Running Dancakes is a real clusterheck of a job. We’re a small company trying to do a lot of things, and as most small business owners know that means we’re all wearing as many hats as possible to help us move forward and continue growing (social media, web content, filming/editing videos, etc, we do it all in house). It’s a good problem to have, but it can be exhausting to have so much to do beyond our job title… pancake art(ist). Sometimes we’ll be on the road for weeks on end, flying anywhere from 75-100 times a year on top of the events that we’re able to drive to.
What keeps us sane and happy to run our little business, though, is the plethora of fun ways we get to be creative. I usually get to choose what pancakes I’ll be making for videos, which can can be edited in fun and entertaining ways (Thank you, Hank), and traveling with good friends can be an absolute and unmatched blast. But with the workload, creativity and fun can be forgotten at times, with us simply getting everything done as fast as possible to get to the dozen other tasks we have to do. Sometime last year, though, I decided to make a video that was anything but that, as a paradoxical way to destress and reinvigorate myself.
A pancake art video, but for a show that I adore, NBC’s The Office, with pancakes of all the characters. In a video so long, I decided it would be appropriate and fun to pepper it with acting bits, costumes, and over-the-top meta humor. This would be my special video, where I got a chance to shine and show my personality… where I’d do anything but simply phone it in. And so I got to it.
I began the arduous task of making sixteen faces, a startling jump from the fact that I had only made a mere four portraits for videos before. I worked hard to relieve my fear of portraiture, establishing a new style for myself as I went. Over the course of months, I would come in and knock out what I could, each taking me as long as an hour or more.
After all the pancakes were finally, finally completed (over the course of months; as always, we remained very, very busy with travel), Hank– who was an enormous help in making this video great– and I shot some of the most absurd footage I’d ever taken part of. I felt like a kid again, eagerly making home movies for school projects with my friends, except now, it was for my job, a blessed reality that I reminded myself of often. I had eagerly gone to Goodwill on my way to work a few times, looking for suits, ties, and pants that would make me resemble the characters to a tee. I had even destroyed an old pair of sunglasses I had to replicate Dwight’s frames. I must emphasize that handing over a company credit card in a costume shop to purchase several bald caps was a pivotal moment in making me realize how serious this was getting.
We filmed me, dressed in drag as many of the male characters, doing such things as slipping a pancake into my suit jacket, putting a still VERY warm and heavy pancake on my face, with two eye holes and a mouth poked out as to replicate a mask, and several dozen takes of me doing Office-style glances at the camera. The piéce de rèsistance, however, is when I got dressed up as the character Kevin, bald cap and all, and recreated the very iconic “spilled chili scene.” It required me to carry in a large vat of batter in oven mitts, before dropping it upside down onto the floor. This was then followed up by me rolling around in the batter in a desperate attempt to scoop the spilled liquid back into the bucket, using whatever I could find around the studio to dump it back in. We had rehearsed it over and over beforehand to make sure it was as faithful and unbroken as possible in one take, and the final result was as chaotic and horrible to clean up afterwards as it was beautifully-executed and wonderful.
And so after Hank and I sat for six hours and edited the video together (which was a blast! I’ve always really enjoyed editing home movies), the video went up, and to my delight, people LOVED it. Admittedly, I was nervous for the comments that it might garner: that it wasn’t funny, that it was cringey and lame, that the portraits weren’t good enough (most of the portraits were absolutely spot-on, but there were a few I think that were at least a little off), but to my suprise, we received next to zero of those comments. Hundreds of responses from people saying that it was their favorite video on the internet, or that it made them laugh out loud… there were pages resharing it, only to garner more positive feedback… I was ecstatic. It was such a victory, after dozens upon dozens of hours that had gone into making this silly two-minute video that no one had asked for, and then being able to smile over our work and laugh gratefully for the absurd pleasure that is this job. I guess sometimes, it just takes a little roll in spilled pancake batter while being dressed as a large bald man in a suit to remember how good you have it… or perhaps, it was the elated remarks of total strangers saying that seeing me do so was the best part of their week.