It’s been five long years since we last saw the paper-pushers of Dunder Mifflin on TV’s The Office, but you’ll get a chance to reunite with one of the show’s greatest assets in Pittsburgh this week. Creed Bratton, everyone’s favorite head of quality assurance (or “quabbity assuance,” as Bratton once referred to it), brings an evening of comedy and music to the Rex Theatre.
Though his character — also named Creed Bratton — is best known for his eccentricity, low-level criminality and weird charm, Bratton in real life is an accomplished and experienced musician. He grew up playing the trumpet and guitar, and in the 1960s, played guitar and sang in the folk-rock band The Grass Roots. The group toured extensively and netted a few hits, including “Midnight Confessions.”
Bratton left the band for a solo career in 1969, but when that didn’t pan out, he began studying acting. In the 1980s, he landed small roles in Heart Like A Wheel and Mask, and took odd jobs behind the scenes as a prop man, boom operator and grip.
The road to his role on The Office began when he met director Ken Kwapis, who, it turned out, was a big Grass Roots fan. Kwapis was developing the American version of The Office, (which originated in the U.K.), and though it was already cast, Bratton managed to get on as an extra. Bratton wrote and shot an unsolicited talking-head interview for Creed, which impressed the showrunners so much that they brought him on for a bigger role.
Riffing on his own life experiences, The Office’s Bratton was a burnt-out former hippie with a mysterious, meandering past (like Forrest Gump with acid flashbacks). He’d been in cults, as both a leader and a follower. He spoke Mandarin. He commuted to Scranton, Pa., from Toronto. In a show that was sometimes weighed down by unnecessary sentimentality, Bratton was a reliable source of anarchic, charismatic fun.
When CP asked Bratton if there was anything he wished he’d done differently over the course of the show’s run, he responded, “Nothing. Then I wouldn’t end up where I am today.”