Mose Schrute is in the house! Or rather, he’s on the podcast.
On the latest episode of the Office Ladies podcast, former co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey took a break from recapping episodes to interview comedic genius Mike Schur. For those who don’t know, Schur worked as a writer on The Office from Seasons 1-4, played Dwight’s quirky cousin Mose Schrute in 13 episodes, and he also created other iconic series, including The Good Place and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
During the podcast episode, Schur talked about everything from his days at Saturday Night Live to his new book, How to Be Perfect. Naturally, he also reminisced about his time on The Office and shared how he started working on the show as a writer and an actor, what it was like learning from showrunner Greg Daniels, and more.
As Office Ladies fans have learned over the years, many storylines on the show — including the “Diversity Day” and “Office Olympics” episodes — were inspired by real-life experiences of staff members. Schur shared one of his own IRL embarrassing moments that made its way into one of the fan-favorite episodes he wrote: “Christmas Party.”
In the Season 2 episode, Dwight lights the office’s Christmas tree in one of the most lackluster unveils of all time. The lights Phyllis used to decorate the tree were so small that they barely glowed in the dark, and the painfully embarrassing scene came straight from Schur’s own Christmas mishap.
“My first Christmas in LA, my fiancé/now wife J.J. [Philbin] and I got our first tree as cohabitants and we were so excited. We both love Christmas. We love decorating the tree. We love everything. And we bought the tree, and we took it home. We put it up and we played Christmas music,” Schur explained. “In my house growing up, you always did only white lights. I don’t know why. That was what our family preferred. And J.J. had been like, ‘I like the big colored ones. They’re so cheery and happy.’ And I, for some reason, won the argument. I don’t know why, but I was like, ‘Trust me, it looks great. It looks great.’ And so I went and bought those little tiny white lights, and I very carefully strung them around the tree and everything. And then we’re playing Christmas music, and it was like a big countdown. I turn them on and you absolutely could not see any of them there.”
“It was the saddest. It was the opposite of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting. And I was immediately humiliated, and my wife was just laughing at me so hard. Like just what a complete failure this was. And I immediately went out and went to the drugstore and bought big, big colored lights and came home and we strung them up,” he continued. “But I remember that that feeling, and that episode is so much about like expectation vs. reality. And so I was like, ‘Oh. That would be a good little metaphor for what’s about to happen to Michael Scott when he gets Phyllis’ oven mitt.’ So I just put it in [and] Greg was so into it.”
Schur went on to stress that the show is “so into those tiny, tiny, tiny, observable moments of real life” and said his favorite thing about the scene is that after they turned the lights on and Michael says, “Not great,” there’s a quick pan to Angela, who “looks angrier than she has ever looked in her entire life.”
It was a fantastic scene before, but knowing that it came from a real-life embarrassing Schur-mas makes it perfect.
Be sure to listen to the full podcast episode to hear more behind-the-scenes stories from Schur.