• Seth Van Camp

Michael Scott: A Man of Many Faces (12 Minute Read)

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

Michael Scott is a man of many faces. Whether he’s pretending to fart popcorn as “Oroville Tootenbacher” or offending Dundee attendees as “Ping”, Scott’s renditions span the chasm that is unemphatic. He is a man who would much rather communicate the lessons he attempts to teach through character than conversation. Like his counterpart David Brent, he believes that “comedy is a place where the mind goes to tickle itself,” so he binds his love for humour with his managerial skills, if you can call them that. The result is a ranked top five list of characters Michael has created throughout his time at Dunder Mifflin.

Like any good statistician, I knew that I needed to create a set of criteria in order to properly and fairly evaluate these characters. These set of criteria each carry a score which cumulatively add together to build their character total. I don't exactly know what this character total means. Does it mean the character is a good person? Does it mean they were the funniest? I honestly don't know, I'm just an idiot making a list of Michael Scott characters. But if I had to guess, I would think it means that the character was well-built, comical, ridiculous, and offensive. So whatever those traits are together, is likely what it means. If you think of that word, give me a shout. The following is what I call, The Michael Scott Character Index:

1. Who they are (descriptor): This does not contribute to the overall score of the character, though it provides necessary context into who the character was and what they were like during their existence.

2. Catch Phrase (/3): Each characters catch-phrase represents their soul and essence. The more ridiculous and purpose-driven, the better. A total of 3 points is achievable here.

3. The Lesson/Purpose (/5): Herein lies the motivation behind why Michael created the character. The lesson and/or purpose of their inception is an important component of their mystery and deserves to contribute to their character total in a significant way. Did Michael create them to uplift his self-esteem? Or did he create them to serve a higher purpose? Very important considerations to make. A total of 5 points is achievable here.

4. Did it work? (/5): Was the lesson learned or was his purposed served? Did he accomplish what he set out to do and was it effective? A total of 5 points is achievable here.

5. Character Creativity (costume, voice, things said, actions, etc) (/5): Did Michael cop out or did he go to extreme lengths to pull this character off? Was his take unique and what were his assumptions grounded in? Did he work for it or was he apathetic? A total of 5 points is achievable here.

6. Level of Offensiveness (/2): Although this is quite subjective, I feel as though Michael's characters are generally pretty offensive, so I likely won't have to worry about scoring these under much scrutiny. A total of 2 points is achievable here.

BONUS: If applicable, how many times does Jim make a joke or look at the camera? (max of 3 points) - Who would I be if I didn't include a staple of the show in this scoring system?

That leaves us with a possible raw score of 20 with a potential score of 23 after bonuses. Let the games begin.

5. Ping

Who they are (descriptor): Ping is Michael’s impression of a stereotypical Asian man. Brandishing a false set of massive teeth and a pair of glasses made to look his eyes like slits, Ping is arguably Michael’s most offensive weapon in his arsenal of characters. The Asian woman behind Michael who listened to his impression was extremely offended and she couldn’t even see his face. Ping is the living embodiment of a cringe face. His existence on the Office was written in espresso, not coffee. His legacy lives on, though short lived, only appearing on one episode.

Catch Phrase (2/3): “Me so horny!”

The lesson/purpose (3/5): The purpose here was purely to make people laugh and to be liked. There really was no other reason.

Did it work? (1/5): Michael, once again, attempted to charm the snake that is Dunder Mifflin Scranton (and the residents of Chili’s), one of the most apathetic snakes in the world, and ended up getting bitten. It’s this weird paradox in that watching Michael do the impression is funny because it's hilarious to watch a person think it’s acceptable to do that in front of a large group of people, but the impression itself is just anti-funny. Even in 2005 that wasn’t funny.

Character Creativity (costume, voice, things said, actions, etc) (3/5): I mean, as awful as it was, give the man some credit. Where would you even get those glasses? Did he make them himself? Michael went for it, as he always does, and didn’t hold back.

