mistaken for someone who’s “slow.” In the season four finale “Goodbye Toby,” Dwight hazes Holly, the Scranton’s branch new HR representative, by telling her that Kevin is “here on a special work program. He’s slow, you know, in the brain.” The accountant mistakes Holly’s kindness, like when she helps him decide what to get at the vending machine (“This is a button”), for romantic interest. It’s very awkward! But also very funny. In fact, Brian Baumgartner, the actor who played Kevin, called it the “the longest set-up of a joke in the history of television.”
In an interview with the Daily Beast‘s The Last Laugh podcast, the Oral History of The Office host was asked if he has a favorite Kevin storyline. He answered, “I would say my favorite storyline and probably the storyline that universally got the biggest laugh at the table read through was when Dwight tells Holly that Kevin is ‘slow.’ As a student of television and television comedy, it might be the longest set-up of a joke in the history of television. A four-year set-up for a joke, which I just think makes all the more satisfying.”
It was four years of set-up that continued into the season five premiere, when Kevin straight-up asks Holly, “Do you think that I’m retarded?” Even Angela has Kevin’s side in this uncomfortable moment, calling her Dwight-backed assumption “offensive.” Again, poor Kevin, but at least he never dated (and later married) someone with a bad goatee.