Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky

10 Comics to Watch

They met seven years ago while making copies for Harold Ramis (it’s a long story). A friendship ensued, then cohabitation — and now Eisenberg and Stupnitsky find themselves with full-time jobs on the writing staff of what’s arguably TV’s coolest comedy, “The Office.”

The two have also become feature players, writing “Winter Break” (MTV/Par) and “42-Year-Old Intern” (Montecito/DreamWorks). In addition, they teamed up with old boss Ramis to pen “Year One,” with Ramis set to direct, Judd Apatow producing and Owen Wilson starring.

Stupnitsky says the pair’s writing has “elements of codependency and pettiness in it, and elements of ‘I love you, man.’ I don’t want to say it’s ‘loser comedy’ … but it’s been said.”

Eisenberg, however, argues that he and Stupnitsky are more versatile. “We don’t want to be painted in the loser comedy corner,” he says. “We can do winner comedy, too. And period comedy.”

Not long ago, the scribes found themselves hanging out at Wilson’s house for three hours discussing their collaboration on “Year One.” The next day, they heard the “You, Me and Dupree” star — and seven women — were hanging out at a nearby watering hole.

“We figured we’d go, Owen would see us and he’d say, ‘Let’s party!’ ” Stupnitsky says. But Wilson didn’t notice them. Instead, Stupnitsky waited until Wilson got up before approaching him.

“We talked about how cool Harold is, and then I followed him into the bathroom,” he says. “But I had just been to the bathroom. So I end up standing next to him, I unzip — and I’m paralyzed. I’m waiting there while he’s obviously going to the bathroom.”

Eisenberg’s also had bad luck with bathrooms: An ill-timed trip to the loo caused him to miss being onstage when “The Office” won a WGA award. “It felt like something that would happen to me,” he says.

Buzz: In addition to their feature sales, Eisenberg and Stupnitsky have written some of the most talked-about episodes of “The Office” this season, including Dwight’s return to Dunder-Mifflin and the seg in which the workers hit the road as traveling salesmen.

References: “They’re both very good looking,” says “Office” manager Greg Daniels. “They’re kind of like eye candy. It causes the other people on the staff to pitch harder because it’s so exciting to have them in the room.”

Fallback plan: “I’d probably go back to being an ice cream truck driver,” Stupnitsky says.

“I’d like to be a telemarketer,” Eisenberg notes. “I’m a people person.”

Click here to see the other comics on the 10 to watch list.

Click here for the Top Ten Comics to Watch photo gallery

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