The Office's Brian Baumgartner Jokes Which Sitcom Was ‘Painfully’ Not Funny

The Office may have premiered in 2005 but it’s never been more popular than now. Executive producer Ben Silverman and funnyman Brian Baumgartner joined Ryan Seacrest via Zoom on Tuesday, July 21, and shared why the time was now to delve into a new podcast behind the hit workplace comedy. The duo also joked which successful sitcom prior to The Office was “painfully” not funny.

“It feels like The Office is almost as big as it is now as it was when we were the No. 1 show on NBC,” actor Brian Baumgartner, who played Kevin on the hit series, shared, revealing the show has actually gained a whole new audience. “… And, as we got into it, 82 billion minutes were streamed in 2018. Billion with a B minutes streamed in 2018,” he repeated. “It's by any metric now the most watched show in television and we haven’t shot a scene in 7 years.”

Plus, Brian added, amid COVID-19 quarantine, viewers were quick to first turn on The Office.

“The first day of the pandemic, like, March 15, that Sunday which was like the universal first day of lockdown, 250 million minutes were streamed on Netflix on that day alone,” he shared. “And so I talked to Ben and I said I wanted to look at the question, ‘Why? Why is this show now more popular than it was when it was on?’ And, specifically," he added. "‘Why are 11, 12, 13-year-olds, why do they love this show?’”

Aside from being hilarious, Brian and Ben both agreed the series can resonate with all ages who can relate to being in either school or the workplace.  

“I think where it translates is a huge parallel to school,” Brian said. “You have a crazy boss slash teacher; you’re sitting next to people you don’t choose to sit next to, [etc].“

Ben also shared, at the time, there weren’t very funny shows on the air.

As for which?

Well, the duo didn’t flat out name any sitcoms but Brian did leave listeners with some homework: “Go to YouTube — this is amazing, someone is a genius — go to YouTube and Google, name a show, and write 'no laugh track’ … and if you go in, they’ll show a clip of certain shows without a laugh track and it is painful! It is painful. You’re like, ‘Why is there a gigantic pause when nothing funny has been said?’ It’s crazy.”

Watch back the full interview in the video above and listen to An Oral History of The Office here!