Amazing! ‘Friends’ Cast Reunites for ZOOM Table-Read of ‘Waiting for Godot’
Courteney Cox: Hey hey gang! How long has it been?
Lisa Kudrow: Not since that money bonfire David hosted a while back, up in Malibu, right?
(Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox, in their respective ZOOM frames, nod their heads, eyes closed and smiling as they recall hurling hundred dollar bills into the empty pool that Schwimmer had drained for the occasion.)
David Schwimmer: Are we live yet? Tell me when we’re live I need to get into character.
Matthew Perry: Wait seriously? I was told this was kind of a joke thing, no? Like, try-your-best-but-nobody-really-cares-it’s-just-for-the-headline kind of deal, no? (muttering and looking down at his script) Christ I have to fire my managers.
Lisa Kudrow: Well I’m just happy to see you all! It’s been too long! Hey Matt you ok?
(Matt LeBlanc, fully naked and with his ZOOM microphone silenced, lies prostrate atop a pile of ‘People’ magazines from the late 90’s, all of which bear his face on their cover pages. A long string of drool drips from his slackened jaw and a still-burning cigarette droops from his lower lip. A housekeeper spritzing houseplants in the background pays little mind to his supine form.)
Courteney Cox: Can we just get going here? I have a lunch downtown at 12:30 and I really can’t be late.
(David Schwimmer, flustered, beats his keys until his microphone turns on.)
David Schwimmer: Uhm, yeah, me too. I have a lunch later as well. Big one, huge opportunity, so, you know, let’s get cracking here.
(Matthew Perry rolls his eyes.)
Matthew Perry: Ready when you are, people.
Lisa Kudrow: Oh me too! Oh isn’t this so much fun?
Matthew Perry: (again muttering under his breath) Can’t believe I skipped out on a threesome with Kelsey Grammer for this.
Courteney Cox: Hey, where’s Jen? I was told she’d be here, my agent said…
(Cox checks her watch in frustration.)
Courteney Cox: Fuck it, let’s get started. She’ll show up late, as usual.
(The other cast members roll their eyes and take up their scripts. Schwimmer, microphone engaged, recites a mantra to himself — “I am a three-dimensional artist… I am not Ross Geller… I am a three-dimensional artist…” — while Perry lights a cigarette.)
Lisa Kudrow: Oh Matthew, I thought you’d quit?
Matthew Perry: I did, I did. But then I started again, see? (he holds the cigarette up to the camera with a jocular smile)
Courteney Cox: Can we get started? Seriously, I’m up for a role opposite Shia LaBeouf in a Guy Fieri biopic so can we hurry this up?
Uncredited production assistant: Yeah so we’ve been live streaming the whole time so feel free to start whenever.
(Matthew Perry hurriedly stubs out his cigarette and takes up his script.)
David Schwimmer and Courteney Cox (simultaneously): Nothing to be done.
Courteney Cox: Oh.
David Schwimmer: Oh, sorry, it’s just -
Courteney Cox: No, I thought -
David Schwimmer: (laughing nervously) I was told I was playing Estragon.
Courteney Cox: Well that’s what I was told too, so….
David Schwimmer: It’s just that I’ve been kind of preparing for this part…Like I went method, you know…Stanislavsky and all that.
Matthew Perry: (muttering, before quickly turning off his mic) Oh fuck you Schwimmer.
Courteney Cox: I was told that I was Estragon and Jen was playing Vladimir. I swear I’m going to fire my fucking agent… Tiffany!
(A bespectacled millennial rushes into frame, her head slightly bowed.)
Tiffany: Yes, Ms. Cox.
(Courteney Cox snaps her head towards the camera and smiles a Hollywood smile.)
Courteney Cox: Oh please, I told you, you can call me Courteney!
(Tiffany, befuddled, looks from the red dot of the live-streaming camera back to Courteney’s
unblinking, botox-enhanced stare.)
Tiffany: Oh…uhm, of course, Courteney…
Courteney Cox: Would you be a dear and call up Jen’s agents over at WMA or CAA or wherever it is she plants her fucking flag these days.
(Courteney Cox glances nervously at the ZOOM chat, her pilates-toned fingers drumming on the table. Tiffany bows deeply in a culturally insensitive samurai type of way and exits the frame, her sensible flats slapping loudly against the expansive marble floor.)
David Schwimmer: So… cool if I take Eragon for now, or…
Courteney Cox: Fuck it, fine, yes, go ahead, jesus.
Matthew Perry: Hey LeBlanc, you ok? Let’s see a pulse buddy.
Lisa Kudrow: Does he know that his camera is on?
David Schwimmer: (to himself, but he forgets to turn his microphone off) Yes, I’m Eragon, fuck yes.This is you baby. You are David mother fucking Schwimmer, and you are Eragon. That’s right baby, Eragon today, Oscar-nom tomorrow. Stepping stones baby, stepping stones. Life is a journey, a beautiful journey and you are the chosen one.
(Courteney, Lisa, and Perry exchange nervous glances. Matt LeBlanc rolls onto his side, revealing a large arrow-shaped tattoo on his sternum directed downwards toward his now-exposed genitalia. Courteney, Lisa, and Perry sigh heavily.)
Lisa Kudrow: Hey, where’s Jennifer?
David Schwimmer: Let’s go! I’m fully ready, I’m in character, I’m David Schwimmer and I’m ready. Eragon, let’s do this!
Matthew Perry: Christ Schwimmer would you get over yourself?