Level of Offensiveness (2/2): He yells “me so horny!” into a phone with a very questionable Asian accent. So that's probably enough for full points.

BONUS: If applicable, how many times does Jim make a joke or look at the camera? (max of 3 points) (0/3): At least with other characters, Jim could at least entertain Michael’s madness. With Ping, its just so ridiculous he doesn't even get any attention.

Total Character Score: 11/20

4. Date Mike

Who they are (descriptor): Oscar invites the whole office and warehouse to a bar after work to disguise the fact that he wants to spend time with the new hot warehouse guy, Matt. Pam decides to invite her friend, Julie to meet Michael as she has a hunch that they will hit things off (because she laughs at everything). To everyone’s surprise, including Jim’s, things are actually going very well. Michael is completely unaware that he’s even on a date and is subconsciously acting quite normal. As soon as Jim informs Michael that things are going well, his Id takes over. He makes a b-line to the car to retrieve his costume and Date Mike makes an appearance. He sheds his tie for a backwards Kangol hat and his normal demeanor for a shot of five hour energy. Date Mike is here to break hearts and have fun in the process. He is a showman. He ties cherry stems in knots with his tongue. He has an “unfair advantage from watching all of those dating reality shows like a hawk.” He also scares away his date.

Catch Phrase (3/3): “Hi, I’m Date Mike. It’s nice to meet me. How do you like your eggs in the morning?” *Creepy wink*

The lesson/purpose (4/5): To impress a date that he didn’t even know he was on at all costs. I dig it. Man's got game.

Did it work? (3/5): Not even close. But miraculously, Date Mike somehow managed to score another date with the bar manager who he ultimately ended up having an affair with. So… yes? 1 out of 2 ain't bad.

Character Creativity (costume, voice, things said, actions, etc) (4.5/5): Date Mike is the middle-aged equivalent of a fucc-boi. He is there for a hit and run. He’s willing to do anything, including twirling a pool cue like a cheerleader, air guitaring on top of a pool table, and popping his collar arguably too open. He really goes for it. And in going for it, achieves the exact opposite of what he was trying to do. There is a small lack of creativity in his look, but carrying around that Kangol hat everywhere he goes deserves some kudos.

Level of Offensiveness (0.5/2): Date Mike is surprisingly not very offensive. He’s definitely an asshole, but not very offensive. If anything, he’s just extremely embarrassing.

BONUS: How many times does Jim make a joke or look at the camera? (max of 3 points) (0/3): I really thought this would be a goldmine for points, but Jim is just too mortified to make any jokes at this point.

Total Character Score: 15/20

3. Michael Scarn

Who they are (descriptor): Michael Scarn is a character in Michael Scott’s fabled film “Threat Level Midnight” that took him 3 years to write, 1 year to shoot, 4 years to reshoot, and 2 years of editing to complete. Once being the best secret agent in the business and having an affinity for saving sports All-Star games, Scarn is now a retired drunk, after suffering the loss of his wife, Catherine Zeta-Scarn, at the hands of Goldenface. It's only when the president calls on him for a secret mission does he come out of retirement to seek revenge on Goldenface.

Catch Phrase (2/3): “Cleanup on aisle 5”

The lesson/purpose (3/5): Scott created Scarn out of his love for film and the fine arts, but was likely driven by his life-defining goal: for people to like and respect him.

Did it work? (4/5): Although he lacks any formal education or training, Scott’s passion and persistence led him to develop a truly entertaining story. Not because it was well made or anything, but because it was so bad that it was good.

Character Creativity (costume, voice, things said, actions, etc) (5/5): Scarn is a man of many talents. A highly ranked hockey player, a world class secret agent, a gentleman, and above all, a man of the people. Not much of a close range marksman, though. The amount of costumes and preparation into this character forces me to give him full marks.

Level of Offensiveness (1/2): Although Scarn has mostly good intentions, the fact that he murdered Oscar was pretty questionable, but it was also one of the funniest parts of the episode.

