Tag Archives: character

14 Moments in Life When We Are All Joey Tribbiani

Hello, dear reader.  How’s life been treating you?

We all spend a lot of time quoting stuff at each other, whether it’s religiously meaningful, historically significant or something funny from a film we like.  My generation are particularly prone to this, because we grew up watching Friends.  Although we all love a Phoebe weird-ism or a choice Chandler put down, the truth is that we tend to cope better with life when we view the world through Joey’s eyes.  That’s right: Joey.  The oversexed, jobbing actor with an insatiable appetite and a tendency to come across as a bit dim.  I’m not suggesting that we possess those characteristics ourselves – not all of them, anyway – but for some reason, Joey’s sweet and simple nature makes him the most quotable character in the whole show.  Don’t believe me?  Here are some of the most prevalent life moments when a Joey quotation is the only way to go:

1) When you try but fail to understand current trends.
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2) When you don’t understand what’s going on in your social circle.
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3) When you don’t understand what’s going on AT ALL.
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4) When you need a way to explain how much something means to you – maybe even food.
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5) When you need an excuse to be childish.
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6) When you need to express your fear of ageing.
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7) When YOU’RE CURVY, AND YOU LIKE IT.
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8) When something has come back into circulation that really, really shouldn’t have – I used this one the other day in reference to scrunchies coming back into fashion.  The horror.
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9) When you’re not even sorry
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10) When you’re lost.  (This one happens to me a lot.)

11) When you’re so angry that you don’t make a lot of sense.
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12) When you’re really trying to encourage your friend.
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13) When YOU know what you mean (even if no one else does).
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14) And of course, last but by no means least: when you’re flirting…sort of.
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They’ll Be There For You

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Good morning!  How is everyone today?  Bit tired?  That’s ok, it’s Saturday.  Have a bit of a lie in if you can.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: practically every situation in the life of a twenty-something can be related back to Friends.  In many cases it’s actually necessary to explain things by comparing them to an incident from the programme.  There are also loads of situations from the show that play out pretty much exactly how they would if they happened in real life.  It says a lot about the show that it resonates so strongly with so many people, but I think it also says a lot about my actual friends, who are brilliant.  (Quick side note: I was watching television the other night and the announcer genuinely said “Feel like no one’s there for you?  Why not switch over to Comedy Central Extra for your Friends fix?”  I mean, REALLY.  There are limits, people.)  Here are some examples of times when friends and Friends are at their best:

1) The One Where No One Else Would Understand A Word You’re Saying
In the episode where Rachel has a farewell party before she moves to Paris, she has a heart to heart with each individual friend in turn.  Unsurprisingly, her chat with Monica descends into tearful gobbledegook, as you can see here.  In our own lives, there are many times when we would make no sense to people who don’t know us extremely well.  A real friend will always be able to understand you, even if you talk too fast, mumble or decide to use strange noises rather than actual words.

2) The One Where They Know You Far Too Well
One of my favourite episodes of the series is the one in which the boys win the girls’ apartment via a friendship quiz.  Feel free to remind yourself of it here.  I love this episode for two reasons: firstly, it says a lot about how close the characters are and how much history they have, and secondly I think that the friendship quiz is a genius idea.   Everyone who watches this episode thinks “I must do this with my lot”, because we all have friends that we never need to explain ourselves to: they already know everything.  I would probably abstain from gambling your home on it, though…

3) The One Where They Always Back You Up
My favourite dynamic in the programme is the friendship between Joey and Phoebe.  I love the fact that they’re such different people, but they really respond to one another’s quirks, and they always defend one another.  One brilliant example (which I couldn’t find a clip of, sorry) is just after Ross and Rachel get drunk and married in Vegas.

Ross: We were drunk.  I would’ve married Joey with that amount of alcohol!
Phoebe: Hey!  You could do a lot worse than Joey Tribbiani!

In terms of real life, it’s wonderful to find friends who love you despite your differences, and who will always stick up for you.  Some of my closest friends have entirely separate interests and lifestyles to mine, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t look out for each other.

4) The One Where They Forgive You
The characters in Friends make all sorts of mistakes: Ross sleeps with  someone when he is technically still with Rachel, Chandler drunkenly kisses one of Joey’s sisters and then forgets which one, Joey loses Ross’ wedding ring, Rachel steals Jean Claude Van Damme from Monica, Phoebe ruins Monica’s hair and Monica accidentally chops off Chandler’s toe.  Not a perfect bunch by any means.  But they all forgive one another and move past the problems, which is a great example to those of us who might write someone off for doing anything on the above list.  Although how often does someone chop off your toe?  Yuck.  Let’s not dwell on that bit.  The characters who cannot forgive don’t last (I’m talking about you, Emily), but the ones who do are still friends after more than a decade.  That could be you one day, if you can just move past the toe thing (or whatever the problem actually is).

5) The One Where They’re Not Just Your Friend
The ongoing love story between Ross and Rachel is so well-known that in my generation it’s slang for “meant to be together”.  It even got referenced in Scrubs, as you can see here.  Monica and Chandler are another example of a couple whose attitudes towards one another changed drastically during the course of the show.  I’m not suggesting that you start combing your social circle for potential partners (and God knows that moving a friendship up to the next level is an absolute minefield), but I really do think that good partners should also be good friends.  Whether you start off as platonic and then change gear or fall for someone as soon as you meet them, the person you spend your life with should be as much of a friend to you as they are anything else.

