By Hillary Busis
Updated September 20, 2012 at 10:09 PM EDT
Credit: NBC

Even diehard fans can admit that season 8 wasn’t The Office at its finest. Regardless, the show still knows how to sling a punchline — especially if it’s delivered during the pre-credits cold open or by Ellie Kemper’s Erin Hannon. Those who stopped watching after Michael Scott made his exit missed out on a lot of great gags — which is a shame, especially if they plan to tune in again for the show’s last season.

So, before watching the sitcom’s final premiere tonight, catch up by reading this list of season 8’s funniest moments. Sure, none of them are quite up there with Threat Level Midnight‘s first appearance, but chances are they’ll still leave you satisfied and smiling. (That’s what she… well, you know.)

10. Dwight Schrute, Master Tactician

His list of things in the conference room that could be used as weapons, from episode 23: “Chair. Lamp. Plant. Table leg. Jim’s leg.”

9. Josh Groban as Walter Bernard Jr.

The singer played Andy’s perfect younger brother with aplomb. (Fun fact: Andy was originally named Walter Jr. But when the younger Bernard was born, their parents decided Number Two would be a better Walter Jr. and renamed their first son Andrew. Ouch.) He’s got the voice of an angel, plus crack comic timing. Can someone give Groban his own show already?

8. Murder at the Alcohol Club

Episode 15 began with an energetic Jim convincing Dwight that he’s been framed for murder. Maybe the funniest thing here was that this was far from Jim’s most elaborate prank.

NEXT: The list continues with a ‘stache and a girl group

7. ‘Stache or no ‘stache?

Episode 20’s cold open revealed that even though Stanley had been working for Dunder Mifflin for umpteen years, none of his coworkers could remember whether he has a mustache. The joke was simultaneously ridiculous and completely plausible — not to mention really, really funny.

6. Kevin’s trivia triumph

From the team names (“The Queerstein Bears”) to the predictable but enjoyable conclusion, there was a lot to like about episode 11’s titular bar trivia contest. But the greatest moment had to be Kevin’s response when asked to name the capital of the state Ray Charles famously had “on his mind”: “What is… SEE-attle.”

5. “The Girl Next Door”

Technically, this one is a cheat because it didn’t air on the show itself. (That’s also why I’m not ranking it higher.) But still: Remember Subtle Sexuality, the awesome fake girl group composed of Kelly and Erin? Well, last September, they returned with their second single: “The Girl Next Door,” a sweet tune that takes aim at Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” and features a truly amazing third-act twist. For best results, watch while eating a ham sandwich alone in your office nook.

NEXT: Hipster ArielErin wasn’t our number one pick, so what was?

4. Hipster Erin

That mid-season Tallahassee plot was kind of a nonstarter, but at least it brought us Erin pretending to be a hipster named Tabitha in episode 17. Her plan to drive buzz for Sabre totally worked!

3. The ballad of Ryan and Kelly

Ryan and Kelly’s objectively terrible relationship has inspired some of The Office‘s funniest bits. And in episode 21, their tangled on-again/off-again catastrophe came to a head when Kelly was forced to choose between the douche who constantly cheats on her and a hot doctor (Heroes alum Sendhil Ramamurthy). The funniest part — when Jim and Pam uncovered a love poem written by Ryan, only to be almost moved to tears by it — isn’t on Hulu, but Ryan’s twisted proposal was a decent second.

2. Gabe-raham Lincoln

Episode 6 revolved around the gang’s field trip to Gettysburg. While there, Gabe is mistaken for an Abraham Lincoln impersonator… and, after a while, he began to embrace his new role. Best Gabe-as-Abe line: “I’ve saved the very soul of our nation, and yet — happiness eludes me. … Ah! Perhaps a trip to the theater will enliven my spirits.”

1. “I am the f–ing Lizard King”

Robert California was a divisive character at best. But whether you loved him or hated him, you have to admit his calm, insane dressing-down of Andy in episode 22 was a thing of beauty: “I will not be blackmailed by some ineffectual, privileged, effete, soft-penis debutante. You want to start a street fight with me, bring it on. But you’re going to be surprised how ugly it gets. You don’t even know my real name. I’m the f–king Lizard King.”

Did I miss your favorite moment? Add it in the comments below — and don’t forget to check back tonight for Ken Tucker’s review of the season 9 premiere.

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The Office

The mockumentary-style sitcom chronicles a group of typical office employees working 9-5 at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

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