Someone brought to my attention that show casts—especially
comedies, where the set is rife with slapstick and tongue-in-cheek—aren’t
always perfect. Acting requires takes, extra shots, that extra go, and the
rest? The “bloopers” reel.
Once I remembered “bloopers” existed, I had to check out some of F.R.I.E.N.D.S best and brightest blunders.
Fan and network compilations alike bring out the honest mistakes in all the actors: clothes shut in doors, flubbing over words, “spit takes.” Literal ones, if you’re Courtney Cox and Jennifer Aniston. But what really makes every one of these bloopers shine…even if you’re merely tripping over set, like Matt LeBlanc…is the live audience.
I’d forgotten they recorded F.R.I.E.N.D.S episodes in front of a live studio audience; at first, I thought all these compilations had laugh tracks in them for the ambiance. Then I noticed the pitches, the variations and, again, if you’re Matt LeBlanc, how the actors apologize right to the paying members after too many scene-retakes. Though I have no doubt the fans just ate it up. To see your favorites not only being hilarious, but also being hilariously human, would be worth any amount of time it took to film the episode.
Back to bloopers. The other Matthew, Matthew Perry, proves himself a bit of a bloopers-instigator on set. When he isn’t intentionally mocking other bloopers—like running straight into a scene at the Central Perk after LeBlanc tripped over the front doorstep so many times—he makes wisecrack asides and purposefully tries to break characters. Just ask Courtney Cox. Another episode, where she had to say a line several different times, by the umpteenth take Perry deviates from Bing long enough to say in response, “we know already!”
I’ll say it again: the audience certainly got their money’s worth. Bloopers weren’t simply mistakes, choked words, missed lines and entrances. They were the characters on a whole other plane, just for the audience in attendance, being wacky, brilliant, and most of all, real.