Well, I’m off to help some friends of mine assemble furniture, which is probably going to go something like this classic Friends moment.  Have the kind of Saturday that you’ll tell your grandchildren about.

The Polymath Problem

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Hello and happy Tuesday, lovely reader!

This morning I met up with an old friend from university.  We don’t get to see each other often enough, so inevitably our coffee mornings consist of work updates, living situation discussions, frank bemusement at the behaviour of men and excessive giggling.

Sometimes (not always), we get around to discussing our mutual passion: the arts.  This friend of mine has a lifelong passion for the arts in all its forms: she is a wonderful baker of lovely cakes, she dances, makes amazing craft stuff and is, of course, a fellow Drama graduate.  She co-runs a charity called Ingeenium which does beautiful and inspiring work with vulnerable people, she is a nanny and she currently works for the government in a top-secret, slightly scary capacity.  Oh, and she’s also studying for her PhD.  Superwoman?  I think so, but I’ve never seen her wear a cape, so it’s hard to tell.  The posh term for this friend of mine is a polymath, which sounds like something out of Red Dwarf, but is actually a real thing.  I like that word, don’t you?

This morning she and I were discussing the problem with being a polymath, although the terms we actually couched it in were more along the lines of “What are we actually DOING with our lives?”  The answer is, currently at least, loads of stuff: we are both trying to pursue careers which support as financially as well as challenge and inspire us, we feel very strongly about a lot of things but are not sure what exactly to do about them, and on top of everything the spectre of George Osborne looms menacingly, reminding us that whatever we choose to do, we will still never be able to afford a mortgage.  Do shut up, George, there’s a dear.

My friend was saying that she wishes she could just have one job and pursue one goal, but I had two concerns about this:

1) Sure, it would be amazing to know from an early age exactly what you want to do with your life, but what happens if that dream fails?  What if your one ambition in life is to become a footballer, and you contract Motor Neurone Disease?  What happens if an aspiring doctor fails their exams?  How does a person recover from the abolition of a life-long dream?

2) Pursuing more than one ambition is not only practical in terms of personal investment; it’s a really, really good idea.  Being good at lots of things is something to be proud of, and caring about lots of things makes you a more rounded human being.  Working in several domains can actually improve your skills in certain areas: having acted (a bit), I consider myself to be a more empathetic director.  Besides, there are many awesome people who can be referred to as polymaths.

Here are a few examples:

1) Mark Watson

An excellent stand-up comedian, Mark Watson has also written some brilliant books.  His writing style is engaging, unbelievably touching in some places and (predictably) very funny.  The stories are completely unique, but the characters are very true to life (terrible phrase, that, but it’s the best I can think of).  His books are novels with little or no relation to his comedy career, so much so that it took me quite a while to twig that the author of some of my favourite books was the same person I’d seen on Mock the Week.

2) Kenneth Branagh

The man can act and direct simultaneously.  I have no idea how he does it (especially given that I can barely walk and talk at the same time), but his adaptations of Shakespearean plays into films are intelligent, moving and spectacularly performed.  Since acting and directing technically fall under the same sector I suppose he’s not technically a polymath, but I think he should get bonus points for being able to realise his artistic vision (ANOTHER terrible phrase – sorry, I’ve no idea what’s happened to my cliché filter today!) within two separate roles.

3) Laura Lexx

Another friend of mine from uni, Laura is excellent at pretty much everything she puts her mind to.  It’s mildly sickening.  A formidable academic success, Laura is also an excellent writer (of blogs, plays and more), an hysterically funny stand-up comedian, a queen bee of baking and “one of those” actors.  By “one of those”, I mean those people that you see on stage and wonder how on earth other performers can bear to compete.  She’s also a very lovely person with an excellent impersonation of a dinosaur in her repertoire.

4) Hannah Barnett

Yet another superwoman that I am lucky enough to be friends with, Hannah is *deep breath* a producer, actress, stage manager, unbelievably talented guitarist and singer with the voice of a particularly well-behaved angel.  Hannah is simultaneously the most organised and most easily distracted person I know.  That takes a lot of skill.  Why do I surround myself with these sickeningly talented people?  Oh, yeah – because they’re awesome.

5) Josh Widdicombe

Putting aside the fact that I love Josh Widdicombe quite a lot anyway, he is a brilliant example of why it’s good to have many talents.  Well-known as a stand-up comedian, he is also a talented DJ who hosts a weekly show on Xfm, which he uses as a platform to promote his friends and colleagues in the comedy world.  I am a massive fan of “paying it forward”, i.e. using your experience and opportunities to help others in similar situations.  (One of my favourite things about my university year group is that even now, we still tell each other when we see jobs or opportunities on IdeasTap that we think others in the group would be interested in.)  Josh Widdicombe is substantially more successful than any of my lot are right now, but he still uses his multiple roles to help out his mates.  I think that’s brilliant.

There are dozens if not hundreds of other examples of polymaths around, including national treasures like Stephen Fry and Michael Palin, and they are all to be congratulated on their ability to pursue many dreams.  It’s wonderful to have a passion in life, but I think that being good at and enjoying several activities is a more realistic and open-minded way to live.

By the way, actors turned models and anyone turned reality television “star” (please read enormous sarcasm into the speech marks around the word star, there), do not count.  Being pretty, greedy for money or desperate for attention cannot in any way be classed as a skill.  That’s just sad, and those people need a hug/slap/stern talking to.

Have a glorious afternoon!