When a show gets watched as often and by as many people as Friends does, there aren’t a whole lot of jokes that get missed or ones that go over everyone’s heads and haven’t been cleared up. That doesn’t mean it never happens, though. Hell, we don’t even expect that the jokes we selected here all went over everyone’s heads. We’re sure that most of you caught some of them. In fact, some of you may have caught all of them. But there will be many of you who missed several of them. Follow us so far?
We’ve gone out and found the jokes that people asked about most often. In reality, some of the jokes on this list were those that you thought you got. You felt like you were in on the joke, but you weren’t. You laughed at part of it, but missed out on the whole thing. We’re here to remedy that. The next time you watch Friends, there won’t be a single joke you’ll miss. We don’t want to see that confused look on your face again.
There are several different factors that contribute to people missing jokes on Friends. Maybe you were just a kid when you first experienced Friends and you didn’t get some of the more inappropriate humor. Well, we’re going to assume that you’ve since gone back and re-watched the show. So, we won’t be dealing with jokes that you misunderstood as kids. There are, however, jokes that reference something from a place or a period that you are unfamiliar with. We’ll cover some of those. The biggest category is probably the one we’ve already introduced, the jokes that you think you understand. Maybe you caught half of the joke and that was enough, but there are multiple levels to some of these jokes that you never considered. Whatever the reason is, you missed them and we’re making up for lost time. Let’s take a look at 15 Jokes From Friends That You Never Understood Until Now.
15. Marcel Marceau
In “The One with the Prom Video,” Joey buys Chandler a gold bracelet as a way of thanking him for all the money that his pal has spent on him over the years. Chandler hates the bracelet and makes fun of it. As Chandler is mocking the bracelet in Central Perk, Joey walks in and overhears the comments, and then the shenanigans begin. During this scene, Chandler makes a joke that might have gone over the heads of a few viewers, especially the younger crowd. To jeer the gaudiness of the large yellow gold jewelry, Chandler does a Mr. T impression, which Joey hears and gets offended by. Chandler tries to cover it up by saying that he and Phoebe were doing impressions. He then says to Joey, “Do your Marcel Marceau.” When Joey, visibly hurt, walks away without saying anything, Chandler says, “That’s actually good.” People laughed but you didn’t. You see, Marcel Marceau was a very famous French mime. Mimes don’t talk.
14. The Convenient Sink
In “The One with the Evil Orthodontist,” Rachel goes by her ex-fiance’s (Barry) dentist office to break things off with him once and for all. This obviously doesn’t go as planned because the next time we see her, she and Barry are laying in the dentist chair together naked under a sheet. As they talk about how nice “it” was, Rachel leans over and looks at the sink next to the chair. She says, “It was so nice having this little sink here.” Now, perhaps because we don’t think Friends would be so dirty, this is a joke that doesn’t really land that hard. But think about what’s happening here. That sink is used for spitting. Rachel’s making a pretty risqué spitting joke.
13. Easy Lennie
We debated including this one because the reference involved is pointing to one of the biggest books of the 20th century, but whatever. The joke comes from “The One with the Chick and the Duck.” In it, Joey is holding the chick tightly in his hands. He’s in love with it. Chandler sees this and says, “Easy Lennie.” Now, to everyone who is familiar with John Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men, this is obvious. To everyone else, this is referring to the scene in which the large and mentally-disabled character, Lennie, accidentally kills his puppy. There may be a joke about Joey’s mental capacity as well, but that might be a stretch.
12. Va Fa Napoli
Remember “The One with Chandler In A Box?” This is the episode in which Chandler kisses Joey’s girlfriend, Kathy. Joey is furious and refuses to talk to Chandler except to swear at him in Italian. He uses the phrase “Va’ fa Napoli.” Rachel even says this later on. Now, this is a politer way of saying something pretty dirty. The dirty phrase is “vafangùlu,” which means “go bleep yourself.” So “va fa Napoli” censors the phrase, turning it from something s*xual to “go to Napoli.” In the most basic sense, this is a way of saying “go to Hell.” In truth, Joey is telling Chandler to do something worse than go to Hell.
11. Dudley Moore
In “The One With Ross’ New Girlfriend,” Monica asks Phoebe for a haircut. She asks for it to be cut like Demi Moore‘s. We get that reference. Short and sexy. Phoebe doesn’t do a great job, though. Monica questions her choices and Phoebe says, “This is how he wears it.” She then references a couple of films, which makes Monica realize that Phoebe is cutting her hair like Dudley Moore not Demi Moore. Later, as everyone sits at the table, Ross says to Monica, “Well I like it. I do. I think its a 10.” Here, the audience and the characters laugh, but many of us didn’t get it. One of Dudley Moore’s most famous film was 10.
10. Two Tennilles Jokes
Captain & Tennille were a husband-and-wife musical duo from the ’70s. They had a few hits, but you would be excused for not getting the references to them in Friends. It is weird that there were two jokes to this group. The first came in season three’s “The One with the Football.” Before the game, Joey says, “We have to pick captains.” To this, Chandler says, “And then Tennilles.” The next joke came in “The One with the Proposal Part 2.” After Joey accidentally buys the boat, he commits to it and buys a sailor’s outfit. As he enters Central Perk in his captain gear, Rachel says, “You know who was looking for you? Tennille.” Neither joke was really that funny but at least now you can make an educated decision about whether or not to laugh.
9. Joey’s PIN
In “The One in Vegas: Part 1,” Joey is working at a casino after his film shoot went sideways. Alone and incapable of managing his own life, Joey calls Phoebe to ask for a favor. He has forgotten his PIN number and needs her to get it for him. Part of the joke is that he scratched it on the ATM on the corner. Another part of the joke is that Phoebe knows it right away, saying, “Oh, so you’re 5639?” We all got these parts of the joke, but there’s another side to it. The PIN 5639 spells out Joey. That means that Joey forgot his PIN number when it is his own damn name. Even though it’s simple, that’s a quality multi-tiered joke.
