‘Friends’ writer says cast would ‘deliberately tank’ jokes they didn’t like

“Dozens of good jokes would get thrown out just because one of them had mumbled the line through a mouthful of bacon,” Patty Lin writes in her new book End Credits.

Sydney Bucksbaum


But despite the supportive lyrics of the beloved series’ theme song, it seems that the actors weren’t always there for the writers — at least according to a former staffer. In her new book End Credits: How I Broke Up With Hollywood, screenwriter Patty Lin says that that Friends stars Jennifer AnistonLisa KudrowCourteney CoxMatt LeBlancMatthew Perry, and David Schwimmer would “deliberately tank” jokes they didn’t like, forcing the writers to come up with multiple alternate versions.

Lin worked on the seventh season of Friends, and while she was nervous to join the writing staff so late in the series’ run, she knew she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to be a part of one of the biggest shows in Hollywood.

David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc on ‘Friends’

David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc on ‘Friends’

| Credit: Warner Bros. Television

“At first, I was excited about table reads because I got to be in the same room as the cast, who were Big Stars. Plus, there was a catered breakfast buffet,” Lin writes in an excerpt published by Time. “But the novelty of seeing Big Stars up close wore off fast, along with my zeal about breakfast. The actors seemed unhappy to be chained to a tired old show when they could be branching out, and I felt like they were constantly wondering how every given script would specifically serve them.”

She continues: “They all knew how to get a laugh, but if they didn’t like a joke, they seemed to deliberately tank it, knowing we’d rewrite it. Dozens of good jokes would get thrown out just because one of them had mumbled the line through a mouthful of bacon.”

Scripts were rewritten after the table reads, according to Lin, and things would only get worse during the run-throughs on set.

“Everyone would sit around Monica and Chandler’s apartment and discuss the script,” Lin writes. “This was the actors’ first opportunity to voice their opinions, which they did vociferously. They rarely had anything positive to say, and when they brought up problems, they didn’t suggest feasible solutions. Seeing themselves as guardians of their characters, they often argued that they would never do or say such-and-such. That was occasionally helpful, but overall, these sessions had a dire, aggressive quality that lacked all the levity you’d expect from the making of a sitcom.”

In addition to Friends, Lin’s credits include Freaks and Geeks, Desperate Housewives, and Breaking Bad. End Credits, which chronicles her decade of writing scripts and why she ultimately left the industry, hits shelves Aug. 29.

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