Bears. Beets. Ben Franklin.
Yeah, I know that isn’t how the saying goes. But for the purposes of today’s Office Ladies recap let’s just pretend, OK?
Daly — who you might know best from Veep, Modern Family, Review, Comedy Bang Bang, and Eastbound and Down — recalled how he got cast on The Office, his favorite memories from filming, and much more.
To recap, in this episode Michael asks Jim to hire a male stripper to help the women of the office celebrate Phyllis’ upcoming wedding. Instead of hiring a stripper, Jim hires a historical speaker who impersonates Ben Franklin for a living (Daly,) and things get a little NSFW.
Getting cast on The Office
Like so many other cast members, Daly gave a shout out to casting director Allison Jones when explaining how he landed the role on the show.
“Here’s my funny story about Allison Jones. When the UCB Theater opened in Los Angeles we were doing ASSSSCAT every Saturday and Sunday night. That’s a fully improvised long form show,” Daly said. “I was in it every Saturday and Sunday, and we acquired a superfan — this woman who just seemed to be at almost every show. And we got to talking to her a little bit during the show and a little bit after the show. And she just seemed like such a sweet, nice lady who was just a real improv superfan. And then I got an audition for this role of Benjamin Franklin in The Office, and I went to the audition and the casting director was that lady.”
Though Daly auditioned for the role of the Ben Franklin impersonator, he was convinced he wouldn’t get cast. “I was in my mid thirties and in the [best] shape of my life. I mean… I figured they’re going to hire somebody, some middle aged, paunchy, bald dude.”
But Daly got the gig, and a few days before filming Daly was asked to come in for a Ben Franklin costume fitting.
Becoming a Ben Franklin impersonator
As Daly was getting his cheap wig fitted and hair glued down, he couldn’t shake the feeling that everyone on the show was about to realize he wasn’t right for the part.
“I thought the entire time that I was at this fitting that I was about to get fired, because I thought, like, they’re going to put together a look for me as Ben Franklin and then parade me up to all the producers — to Mindy Kaling and all the executive producers, which I was told ahead of time was what was going to happen — and that somebody was going to look at me and say, ‘No. Go get the middle aged, paunchy bald guy. Like, this is not working.”
“The other thing I remember about the costume — yes, it was elaborate, but to make me look chubby they gave me up like a real costume pillow from the costume department,” Daly continued. “And I don’t remember if it was right next to my skin or if I had an undershirt in between. It doesn’t matter. The point is that if you wear a pillow underneath several layers for like twelve hours, you’re going to get a rash on your stomach if you don’t use like a baby powder or something like that, which it never occurred to me to use.”
“So that is one of my enduring memories of that shoot, having a very itchy rash that whole week, sweating as I was underneath that fat pillow,” Daly said.
Daly’s favorite scenes
Though Daly cherished his time on the show, a few key scenes stuck out as favorites for him to film. The first was the exchange between Ben Franklin and Michael where Michael says he was one of the “sexiest presidents ever.” (Spoiler alert: Ben Franklin was never president.)
“That makes me laugh a great deal and is one of my treasured memories from that shoot, and one of my favorite moments from the episode, along with, of course, the moment when — after all this refusal to drop character — Ben Franklin (or as we come to know him, Gordon,) does finally drop character to flirt with Pam,” Daly said.
Daly also admitted that he brushed up on his knowledge of Ben Franklin for this role, and said that his Wikipedia page deep dive came in handy during an improvised scene with Rainn Wilson.
“There were a bunch of scripted lines in that scene where Rainn Wilson is challenging this Ben Franklin impersonator — trying to trip him up, to find the lapse in his knowledge about Ben Franklin. And so he’s just throwing all these questions out, but one that he improvised was, ‘Are you nearsighted or farsighted?’ That was not in the script,” Daly said.
“It was never discussed beforehand that he was going to say that, he just threw that out in the middle of a take. And I, because I had just read the Wikipedia page about Ben Franklin, knew that Ben Franklin invented the bifocals and he invented the bifocals because he needed them, because his distance sight was challenged, as was his reading sight,” he said. “And so I was able to say, without having to think about it or hesitate, ‘Both. That’s why I invented the bifocal.'”
Can Andy Daly tie a knot in a cherry stem with his tongue?
Perhaps the most burning question on this podcast episode was from fans dying to know if Daly really tied that cherry stem in a knot.
“Absolutely not. That is not something I’ve even ever tried to do. That’s crazy,” Daly said. “I am struggling to remember how we shot it… But the short answer to your question is no. I did not really tie that cherry stem with my tongue. I can’t imagine how one does that or why one would take the time and effort to learn how.”
Be sure to listen to the full podcast episode for more behind-the-scenes stories, Ben Franklin facts, and filming insights from Andy Daly.