FRIENDS: The One at the Las Vegas Pop-Up - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

FRIENDS: The One at the Las Vegas Pop-Up

October 25, 2019 by  

Friends in Vegas

Credit: Warner Bros.

There has been no shortage of FRIENDS celebrations as the comedy celebrated its 25th anniversary—from TBS’ month-long marathon to the New York pop-up to easily half a dozen things more—but arguably one of the most impressive feats was the recent takeover in Las Vegas.

Warner Bros. brought a handful of reporters from Los Angeles to Vegas to experience the activations. Here’s what went down…

Friday, October 18:

Credit: Marisa Roffman/

We boarded a JSX plane, complete with a gorgeous custom wrap celebrating the anniversary. (Also along for the trek? Co-creator David Crane and co-star James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther.) Onboard, the flight attendant got a very important phone call with a very specific warning…

On the flight, they let us borrow the new Samsung Galaxy (thanks to AT&T), which folds, to rewatch the FRIENDS episodes set in Vegas—and if you’ve watched FRIENDS many, many, many times, hypothetically, you might find watching it while folding the phone kind of fun. Hypothetically, of course.

After checking into a hotel room at the Bellagio, there was a knock at the door with a custom FRIENDS chocolate. In addition to the obvious 25th anniversary signage, there was also a lobster and a NYC skyline. It was absolutely gorgeous. (Fun fact: everything but the very bottom of the base was edible!)

Credit: Marisa Roffman/

Next up was a water show at the Fountains of Bellagio—set to “I’ll Be There For You,” the FRIENDS theme song. This sounds absolutely insane, but experiencing it in person brought me to tears. I don’t know if it was the audio clip selection, the pattern, or just how freaking big it was, but I teared up both times I watched it.

After dinner, we went to see The Blue Man Group—who had previously done their own little tribute to FRIENDS—where Tyler was brought up on stage.

Though Tyler seemed like a pro onstage—the quartet moved in tandem and were very funny—they didn’t actually rehearse what would happen. (And though he wasn’t announced, beyond the nod with the theme song, fans from the audience recognized Tyler.)

“I’d never been to a Blue Man show before,” Tyler said later. “So I was really not sure what I was doing!  It was surreal, but really a lot of fun. That was definitely a highlight of this experience.”

Friends in Vegas

Tyler with The Blue Man Group post-show. Photo by Steven Baffo / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Saturday, October 19:

We visited the (one day only) AT&T 5G Friends Fan Experience at New York-New York, where a number of activations were set up on the hotel’s Brooklyn Bridge.

First up was “The 7th Friend Experience,” which allowed “fans to record a 3D version of themselves doing Chandler’s happy dance or drop their virtual twin into a replica of Monica and Rachel’s apartment.” Some of us may have taken to being nerds in there. Again, hypothetically.

The mini version of Monica’s apartment—which they imposed fans into—was truly was stunning. (Think Monica’s much-coveted dollhouse, but for the FRIENDS apartment.) There’s no shortage of FRIENDS merchandise, but who the heck wouldn’t want to own this? (It’s not for sale. But look at it! It even has Monica’s secret closet!)

The next station was a quasi-karaoke booth where fans could sing “Smelly Cat” and activate a Twitter vending machine of sorts—basically, if people Tweeted with the #FriendsxATT hashtag, they would randomly be assigned a letter (F-R-I-E-N-D-S) that correlated to a prize (including Central perk hats and frames, shirts honoring the show, and the Joey-in-Chandler’s-clothes Funko).

The third activation was one of the biggest of the weekend: a life size replica of Central Perk, made entirely of LEGOs, crafted by Nathan Sawaya.

The details were incredible—even the sugar packets were made of LEGOs. (And the stools could really spin!)

“I’m blown away,” Crane admitted. “It is an out of body experience. I mean, it feels like someone took your childhood home and then remade it out of LEGOs. It’s insane—just the amount of care and appreciation [to the details]. It’s just it’s amazing. It’s humbling.”

Fun fact: the activation also got a Guinness World Record for The Largest LEGO Brick Stage Set Replica.

A special guest at fake Central Perk? Katie, AKA the monkey who played Marcel. She patiently sat through photos with reporters, fans, etc.

The next big thing was Phoebe’s Yellow Cab Escape Room, as fans are put through a number of tests as they try to get out in under five minutes. It had a few technical issues while my partner and I were in there, but it was a really unique twist on the escape room concept…plus, it was enjoyable for a hardcore fan, but not too difficult for casual viewers.

Credit: Warner Bros.

For fans who were there are specific times, there were also a few talent-based highlights. The Rembrandts performed a three-song set (“I’ll Be There For You,” “Smelly Cat”—with a fake Phoebe—and their new single, “How Far Would You Go”) four times throughout the day, while Tyler hosted trivia, too.

More than 15 years after the show ended, the enthusiasm for these kinds of events hasn’t slowed down. (In addition to the more traditional activations, there were also photo opps at the FRIENDS couch, plus replicas of the apartment doors.) And many of the FRIENDS faithful were decked out in memorabilia in the day leading up to the official New York-New York event.

“It’s always crazy,” Crane said. “We made the show in a little bubble, and I spent 20 hours a day in the writers’ room—we weren’t out in the world, experiencing it, even the way say the cast [was]. And so 25 years later, the fact that people give a s— is unbelievable.”

While FRIENDS is fairly inescapable on television—with reruns airing on local channels, as well as TBS, Nick, and Paramount—both men have different relationships with rewatching the series. Tyler just recently set out to revisit the series for the first time since it ended, while Crane opts to not watch, lest he second-guess the creative decisions they made at the time.

Tyler credits its enduring popularity, in part, to its cross-generational appeal. “That has retained this popularity, and it’s gained this popularity with so many different generations is incredible,” he said. “Now, this is about three [generations]. I’ve met some people at these events where they come up to me and they say, ‘Hey, this is my mom. She watched FRIENDS with me when I was a baby. And now this is my baby. We’re watching it together.’ So it’s really humbling, just to know that I was a small part of what became a major worldwide phenomenon.”


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