8. Terrible Coffee
In the pilot episode, Rachel moves in to Monica’s place. You know this. At this point, she has never done anything for herself. In the morning, she makes coffee for the first time and it’s a big deal. Now, when she serves this, everyone is disgusted. The coffee is horrible. Pay attention to the scene details, though. There is a plant on the table. Chandler and Joey dump their gross coffee into the plant. Later in the episode, the next time we see the plant, it’s dead. This is a joke that is lost on so many people. It’s incredibly simple, but it’s also one of those neat little details that you might have missed.
7. “Billy, Don’t Be A hero”
In the very first episode, Ross has broken up with Carol. He is asking the guys if there is a chance that there may only be one woman for every guy. What if Carol is his one? Joey, in Joey’s own way, starts comparing women to ice cream, saying that there are more flavors out there. He then urges Ross to “grab a spoon.” This is when Ross says, “You know how long it’s been since I grabbed a spoon? Do the words, ‘Billy, don’t be a hero’ mean anything to you?” Now, we get the implication here. It’s been a while. But the reference might miss with more than a few people. In the ’70s, ‘Billy, don’t be a hero’ was a huge hit in North America. It was such a huge hit that it gives us a date, mid to late ’70s. Since Ross was likely born in 1967, however, that means that Ross last grabbed a spoon when he was about nine, which is a weird thought.
6. The Shower Massager
We can almost guarantee that no female adult fans missed this joke, but it seems that many men do. The joke comes from “The One with the Dollhouse.” In that episode, Monica’s dollhouse is accidentally lit on fire. Ross runs to the bathroom to get water to put it out. It turns out that Monica is in there having a shower. It’s awkward. Afterward, Ross apologizes for running in on her. She responds by saying, “By the way, I was just checking the shower massager.” Although this joke may be obvious to most adults, there seems to be a lot of fans out there who don’t understand that this is a female self-love shower joke.
5. Norma Rae
This is another older and somewhat obscure reference for younger generations. It comes in the episode when Rachel is on maternity leave and visits work only to find Gavin taking over her role. Angered and motivated, Rachel decides to cut her maternity leave short and return to work. To explain this to Ross, she says that her work threatened to fire her if she didn’t. Ross then says, “What? No, that’s…that’s illegal. I’m gonna have the labor department down here so fast they won’t even…” Caught in a lie, Rachel responds, “Alright, alright. Calm down Norma Rae. They didn’t actually say that. I’m just afraid if I don’t come back right now this guy’s gonna try to squeeze me out.” This name drop is in reference to the Sally Field film, Norma Rae, which tells the story of a woman unionizing a mill.
4. Spackle Back Harry
In “The One where Ross and Rachel Take a Break,” Phoebe asks Monica if she would come on a date with Sergei and his translator. Monica asks if the translator is cute. Phoebe says that he is “cute.” Monica then asks, “Cute, like really kinda cute, or kinda cute like your friend Spackleback Harry?” Phoebe then delivers the joke, “Don’t call him that; his name is Spackleback Larry.” Now, we understand the main joke here. You would think that Phoebe would be offended by the nickname Spackleback, but she is actually offended by mistakenly calling him Larry. But what about Monica’s joke? Now, there is some confusion about what “spackleback” means. It could be a way of saying his has a zitty back or something like that. But the term is actually something that would imply that Harry is a gay man.
3. The Benefits Of The Bracelet
Again, we’re dealing with “The One with the Prom Video,” and again, we’re talking about the bracelet. This time, Joey, speaking about the bracelet, asks Chandler if he has “any idea what this’ll do for [his] s*x life.” Chandler then quickly responds, “Well, it’ll probably slow it down at first but, once I get used to the extra weight, I’ll be back on track.” Now, this is kind of funny even if you misunderstand the joke that Chandler’s making. To get the joke, think about Chandler’s self-deprecating humor. He’s implying that his s*x life consists of fun stuff only with himself. The joke is that the bracelet will slow his arm down until he gets used to the weight.
2. Gunther Speaking Dutch
Now, this joke from Gunther is one of those multi-leveled jokes. It comes to us from “The One with the Stain.” In order to get an apartment, Ross pretends he knows a Dutch woman and then decides to learn Dutch to follow through on the elaborate lie. While practicing, Ross speaks to Gunther in Dutch, not knowing Gunther is fluent in the language. Ross, bothered by Gunther taking the conversation to a place he can’t join in, then says, “We’re done.” Gunther then calls Ross an “azel,” which means donkey, but it also has a familiar sound to English speakers. Ross quickly looks up the word, sees it means donkey, and then calls Gunther an “azel” in return. Gunther then responds by saying, in Dutch, “You have s*x with donkeys.” But there are some play on words here, and the phrase sounds similar to English. Not only does the word azel sound like an English variant, but another word for a donkey is an a*s. Do the math.
1. Carol Finds A Hair
This joke is almost certainly one of the most missed jokes in Friends history. It comes at the end of “The One without the Ski Trip.” Ross drops by Carol’s place at night to return her car keys. When the doorbell rings, we see a flustered Carol running to the door while doing up her robe. When she opens the door, she’s out of breath. Ross asks if she was sleeping. She says “ah, no,” so Ross starts complaining about his friends. Now most of us can see that something was going on in the bedroom between Carol and Susan, but the joke is much dirtier than that. Watch Carol’s actions here. She very clearly picks a hair off her tongue after saying “no.” Sure, you could say this was accidental or coincidental and she was actually removing one of her own hairs off her tongue, but we doubt it. The audience laughter seems to suggest that our doubts are well-placed.
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