Everybody loves Kevin from “The Office,” but actor Brian Baumgartner has spent 2020 making sure families have more than just sitcom reruns to watch during quarantine.
Baumgartner has partnered with family entertainment center Main Event and Endeavor’s 160over90 to help launch their new virtual experiences, featuring a video series on how to host social, family, and corporate events through the platform.
In addition to the new Main Event videos, Baumgartner has also been hosting renowned podcast, “An Oral History of The Office,” with special guests like former costar Steve Carrell and Office superfan Billie Eilish.
Below, Baumgartner discusses working with Main Event during quarantine, what makes “An Oral History” stand out from other show podcasts, and looking ahead to 2021.
The Knockturnal: How did the partnership with Main Event come to be, and how do you believe the app fits into the quarantine entertainment landscape?
Brian Baumgartner: The thing that most interested me about working with Main Event was that I believe in what they’re doing is actually a great idea. They are the first family entertainment center that has actually gone virtual, and it’s such an amazing idea because we can’t get together in a 50,000 square-foot space right now, but we can still have fun and play games at home. I like to find things that I believe in and that I think are a good idea for myself, or for other people to do, so that’s why I was excited to partner with Main Event.
The thing that I have found through the pandemic is that I’ve reconnected with a lot of people from my past that I don’t spend enough time with. I have a group of friends from high school – we try to talk, we try to keep up, we text occasionally. Well, we’ve done the Zoom cocktail party things, I think because we’re stuck at home and we’re not out and about all doing different things; that’s been really nice. The opportunity to use Virtual Experience by Main Event and invite these guys to maybe play some games online and have a virtual experience with them…I’m looking forward for this to launch because I really will use it, especially with old friends that I don’t normally get to see in-person or wouldn’t even have the opportunity to go to a place like this in-person.
The Knockturnal: How have you and your family been personally coping with the pandemic? Where are you currently based?
Brian Baumgartner: I’m in San Diego. It’s been challenging, I will be honest. I have not done very much at all. It’s been too much time with myself, I think. And I’ve become a little bit of a cliché. I got a puppy. That seems to be the thing to do. It’s like, ‘Oh it’s a global pandemic, get a puppy.’ The puppy is here right now and actually being very quiet, so we’re in good shape today.
The Knockturnal: The Office turned 15 this year. What makes your podcast, “An Oral History of The Office,” stand out from other alum podcasts?
Brian Baumgartner: I have been lucky during the pandemic that I decided to get into some other forms of entertainment. It was just myself going back and talking to all my old friends about the show and us telling the story of The Office and how we struggled mightily our first two years. It’s about really giving people, especially who have come to the show late on Netflix, a perspective about what was happening or maybe how this show changed over time. And then really looking at how the show has become this cultural phenomenon now and me wondering, ‘why that is?’ So I went back to Scranton and talked to everybody from the show. It was a lot of fun and I’m tremendously proud of that.
The Knockturnal: You had five projects ranging from TV to movies released in 2020. What do you typically look for in roles?
Brian Baumgartner: What’s most exciting to me about the work that I do is creating characters. I didn’t begin to do this work to be famous, or to be known, or to be a celebrity, for me it’s really about the work.
The Knockturnal: What’s next for you looking ahead to 2021?
Brian Baumgartner: Last week I just had a new show premiere on Netflix – an animated show, my first animated show for kids – called Trash Truck. It is gorgeous and beautiful and sweet, and something I think everybody can enjoy. I play a bear, which is maybe my spirit animal – Walter the bear – I’m tremendously proud of that.