Courteney Cox: Let’s just skip ahead… I’m Vladimir, ready? Ok, here we go: I’ve nothing to say to you!
David Schwimmer: (making his face all serious and actor-y) You’re angry? Forgive me. (big, dramatic sigh) Come, Didi (way too long of a pause here, like, uncomfortably long. Matthew Perry is looking around at everyone like ‘what the fuck?’, and finally) Give me your hand. (He actually reaches out his hand here, up to the screen like an actor and shit, you believe that?) Embrace me! Don’t be stubborn.
Matthew Perry: Yeah, can we skip to the part where we contemplate suicide? I’m very much in that zone.
David Schwimmer: (still very much in character) You stink of garlic!
Lisa Kudrow: (scrolling through her texts) I swear Jen said she was doing this with us…
(Courteney Cox downs a shot of high-end tequila on screen and shakes off the burn before reading her next line. She rifles through the papers, having lost her place. Matt LeBlanc stirs, rising to his forelimbs only to retch violently before collapsing back into his own sick.)
Courteney Cox: (muttering to herself) Shit, where are we here. I’m going to kill Jen I swear to God… ok here we are, I think… (back out loud now, to the group) To Godot? Tied to Godot! What an idea! No question of it. For the moment.
(Matthew Perry plucks another cigarette from his shirt pocket and lights it with a zippo-lighter that’s shaped in the likeness of his head.)
Matthew Perry: (smirking, glancing at Courteney Cox out of the corner of his eye) Say, anyone hear from Aniston lately? Thought she was supposed to be here.
David Schwimmer: We were on a break! Shit, sorry, wrong line. Line! (he calls out for a line only to realize that he is not on a sitcom set but rather in the vacuous living room of his Beverly Hills estate. His voice echoes off into the canyon that his pool overlooks and he snaps his head back down to the pages of the script) What’s he waiting for?
(Silence as they all look at one another for whose line it is.)
Matthew Perry: Now, I was told Phoebe was playing Pozzo…
Lisa Kudrow: Perry you motherfucker I told you not to call me that. I am more than a character I played in the 90’s and so are you!
Matthew Perry: Am I? I got cast in a bit role for a ZOOM table-read of a play that only pretentious people pretend to understand or enjoy.
Lisa Kudrow: Oh yeah? Who are you playing?
Matthew Perry: (glancing down at his script) Somebody called… Lucky. Christ, if that isn’t irony I don’t know what is…
Courteney Cox: Just read your lines damnit! I have to be somewhere and it’s already noon. Tiffany!
(Courteney Cox mutes her microphone but on the ZOOM video you can see her berating Tiffany, who holds back tears. Cox holds up an 8x11 glossy of Jennifer Aniston and slaps it with her forefinger before shooing Tiffany out the door.)
Matthew Perry: (reading his lines) Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell and suffers like the divine Miranda with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm so calm with a calm which even though intermittent -
David Schwimmer: (breaking in, jealous of Perry’s monologue) — is better than nothing but not so fast and considering what is more that as a result of the labors left unfinished crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry of Essy-in-Possy of Testew and Cunard it is established beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labors of men that as a result of the labors unfinished of Testew and Cunnard it is established as hereinafter but not so fast for reasons unknown that as a result of the public works of Puncher and Wattmann -
Matthew Perry: Seriously Schwimmer? This again? Still jealous that I always got the best lines after all these years? Somebody get Aniston to talk some sense into this B-lister.
(All gasp. David Schwimmer clutches his chest.)
David Schwimmer: How… dare you!
(With a grunt of unconscious effort, Matt LeBlanc flops onto his keyboard, his gut nudging the microphone button to ‘on’. Rubbing his eyes, he stares up at the faces staring back at him from their respective ZOOM frames.)
Matt LeBlanc: Hey… What the hell… How long have you guys been… Hey where’s Jen?
Courteney Cox: Exactly! Where the fuck is she?
(Enraged, Cox snaps a leg off of her desk and hurls it in the direction of Tiffany, who cowers in a just-visible corner of Courteney’s ZOOM box. Cox storms out of frame.)
Matthew Perry: (voice dripping in that Chandler Bing sarcasm we all adored so much, though without the laugh track he just kind of seems like a dick) There it is. Okay, I’m out too. Good to see you guys, let’s do this again real soon!
Lisa Kudrow: Oh, you guys! Come on, we can make this work, for the fans!
Matthew Perry: Don’t be naive Phoebes, nobody’s watching this.
(Matthew Perry lights a final cigarette on-screen before flashing an ironic peace sign with his fingers, rolling his eyes, and leaving the chat. Lisa Kudrow throws her hands up beseechingly before sighing, blowing a kiss, and leaving the chat.)
David Schwimmer: Philistines! All of you! We had an opportunity to create art here and you pissed it away, you ungrateful, spoiled Hollywood -
(Schwimmer is interrupted by another loud retch from LeBlanc. His violent projectile vomit shorts his connection and his screen goes blank. Schwimmer sighs and then forms his hands in a triangle in front of his chest in a white-guy-humble type of way, bows and leaves the chat. Tiffany collects herself and crawls over to the computer to end the session, tears streaming down her cheeks. After a moment the screen buzzes back to life, and Jennifer Aniston’s ageless mug fills the screen.)
Jennifer Aniston: Hello? Hello? Huh, guess I’m the first one. Ok, so I guess I’m playing… what is it, Vladimir? Ha! What a name, that’s great. Ok this’ll be fun, here we go: Yes, let’s go -
Aniston peers up at her screen, and, seeing nobody, shrugs and leaves the chat.