Leave a Comment
Of all the things that Friends gave the world, from Matthew Perry's signature stressing of the word "be" to Jennifer Aniston's trendsetting hairstyles, the worst has to be the nasal offense to the senses that is Janice's laughter. It's also one of the best things Friends gave the world, due to the sheer depths of its awfulness, and actress Maggie Wheeler could not have a better origin story for this unforgettable character trait.
So the laugh happened organically in the first rehearsal, because I needed to find a way to laugh, because Matthew Perry is so funny. And working with him, I knew right away, I thought, 'This guy's gonna make me laugh on set, I've gotta be prepared. What am I going to do?' So I created Janice's laugh just as a safety measure for when Matthew made me laugh.
How great is that? Besides saying "Oh my God!" Janice is known most for this laugh, and it only came into being as a defense mechanism against breaking out of character during a take. Had Matthew Perry not been such a funny person, she might not have needed to develop her most recognizable quality as a way to squash her legitimate mirth, and millions of eardrums would have been saved from the audio waterboarding that is her braying laugh.
That said, if Janice had only affected a light chuckle, I think it would have seriously diminished her impact across her relatively short stint on Friends. Don't get me wrong, Maggie Wheeler is great and memorable for the duration of her on-and-off relationship with Chandler, particularly when she made her sporadic returns. But I don't think those returns would have necessarily happened had that laugh not burrowed itself into viewers' ears and permanently changed the effect of some synapses. If you can make it through this entire video, you deserve...something I can't even conceive.
As Maggie Wheeler told the hosts of ITV's This Morning, the role of Janice was originally just going to be for one episode, but it branched out into one that brought her back for another 18 episodes across multiple seasons. The chemistry worked, and there are those out there who would have wanted Chandler and Janice to end up together, with that reunion-that-will-never-happen revealing that his marriage to Monica was all a dream and the two were currently living and laughing in some other part of New York City where people hang out at non-coffee shops. But that won't happen, and it shouldn't.
Outside of Friends, Maggie Wheeler has had roles on shows like Everybody Loves Raymond, Archer and Californication, to name a few. She was last seen on a Season 4 episode of Maron earlier this year. Head to the next page to check out her This Morning interview, which is complete with her doing both of her signature flourishes.