There was no shortage of Jim pranking Dwight on The Office, from the very first episode to the very last. While every fan has their favorite Jim Halpert prank, there’s one that had a very small detail that most viewers didn’t even catch.
Jim’s pranks on Dwight were legendary on ‘The Office’
There was definitely a give and take between Jim and Dwight on The Office and part of that relationship was the way Jim would prank Dwight nearly nonstop.
During the Aug. 4 episode of the An Oral History of The Office podcast, director Paul Feig explained why Jim and Dwight were a great comedy duo. “It’s a classic set up of the person who just wants to drive the other person crazy,” he said.
John Krasinski, who played Jim, said the characters were “magical” together, explaining, “Whatever happens when you put two polar opposite characters together is sort of magical because it’s the Odd Couple.”
He also shared how the pranks played on Dwight were really not mean-spirited and done in a brotherly way “that I think made them so great… I was doing something that I knew he [Dwight] kind of got a kick out too.”
One of the most involved pranks was a psychology experiment
One of Jim’s most epic pranks tested the Pavlovian theory of conditioning that pairs a stimulus with a response. In the cold open of the season 3 episode “Phyllis’ Wedding,” Jim paired the sound of his computer reboot chime with giving Dwight an Altoid mint and, over time, when Dwight hears the sound, he expects the mint.
In a talking head interview, Jim explains, “In school, we learned about this scientist who trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell by feeding them whenever a bell rang. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been conducting a similar experiment.”
In the real world, the prank would have played out over some time in order to condition someone to have the response to the stimulus. The Office definitely put the work into the details to give the illusion of how much time was involved.
There was a small detail many fans likely missed
Though the scene played out in a short time in The Office’s cold open, it was set up to give the feeling that Jim’s Pavlovian experiment was happening over several weeks.
During the Sept. 9 Office Ladies podcast, hosts Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey discussed the “classic Jim prank” and answered a question from some eagle-eyed fans about the scene.
“After several times of doing this, the ding goes off and Dwight immediately puts his hand out for a mint,” Fischer said about the scene. “And he doesn’t know why,” Kinsey added.
Fisher shared the fans question: “The scene is a montage of multiple days… did John and Rainn [Wilson] have to constantly change outfits just to get this one scene?”
The answer is yes, Fischer explained. “They had a rack of clothes of all these different changes” and would film and change and continue filming in multiple outfits.
But there’s another detail that’s interesting. Anyone in the background had to change too. “But guys, it wasn’t just John and Rainn,” Fischer said. “All the rest of us were in the background.”
Kinsey added, “Anyone that the camera saw had to change as well.”
Fischer said she recalled having seven outfits in her trailer for the scene, “which never happened,” explaining that typically, “we would have one outfit we would wear every single day for five days.”
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