By Jocelyn Visnov, Web Editor/Production Editor
Brian Baumgartner brought a piece of Scranton to the Bronx as he joined the Jasper community on Saturday, Oct. 15 for Family Weekend. Best known for his iconic portrayal of Kevin Malone on “The Office,” Baumgartner joined fans of the show on the quad for a conversation and Q&A led by executive director of Student Engagement, John Bennett.
Bennet opened with a discussion about family where Baumgartner explained he is still in touch with cast members from The Office in various degrees, mentioning travel plans with actor Angela Kinsey and an ongoing fantasy football league with actors Rainn Wilson and John Krasinski.
In addition to his acting career, Baumgartner is the author of “Welcome to Dunder Mifflin; An Oral History of The Office” which was released in November 2021 and later gained accolades as a New York Times Bestseller.
More recently, Baumgartner published a book of chili recipes with the title “Seriously Good Chili Cookbook.” In the interview with Bennett, Baumgartner explains that the concept for the book stems from the infamous scene from The Office where Kevin makes a pot of chili and promptly spills it on the floors of Dunder Mifflin.
“I just decided to make some chili, took a picture, posted it online,” he said. “And people just lost their ever-loving minds. That just went crazy. And so I was like, ‘Okay,’ and I started getting into it, I started making it more and more myself.”
The Quad spoke with Baumgartner following the event, where he explained coming to MC is one of several stops on his ventures to promote his cookbook.
“I went back to Scranton, and went to Philly and New York,” he said. “I really enjoy going to colleges because, you know, it’s an audience that is really into the show, and in some cases have seen it fairly recently, then there’s nostalgia for the people who watched it originally. But now one of the things that I love to hear is that it’s like one show that families can watch together, like with the parents and the kids.”
When asked if he ever grows tired of talking about the show, Baumgartner explained that even nine years after the show stopped filming, he’s still making discoveries about it.
“The last line of The Office is ‘There’s [a lot of] beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?’, and I think that the show is really a celebration of that. It’s a celebration of ordinary people occasionally doing things that they get recognized for, and I think that this is really a huge physical embodiment of that. It’s hopefully funny, but really, it’s he [character Kevin Malone] who says, ‘It’s probably the thing that I do best.’ He’s super proud of it, it fails. I think ultimately, it’s about trying. And that’s important.”
Among students in attendance at the event was Michael Riccardo, a freshman business major and longtime fan of The Office. “I thought it [the event] was fun all around.” Ricardo said. “It was cool to see a celebrity you like from a show. I’ve watched it [The Office] for years and my whole family loves it. I know they’re gonna love the photo that I sent them.”
Ricardo attended the event with Landon Schofield, a freshman education major.
“I just liked asking him [Baumgartner] questions and getting more behind the scenes stuff, just learning more information you wouldn’t get from just watching the show,” Schofield said.
Baumgartner concluded his brief interview with The Quad with a piece of advice for college students.
“I think that trying to get a well-rounded base and not being afraid of a variety of classes and experiences, I mean, I think that’s really what’s important,” he said.