Remember that ’90s show, The Insomnia Café, starring Jon Favreau and a goth named Janeane Garofolo? No? Well, that’s almost what could have been, if Friends producers had made some very different decisions. Today, of course, the show is a touchstone for sitcom and comedy fans. The series about six pals finding their way in New York City ran for ten seasons and developed a hardcore following.
If you’re a fan, you’ll know all about the “Rachel” haircut, for example, and exactly how many times Ross and Rachel broke up and got back together. But even staunch Friends followers wouldn’t necessarily know these 20 wild and weird factoids about New York City’s most famous six-some…
20. Ellen was almost Phoebe
The characters of Friends are now considered pop culture icons, so it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the parts. But back in the day, Ellen DeGeneres actually auditioned for the role of Phoebe, while Téa Leoni was first slated to play Rachel. Also, Jon Favreau could’ve had the part of Chandler.
19. The white dog ornament was Aniston’s own
The hideous white dog Joey and Chandler hitch a ride on in “The One Where Eddie Moves In” originally had a previous owner. In fact, it once lived in the home of none other than Jennifer Aniston. One of her friends bestowed it upon her as a good-luck gift when the sitcom first began.
18. It was almost called Insomnia Café
Would we have been as into the show if it had been called Insomnia Café? It’s hard to believe, but that was actually one of the original suggested titles. Other ideas that were bandied around included Six of One and Across the Hall.
17. Producers feared Monica would be too promiscuous
In the very first episode, Monica can’t remember the name of the guy she went to bed with. And as this was a simpler, pre-Girls era, producers worried this was a bit too racy and would turn fans against the character. In fact, they actually surveyed the studio audience – and they enjoyed the character just as she was.
16. Ross and Rachel weren’t supposed to be such a thing
The writers never intended for the Rachel and Ross romance to become such a huge part of the show. But Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer had such awesome on-screen chemistry that it was decided their burgeoning relationship should become a pivotal plot line. Good call.
15. There were never meant to be six
Hard to believe, but Phoebe and Chandler were originally written as mere supporting roles. The show was supposed to be about Joey, Monica, Ross and Rachel. Clearly, the writers must have realized what comedy gold they had with Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry.
14. Phoebe was supposed to be a goth
Perhaps one of the funniest bits of Friends lore is that Phoebe’s character was originally conceived as a goth. Indeed, Janeane Garofolo was actually considered to play this version of Phoebe. But, of course, the role went to Lisa Kudrow. And with her blonde hair and sunny, New-Agey disposition, Phoebe ended up pretty much the opposite of a goth chick.
13. The condom-throwing guy was Frank
In “The One with the Baby on the Bus,” there’s that hilarious moment when some random dude throws a condom in Phoebe’s guitar case, then comes back to retrieve it. Well, eagle-eyed viewers may have recognized that this condom thrower is none other than Giovanni Ribisi, who, funnily enough, later went on to play Frank, Phoebe’s half-brother.
12. That fountain is nowhere near New York
One of the most iconic images of Friends was the six of them frolicking around a fountain. Of course, no such fountain ever existed in New York City. It’s actually located thousands of miles away in California – on the Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank to be precise.
11. A plotline was altered after 9/11
The episode “The One Where Rachel Tells Ross” was scheduled to air in the weeks after 9/11. However, it included a scene where Chandler gets interrogated by the TSA after making a joke about a bomb. It was quickly rewritten to instead be about Chandler and Monica asking for an upgrade. The original scene can now be viewed on YouTube.
10. The role of Ross was written specifically for David Schwimmer
Apparently, the producers of Friends were David Schwimmer fans before the show had even begun. So, when they began to create the role of Ross, they wrote the part specifically with his comedic voice in mind. Indeed, the part of Ross was cast before any of the others.
9. They were careful to rotate the artwork in Central Perk
The set designers made sure the background in Central Perk never grew stale. So, in the spirit of an actual arty café, every third show art directors swapped the old paintings for something new. Smart.
8. LeBlanc made Joey dumb, not the writers
The writers never intended for Joey to be a lovable dummy. But when Matt LeBlanc read for the role, he played the character as being rather dim-witted, which the writers clearly found hilarious. Indeed, they later built the trait into the role.
7. We were robbed of a bongo version of “Smelly Cat”
While fans may have adored Phoebe’s ridiculous songs, in real life, Kudrow dreaded learning guitar. She even asked the producers if her character could play the bongos instead. They refused, so Kudrow reluctantly managed to learn a few chords.
6. That very famous sofa was pulled out of a basement
The only thing more recognizable than the friends themselves might be that sofa upon which the gang regularly perched in Central Perk. And that very special piece of furniture was originally scavenged from the Warner Bros. studio basement. It was lugged on set, and voilà: a star was born.
5. That golden peephole frame was an accident
That gold frame that hung around the peephole of Monica’s front door seemed like a quirky and cool style choice, but in reality it was a different story. It actually came about after a crew member accidentally broke the mirror inside the frame. The set designer thought the empty frame looked cute and decided to keep it.
4. Kudrow was actually scared of the duck
In real life, Lisa Kudrow suffers with anatidaephobia, a fear of ducks. Which now makes her scenes with Joey and Chandler’s fine-feathered friend all the more amusing to watch. Quackers!
3. Kudrow’s pregnancy was written in, but Cox’s was hidden
When Lisa Kudrow became pregnant in real life, scriptwriters adjusted the story to make Phoebe a surrogate mom. But when Cox became pregnant, her character had already announced that she couldn’t have kids. As a result, Monica’s baby bump had to be carefully hidden for several episodes.
2. Chandler’s dorkiness with the ladies was self-inspired
Watching Chandler’s awkward interactions with women was always good for a big laugh. Funnily enough, much of that awkwardness was inspired by Matthew Perry himself. Indeed, it appears Perry also had a hard time communicating with the fairer sex.
1. The original theme was “Shiny Happy People”
No “I’ll be there for yoooooou?” Impossible! And yet that’s almost what happened. The original theme song was supposed to be R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People” but was switched to the theme we of course all now know the words to, The Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There For You.”