Robin Williams and Billy Crystal’s ‘Father’s Day’ Led to the Weirdest Scene in ‘Friends’ History

Two comedy superstars walk into Central Perk…
Robin Williams and Billy Crystal’s ‘Father’s Day’ Led to the Weirdest Scene in ‘Friends’ History

When news hit that comedy superstars Billy Crystal and Robin Williams were going to star in a movie together, under the direction of Ghostbusters’ Ivan Reitman no less, audiences were expecting one of the funniest films of all time. Instead, they got 1997’s Father’s Day, which was torn apart by critics and has been justifiably forgotten today. 

I mean, the fact that Father’s Day was predicated on the idea that Sugar Ray is one of the greatest rock bands on Earth, and that’s not the worst part of the movie, is saying something. And wasting the comic talents of Julia Louis-Dreyfus should be some kind of a federal crime.

While we’re guessing that nobody is watching Father’s Day every June, as if it were the It’s a Wonderful Life of Father’s Day, the movie’s influence can still be felt today. How? Well, it gave us what was arguably the most baffling scene in the history of Friends.

Season Three’s “The One With the Ultimate Fighting Champion” opened with the Friends gang characteristically loitering in Central Perk, only to be interrupted by Williams and Crystal. The strangers ask to share their private sofa, like everyone else in that coffee shop should have done years ago.

The Comic Relief stars then launch into a bizarre conversation about how Williams (who is sporting a nondescript accent for some reason) suspects that his wife is cheating on him with her gynecologist. Then Crystal reveals that he’s the one who’s been sleeping with his wife, Williams storms out, and Crystal shrugs, but somehow manages to stop himself from looking directly into the camera and urging viewers to go see Father’s Day in theaters. 

Although Friends didn’t exactly shy away from gratuitous celebrity cameos, lest we forget the time that Jean-Claude Van Damme randomly showed up, this scene feels particularly distracting. Fans have complained that they “hate” the “annoying” and “out of place” scene, despite having an affection for the two stars. 

According to an article in Screenrant, this scene was thrown together because “Williams and Crystal happened to wander onto the Friends Central Perk set and the writers asked them if they’d be up for a quick cameo.” They supposedly agreed and improvised the entire thing. 

While Williams and Crystal ad-libbing most of this scene isn’t all that surprising, the whole thing just reeks of corporate synergy — both Friends and Father’s Day were Warner Bros. productions, and the episode aired literally one day before the movie came out. 

Reports from the time noted that the studio’s TV and film branches actually “coordinated and timed the cameo appearance to tie into the film’s opening.” And Warner Bros. Television President Tony Jonas admitted that this was all part of a new strategy that would allow for more cross-promotion between the movie and TV divisions. “I know in the next couple of years I’m going to be hearing about a lot more of these," Jonas told the press. “There’s a sharing that’s going on now (between divisions) that we’re taking more advantage of.”

Crystal claimed that he was excited to work with Matthew Perry because he “lost the chance to work with his father John in Soap when he was recast at the last minute,” but the whole thing just didn’t work. 

It was still better than the Brad Pitt episode though.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 


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