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Rainn Wilson recalls an early scene in ‘The Office’ that’s so funny the cast fully broke

Anyone who’s watched The Office knows that it’s funny as hell — so funny that sometimes the actors couldn’t even make it through a scene without breaking character to laugh.

One of those unbearably comical scenes took place in the third episode of the series, titled “Health Care,” where viewers find Dunder Mifflin Scranton in utter chaos after Michael asks Dwight to choose a health care plan with fewer benefits for his fellow employees.

On the latest episode of the Office Ladies podcast, Jenna Fisher and Angela Kinsey dish on all things “Health Care” and welcome special guest, Rainn Wilson (Dwight K. Schrute,) who reveals three words that the cast couldn’t stop laughing over while filming: “Hot dog fingers.”

In “Health Care,” which first aired on April 5, 2005, employees become outraged after learning that Dwight selected an abysmal Health Care plan for the office. Dwight responds to complaints by asking his co-workers to anonymously submit any medical conditions they’d like covered in a plan for him to review. That’s when things really go off the rails. 

To troll Dwight, employees like Jim and Pam submit a bunch of fake illnesses — including “hot dog fingers” — which Dwight then reads aloud to the room. But it turns out that “hot dog fingers” was improvised, and when the cast heard Wilson say it they fully lost their composure.

“I remember saying hot dog fingers,” Wilson told Fischer and Kinsey. “They left it in the edit, you guys breaking, you guys cracking over these diseases and it’s truly hysterical.”

Fischer recalled that some of the fake diseases mentioned in the episode were scripted, but for this scene the writers handed Wilson a piece of paper with improvised diseases that none of the other cast members knew Dwight would say.

“None of us knew you were going to say hot dog fingers. It was a complete and utter surprise. That was not in the script,” she said.

“There were some very funny ones that were scripted,” such as “nanorobot micro-invasion or whatever that one was,” Wilson added. The fake disorder he was referring to was actually called “government-created killer nanorobot infection,” and Leslie David Baker (Stanley Hudson) found it so funny that he also visibly burst out laughing in the scene.

“They kept feeding me other ones. It was very hard for me to keep a straight face. I broke all the time,” Wilson said. “You know you get to a certain point in laughing where you just cross a line? Where you’ve just been tickled too much and you just can’t bring it back? That happened maybe every two to three episodes for me and it absolutely happened in this one.”

It turns out, the famous “hot dog fingers” submission came from Wilson’s friend, Kevin, who was visiting the set that day. “He was the one who actually threw out hot dog fingers. That’s his claim to fame,” Wilson said.

During the 53-minute Office Ladies episode Wilson also discusses other memorable Dwight quotes like, “I can raise and lower my cholesterol at will,” and “I thought your vagina was removed during your hysterectomy.” And as always, Fischer and Kinsey reveal a plethora of behind-the-scenes tidbits from filming.

You can stream episodes of The Office on Netflix and follow along with the podcast every week on Earwolf, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher.