Steve Carell was notorious for making his The Office co-stars break. “I had to duck behind a plant — you can see in the actual episode,” Ed Helms said about filming the scene where Kevin sits on Michael Scott-as-Santa’s lap. “That was like take 30 because I had been laughing in every single take. He’s a genius.” But even Carell would lose it sometimes, especially if the word “pungent” was involved.
In the latest episode of the Office Ladies podcast, co-hosts Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey spoke to director Ken Whittingham and actress Phyllis Smith about the season three episode, “Phyllis’ Wedding.” That’s the one where — you won’t believe this — Phyllis gets married to Bob Vance, inspiring a million “I’m not a Jim looking for a Pam — I’m a Bob looking for a Phyllis” bios on Tinder. Before the ceremony, Michael visits Phyllis in her dressing room, where he accuses her of nervously breaking wind.
“That scene was unbelievable. We had the best time. I don’t know how many times we had to stop to start over because there was one word in particular that we just could not get through,” Smith said on the podcast, via Mashable. “And that was ‘pungent.’ Every time Steve said the word ‘pungent’ he would break out into this high-pitched cackle. And then I would start laughing. And then all of a sudden we heard the Video Village and the sound people outside the door, because we were in a small dressing room area with just the camera guy and a sound boom… So we could hear them cackling and laughing on the outside.” Smith said she was laughing so hard that “I couldn’t breathe.”
You can see Carell struggling to keep it together in the episode.
If you come across Carell in public (post-COVID, of course), whisper the word “pungent” in his ear. He’ll either start giggling like Skeletor, or punch you in the stomach. It’ll make a good story either way. Listen to the Office Ladies episode here.