BONUS: How many times does Jim make a joke or look at the camera? (max of 3 points) (1/3): I will give Scarn one point for how Jim looks at the camera after his character, Goldenface, says the line “I’m going to kill Scarn, and then I’m going to dig up his dead wife and hump her real good.” Definitely worth a point.

Total Character Score: 16/20

2. Prison Mike

Who they are (descriptor): Prison Mike has seen it all. His rap sheet consists of theft, robbery, and kidnapping the president’s son and holding him for ransom. He’s eaten nothing but gruel sandwiches and hair for years and has had his soul sucked out by dementors. He’s a man worn down by the system and he's using his last legs to scare everyone straight.

Catch Phrase (1.5/3): “I’M HERE TO SCARE YOU STRAIGHT!”

The lesson/purpose (4.5/5): After the Stamford branch merges with Scranton, Michael found out that one of the new employees has been to prison before. Martin begins to share his prison stories which gathers him a lot of attention. Others around the office start to say that “prison sounds better than here.” Michael, being extremely jealous of Martin’s attention and insulted by the surrounding rumours, creates Prison Mike to show the office what prison is really like and that they shouldn’t be glorifying it. Surprisingly noble cause, though a little self-conceited.

Did it work? (1.5/5): Nope. No matter how loud he screams that he’s here to scare you straight, it didn’t.

Character Creativity (costume, voice, things said, actions, etc) (4/5): A purple bandanna and strong New Jersey accent seem to be all that's needed to scare the office straight. This iconic look exists in memes to this day. This in combination with an extensive history into Prison Mike’s background, although confusing, make for some great character development.

Level of Offensiveness (2/2): He says “Do you really expect me not to push you against a wall, biatch?” and “Don’t drop the soap” multiple times. It could be considered quite offensive.

BONUS: How many times does Jim make a joke or look at the camera? (max of 3 points) (3/3): Jim has an absolute field day on this one. Just watch.

Total Character Score: 16.5/20

1. Michael Klump

Who is he? (descriptor): At the break of the fifth season, Dunder Mifflin Scranton began competing in a corporate initiative to lose weight. They took it fairly seriously. Kelly began to look like a dying raccoon. Dwight dropped off Phyllis in a bad neighbourhood over a kilometre away to force her to walk back and lose weight in the process. But once corporate caught on to the extreme measures being taken to win the inter-branch competition, they sent out a memo reinforcing the strengths of ‘healthy’ dieting and body positivity. Meet Michael Klump. He’s a full-bodied, gravelly voiced man with a lack of understanding for grammar, who appears as a surprise guest speaker in a body celebration meeting hosted by Holly Flax.

Catchphrase (3/3): “I say, I say, I say, I sit on you!” - Beautiful. Just beautiful.

The Lesson/Purpose (4/5): He was born out of a leftover sumo suit that Michael was glad he ‘bought instead of rented’ and a need. And that need was for Dundler Mifflin Scranton to understand that “fat people are not monsters” and that like Dunder Mifflin’s building, he is unattractive on the outside, but a “handsome, sexy, man” on the inside. Despite his horrible executions, this character actually had fairly pure intentions.

Did it Work? (2/5): After pasting images of people he deems beautiful like himself, including a picture of Jabba the Hut and a pig, Klump’s attempts are met with immediate resistance. Oscar and others question the integrity of a character already used to disparage fat people in the past. Although, towards the end of the meeting, Mr. Klump does provide a little bit of self awareness and empowerment to Kelly, albeit hugging her breasts while doing it.

Character Creativity (voice, things said, actions, etc) (4/5): This has to be one of Michael’s more elaborate costumes. A partially inflated sumo suit, a Ryan-inspired goatee and a voice that inspired many bloopers come together to create something magical. He stumbles around binging, banging, and bopping into anything in his path and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Level of Offensiveness (1.5/2): Dunder Mifflin, Scranton’s office is filled with 4 morbidly obese people. Yeah, its pretty offensive.

BONUS: How many times does Jim make a joke or look at the camera? (max of 3 points) (3/3): Jim looks at the camera four different times, so max points here.

Total Character Score: 17.5/20