One of the strangest manifestations of consumer culture is the “unboxing video.” Desperate to feel the second-hand joy of opening a newly purchased item, viewers pull up clips of other people unwrapping new phones, video game consoles, or toys. This, we’d argue, is a disconcerting trend that speaks to materialism’s upsetting psychological effects. Its popularity is frightening.
That is, unless the format is repurposed as a way to get Steve Carell to jump out of a box, terrifying former Office co-star, Jenna Fischer.
Fischer appeared on Busy Tonight and was given early birthday presents from other members of the comedy series’ cast. It’s a normal, conversation-prompting bit for the first while. Fischer immediately knows which actor gave her which present: a banjo from Ed Helms gets her reminiscing on Creed Bratton and Helms playing music on filming breaks; raisin crisps from Ellie Kemper bring back memories of the two eating boxes of them on set.
Finally, host Busy Philipps leads Fischer over to a giant box that opens to reveal Steve Carell. Fischer shrieks in a mix of horror and surprised delight, just like anyone would do if given a confined adult man as a birthday present.
After everyone settles down a bit, Fischer and Carell sit with Philipps to talk about all the expected stuff—Fischer’s current show, Splitting Up Together, the possibility of an Office reunion series—but, most importantly, to discuss a joke that required Carell sitting silently in a large cardboard box “for quite some time.”
“I wasn’t expecting a human being to be in a box,” Fischer says. “And then, on top of that, I was not expecting that human being to be Steve.”
With one simple talk show prank, Philipps and Carell have done us all a great service. Unboxing videos, appalling as they may be, are a little less evil now that we can expect not just consumer goods to be inside, but possibly a friendly celebrity, yearning to be let free.
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