Phoebe must have been the toughest character on FRIENDS to write for - at least initially. She's a joke-heavy character who can generally be better counted on to deliver a punchline than a setup. She also began her arc as a twee New Age space case who tried to physically pluck the unpleasantness from Ross's aura. She wasn't a one-note character by any stretch, but you couldn't blame a writer for not quite knowing what to do with her in those early days. As the show grew, of course, the writers developed Phoebe more and more, giving her a series of romantic entanglements rich with comedic and dramatic potential (you don't give Hank Azaria to just any old character), and certainly one of the weirdest storylines ever aired on a non-Adult Swim show, when she was implanted with the embryonic offspring of her brother and sister-in-law. But she wasn't paired off with another character like Ross/Rachel or Monica/Chandler, and she didn't get a cool catchphrase like Joey.
But Phoebe's value need not be questioned; she was endlessly hilarious, expertly performed by Lisa Kudrow, and like the song says, she was always there for us.
And she also gave us this joke, from "The One With The Thanksgiving Flashbacks," written by Greg Malins and originally titled "The One With All The Thanksgivings." It's noteworthy for the fact that it doesn't seem like a FRIENDS joke - more like a HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER flashback or an early SIMPSONS non-sequitur. What's more, the gag itself has a tag involving - seriously - dismemberment. What were we saying about Adult Swim humor? But the beautiful thing about it is that it fits right in with Phoebe - it's New Agey in nature, but blunt in its approach. Just like Phoebe.
Anyway, here it is. For context, the episode involves the cast arguing over which of them has had the worst Thanksgiving. Chandler has just finished telling a particularly harrowing tale, at which point Phoebe interrupts:
And here's what the joke looked like once it was shot. It looks like in the final cut, the gag wound up as the tag that ran over the credits:
So, yeah - if you ever meet someone who's not a Phoebe fan, show them this joke.
But there's more - check out some of our other FRIENDS posts: