For a decade from 1994 to 2004, the show Friends captured audiences around the world. The show might not have provided a dose of realism to viewers (especially not in terms of a New York City lifestyle), but it did offer a close-knit group of friends involved in a series of hilarious and yet heartfelt scenarios. From monkey friends to unexpected promotions, it covers the magic and uncertainty of being in your twenties.
Most viewers gravitate toward a certain character. Anyone who has seen the show has likely dubbed one of their friends a Rachel or a Phoebe or a Chandler. Each of the main six characters has their own dedicated following—but some, including Joey Tribbiani (played by Matt LeBlanc), seem to have a larger number of hardcore fans.
Joey’s character is known for his endearing stupidity, passion for food and women, and his up-and-down career as an actor and model. Though he was written to be equal parts vapid and charming, Joey is also one of the show’s most hilarious personalities. As Friends nears its thirtieth anniversary, let’s take a look back at some of Joey’s top moments.
Finding his ‘Hand Twin’ in Vegas
Chasing the promise of a feature-length film role, Joey packs his bags and heads to Vegas. Unfortunately, the film set shuts down after it loses its funding, leaving Joey stranded near the Strip. At one point, he finds himself playing a game of blackjack. Today, the vast majority of players prefer to play blackjack online, as it is more convenient and usually involves a better welcome deal—but back in the late 1990s, most people stuck to brick-and-mortar establishments.
While playing, Joey realizes that the dealer has an identical set of hands that could earn them money as paid hand actors—so much so that he dubs them ‘hand twins’. Unfortunately, his insistence forces the dealer to give him the boot from the table before he has the chance to hit 21. But not before Joey insists that he’s already written a song for the pair, “This hand is your hand, this hand is my hand. No, wait, that’s your hand. No, wait, it’s my hand.” Instant classic.
Pleading ‘Not Me’ on His Thirtieth
Not everyone knows the thrill of meeting their hand twin in a Vegas casino—but everyone can relate to the feeling of turning thirty. As the oldest in the group, Joey tries to cheer Rachel up by insisting that turning thirty isn’t a big deal. The scene then pans back to Joey’s thirtieth birthday, where he sits before a cake with lit candles and screams to the heavens, “Why, God? We had a deal. Let the others grow old—not me!”
Chandler steps in to insist that it really isn’t that bad. Once again, audiences are treated to a flashback of Joey lamenting on Chandler’s behalf, looking toward the sky and crying, “Why are you doing this to us?” It’s easily one of Joey’s most relatable and hilarious moments which every single viewer can relate to at some point in their life.
Hiding Life’s Harder Subjects in the Freezer
Full of whimsy and idiosyncrasies, Joey’s character is often surprisingly complex. This comes into focus during one episode where Joey turns his attention toward reading. After confessing that he once hid the book The Shining by Stephen King in the freezer to help him feel less frightened, the group becomes a bit more interested in his reading habits. Soon, Rachel decides to pass on a copy of Little Women.
Later on in the episode, Rachel reveals a major spoiler, which Joey tries to ignore. However, he later approaches her and admits, “Beth is really, really sick,” at which point he reveals that he had to stick the book in the freezer because the plot got a bit too emotional. It’s one of dozens of unique moments that are both tender and laughable, which is what makes Joey such an enduring favorite from the show.