the office stare machine
the office time machine


1,312 references from 189 episodes covering over 6000 years of history.

This project was created to show how culture enriches comedy. The Office is relatable and funny because it borrows so much from culture, and people get the references. Culture is society’s collected knowledge, art, and customs. It’s what surrounds us and unites us, and it allows us to collectively laugh at a joke in The Office about Ben Franklin or M. Night Shyamalan. Culture, simply put, is the seasoning in a meal.

Copyright - the system created hundreds of years ago to incentivize creators to create cool stuff - falls flat in world where many creators:

This Time Machine is intended to show how much we rely on culture. So let artists bang it out without fear of being sued. (...that’s what she said)


Who is behind this?

My name is Joe Sabia and I created this project to advocate for copyright reform and highlight the importance of fair use in protecting creators and their art. To prove culture is not only everywhere, but that certain references to films, songs, and works of art are critical for our collective understanding of comedy and to the importance of relating to content, I found every cultural, real-life reference from every episode of The Office.

What was your process?

It's basically the Burj Khalifa of supercuts maybe.

How long did this take?

Working by myself, a year and a half.

Did you release this intentionally on the anniversary of The Office premiere?

Actually, that was a coincidence. Not kidding.

Why are view counts on each video so low?

We've had close to a million people use this machine as of April 2014, so we think autoplay + video culling from your searches are not counting as view counts on the individual players.

Who built the time machine?

My badass inventor/roboticist/programmer friend Aaron Rasmussen. (Also, special thanks to Matt Werner for providing an editorial eye.)

Can I help make this experience even better?

There's probably a ton of mistakes in here. So, let's collaborate in this document and I'll get around to fixing.

click on the screenshot below to work together!

the office time machine collaborative document

Also, here’s a video of all the references I couldn’t get:


If you can identify any of these, enter them in the google doc!

What can I do to help learn more about fair use and copyright reform?

Sign up for And check out these sites:

How do I find out when you guys do a new machine or thing?

Disclaimer: This has absolutely no affiliation with NBC Universal or the above mentioned organizations for the reform of copyright.