The Office writer-producer Mike Schur, who also played beet farmer Dwight's (Rainn Wilson) cousin Moses 'Mose' Schrute on the fan-favorite NBC comedy, is growing out Mose's neckbeard to fundraise for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank during the coronavirus pandemic. The effort, which has already exceeded its original $150,000 goal with more than $173,000 raised since March 19, was organized by Schur, who is participating in his own "ritualized humiliation" by agreeing to perform certain tasks for every milestone reached: in addition to growing out his "nightmare" beard, Schur will eat a fruit pie — which he hates — while wearing the jersey of a rival baseball team.
"It's one of my favorite charities, I give them money every year, and then demand obviously soared through the roof," Schur explained to CNN. "So I had first said I'll match up to $50,000, and then about 30 seconds after I posted the fundraiser, we had like $10,000. And I sort of in an excited fit of optimism said, 'If get to $50,000 by tonight, I'll shave my head.' It's important to note how little I thought that through. It was a completely impulsive thing."
But when Schur's friends and Twitter followers got excited by the idea, the fundraiser hit Schur's first $50,000 goal in an hour.
"Then it became, 'Well, if my ritualized humiliation raises more money for charity, who am I to judge?' So I just started growing out things that I thought would be humiliating and would help raise money," Schur said. "For example, I'm a Red Sox fan, and I said if we get to [$100,00] I'll wear a Derek Jeter jersey, which is my personal nightmare. And then I also hate fruit pie and I said I'll eat a fruit pie, and I just kept going, and it got up to $150,000 or something like that. So it was wonderful."
The final step was bringing back a piece of "ghoulish beet-farming weirdo" Mose, who appeared in all but two of the show's nine seasons.
"A bunch of people wrote in and said, 'Instead of shaving your head, would you consider regrowing the Mose beard?' So again, not thinking any of this through, I put up that as a poll, 'Would you rather I shave my head or grow the neckbeard?' The neckbeard won, so now I'm five weeks into this nightmare," Schur said with a laugh. "Part of the reason I played Mose on the show because this is my natural beard growth, it's weird and ghoulish. Eventually when I actually make the video wearing the Derek Jeter jersey, eating a fruit pie, which I hate, I will shave the mustache and just have that. That's where we're headed."
Schur, who co-created Parks and Recreation, co-wrote the remotely filmed Parks and Recreation Reunion Special that aired on NBC Thursday, raising $3 million for Feeding America. All episodes of The Office are currently streaming on Netflix.