There’s this infamous scene in The Office where Kevin, the resident dumb guy, brings a pot of chili to work to share with his coworkers. He spills the chili and frantically tries to scoop it back into the pot using various office supplies, eventually swimming in the chili himself. This scene has gained so much renown that even people who haven’t watched The Office know about it. It’s been made into memes and used in merch, and honestly, I don’t understand the appeal. I didn’t get it when a friend showed me the scene before I had even watched The Office, and I still don’t get it after watching the entire show twice. Granted, I haven’t seen The Office 12 times like superfan Billie Eilish, but I know a thing or two about it, and I can name 8 scenes that are way funnier than the Kevin chili scene. In fact, I will.
- Fire Drill
People like the Kevin chili scene because it becomes progressively more and more absurd, but the fire drill scene in season 5 pushes the bounds of absurdity much further, and for that reason I think it’s funnier. In essence, Dwight starts a fake fire in the office because his coworkers didn’t listen to his fire safety presentation the week before, so he wants to teach them a lesson. He locks all the doors so no one can escape and mayhem ensues. Oscar tries to escape through the air ducts, Angela throws her cat upwards into the air ducts in an attempt to save her, Jim and Andy try to open a door by ramming the copier through it, Kevin smashes the vending machine glass to access the snacks inside… Oh yeah, and Stanley has a heart attack after Dwight reveals his deception. What a great scene.
- Lazy Scranton
Of all of Michael’s creative ventures, the Lazy Scranton rap he performs with Dwight is my favorite. To be completely honest, I didn’t even giggle at Michael’s homemade movie, Threat Level: Midnight, but I thought this rap was hilarious. Apparently, it’s a parody of an SNL short called “Lazy Sunday”. The mix of the yell-talking, direct eye contact into the camera, unexpected rhymes, and Rainn Wilson trying not to laugh gets me every time. My favorite lines are “Lazy Scranton, the electric city / They call it that because of the electricity” and “Plenty of space in the parking lot / But the little cars go in the compact spot, spot, spot…”
- Murder Mystery + The Standoff
I combined these two scenes because they’re both featured in the same episode. Michael makes the team play a murder mystery game to distract them from the fact that Dunder-Mifflin might have gone under and they could soon lose their jobs. This scene produced this genius nugget regarding determining who’s guilty of a crime: “It’s never the person you most suspect. It’s also never the person you least suspect. It’s the person you medium-suspect.” See also: Oscar’s tragic Savannah accent. The standoff scene at the end of the show has also made for perfect meme material; just slap some words on each character indicating competing ideas or interests and you’ve got yourself a meme. It’s a great episode, I do declare.
- Dwight’s Acceptance Speech
Dwight is named salesman of the year at Dunder-Mifflin and has to deliver a speech about it at a big meeting. He’s nervous, so Jim, being the prankster that he is, gives him tips using speeches made by dictators like Benito Mussolini. The resulting speech isn’t just hilarious because of the clash between the subject matter (selling paper) and Dwight’s dictatorial tone, but also because the crowd actually responds well and cheers for Dwight. It’s a hilariously depressing commentary on mob mentality and the horrific appeal of dictatorship under the right social and economic circumstances (or maybe I’m reading too much into it). Also, if you pay attention, you’ll notice that when Dwight finally becomes manager near the end of the show, he hangs up a portrait of himself with rays of sunshine surrounding him, much in the style of Mao Zedong’s cover portrait on his Little Red Book. Dictator, indeed.
- The Balloon is Falling!
Pam excitedly announces to the office that a balloon that has been floating in the rafters of the warehouse for years is finally coming down. Everyone runs down to the warehouse to watch the balloon make its descent, but it becomes a pity party once everyone nostalgically remembers who they were and what their lives were like when the balloon first floated up to the ceiling. It’s sad and anti-climactic, so they encourage Darryl to “Kill the balloon!” with the forklift, erupting in cheers once it’s popped. This scene is just the perfect mix of pathos and humor, tragedy and comedy (whoops, I’m reading too much into a sitcom again). If you thought Kevin’s despondent expression in spilling his chili was funny, I guarantee you’ll find the mundane gloom of this scene hilarious.
- Dwight and Andy’s Musical Duel for Erin
Dwight and Andy compete to impress the new receptionist, Erin, through a duet of John Denver’s “Country Roads.” It starts out as a regular guitar song, then Andy plays a much more complex version on his bango, and before you know it Dwight is singing it in German. They become so absorbed in the song that they forget about Erin. Also, Ed Helms is obviously an amazing singer, but it turns out Rainn Wilson isn’t half-bad either. Who knew.
- First Aid Fail
The office has a first aid training session but it devolves into a dance party after the instructor tells Michael to pump to the tune of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. The dummy is pronounced “dead,” Michael decides that it’s hypothetically an organ donor, and Dwight proceeds to attempt to cut out its nonexistent organs, later on cutting off the dummy face’s to imitate Hannibal Lecter. On the absurdity scale, this scene is definitely a close second to the fire drill scene. In writing this article I’ve also learned that I’m pretty biased towards musical humor, so the spontaneous dance party had me in stitches. It turns out that an Arizona man who learned CPR from this very scene saved a woman’s life in 2019; he had no previous CPR training, but thanks to The Office, he knew to administer CPR to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive.”
- Kelly’s Birthday
Jim and Dwight are tasked with throwing Kelly’s birthday party after the party planning committee is dissolved because of drama. In the end, it doesn’t turn out so bad, but the decorations are what get me. Dwight hangs balloons in the colors of brown, grey, and black “because they match the carpet.” The balloons are also barely inflated, so they’re just these sad-looking, pruney sacks hanging from the ceiling. Dwight also hangs up a banner simply stating ‘It is your birthday.’ because it’s obviously more professional than the traditional ‘Happy birthday!’ I would not mind a similarly-decorated birthday party for myself–just for sh*ts n’ giggles, y’know?
There you have it: eight scenes that are far superior than the Kevin chili scene. This has been a public service announcement to stop obsessing over Kevin and his famous chili (also a tribute to Dwight Schrute/Rainn Wilson, whom I am apparently very fond of).