The Joke that Cost The Office $60,000

Imagine if you told a joke at work that cost your office $60,000. You’d probably be packing your belongings into one of those cardboard boxes right? Well, that’s what writers of The Office (US Version) got told following the use of a classic Eddie Money song in a Season 3 episode.

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Covering a two-line joke told by Steve Carell’s character Michael Scott, the episode shows him with two tickets to take Carol on a couple’s trip to a Sandals resort. Detailing his plans, he sings the lyrics to the 1977 rock hit, Two Tickets To Paradise, and just like a taxi fare in the middle of traffic, the dollars quickly began to climb.

The behind-the-scenes tale was revealed by Season 3 writer Jen Celotta on the Office Ladies podcast alongside former co-stars and current co-hosts of the podcast, Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey. During the sound mix for the episode titled A Benihana Christmas Celotta, Celotta found out from producer Kent Zbornak that it had cost production $60,000.

The Office Joke

“I wrote a joke where Michael says, ‘I got two tickets to paradise.’ And he says, ‘Pack your bags we leave day after tomorrow.’ At the sound mix, I found out from Kent that was a $60,000 joke. I was like, ‘It’s a fine joke, but none of my jokes I’ve ever written has been $60,000 jokes.’ But I remember not so long after that we had some of our music budget pulled away from us, and I can’t help but think. I mean, I was sitting at the mix and had no idea that because we sang that song, the song had to be cleared, and that joke was $60,000.”

According to Backstage Magazine in 2006 Steve Carrel’s per-episode fee was set at $175,000 for season 3. With the program averaging 5.4 million viewers per episode, and a cost of $178,840 per 30-second commercial played alongside The Office, we reckon it was worth the royalty fee.

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