"Scott's Tots" includes a scene that might just rank atop The Office's long list and rich history of uncomfortable yet hilarious moments. The episode is obviously still fresh on my mind, but I'm nevertheless hard-pressed to even name a close second. If the scene in question weren't so damn funny, it might have actually been too excruciatingly painful to watch. But that's The Office for you. When it aims for this type of awkward comedy, sometimes it falls flat, but often it nails it right on the head.
As we find out early in the episode, in one of his stupidest blunders ever, Michael once promised a classroom full of under-privileged third graders that he'd pay for each of their college educations if they graduated high school. That was ten years ago, and the kids are now fully grown and ready for their free schooling. Their high school throws one last thank you celebration for Michael, who runs out of excuses to postpone and is forced to come clean by Pam. As Michael gets ready to attend the ceremony with Erin, you can feel the disaster looming like a train wreck waiting to happen. Stanley is actually quite pleased by the situation, and punctuates the foreboding with his uncontrollable laughter.
Anyone familiar with this show and the character knows exactly why he would make such a ridiculous promise. Michael has long been driven by a desire to celebrate himself while helping others, and in his mind he had no reason to believe he wouldn't have the money to pay for so many college educations ten years down the road (as we learn, he thought he'd be a millionaire by thirty. When that didn't happen, he figured it would happen at the age of forty. As it turned out, he had less money at forty than he did at thirty).
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