When we arrived at work this morning, we were greeted by a mound of yellow gelatin that was cold to the touch and sitting upon a black plastic food tray ringed with leafy green garnish like a church-picnic dessert gone horribly wrong. Lying atop the slimy heap was a DVD with a note made to look like an office memo: "From Aurora EDC," it said. "A-List Invite. Play DVD!" And was that a coffee mug stuck in the middle?
Sure was. When we finally excavated it from its chilly Jell-O tomb, the joke became clear. The writing on the mug read "World's Best Boss." It was a gag from the pilot episode of the TV show The Office, in which Jim puts Dwight's stapler in Jell-O. And awesomely enough, it was also the invitation to A-List, an annual business bash hosted by the Aurora Economic Development Council. This year's speaker is B.J. Novak, a comic best known for his role as temp Ryan Howard on -- you guessed it -- The Office.
"We thought, 'This is something that can get people to laugh a little bit,'" says Aurora EDC vice president Bryan Blakely. "Nothing gets people to laugh like a big Jell-O cake."
A-List has attracted some impressive speakers in the past, including Bill Clinton, James Carville and Andre Agassi. Each year, the EDC comes up with a playful invitation. When former CIA boss General Michael Hayden spoke in 2010, the council sent silver briefcases that played the theme to Mission: Impossible. This year, Blakely says, they chose a comedian to host because "people are so tired of politics." Novak is perfect, he says, because people are familiar with him but probably haven't seen his act.
Novak had nothing to do with the Jell-O invitations, though. Those were the Aurora EDC's idea, Blakely reports. To carry out their plan, the council enlisted the help of actual caterers who used industrial-strength Jell-O that wouldn't melt on people's desks. "A melted Jell-O cake is much less funny," Blakely says.
But it'd probably taste better. The gelatinous mound that arrived at Westword this morning tasted like flavorless goo. Blakely concurs: "It's edible, but I wouldn't recommend eating it," he says.
In all, the EDC distributed about a hundred Jell-O cakes -- mostly to businesses that bought tables for the event, as well as to invited media. Blakely says some people got the joke right away, while others still don't get it but sure do appreciate the novelty. "Everybody loves it," he says. "Some people like to smack it."
A-List will take place Thursday, October 11, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, whose address is officially in Denver but is darn close to Aurora.
The DVD that came with the Jell-O was equally hilarious, interspersing clips from the pilot episode of The Office with Office-style commentary from EDC staff. See a clip from the DVD that parodies The Office's opening montage below. Aurora is the new Scranton!
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