Joey Tribbiani, the Secret Stoner

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A recent edition of American music magazine Rolling Stone was themed around marijuana. It featured in-depth profiles on the stars of new stoner film This Is The End (it turns out that Jonah Hill takes himself far more seriously than one might think, and responds poorly to questions about flatulence), billtedexcellenta report on the results of legalisation in Colorado (in a word: good) and a list of the greatest stoner films of all time. When reading this, my attention was caught by the inclusion of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, a brilliantly daft 80s comedy starring a young Keanu Reeves. The film’s goofy plotline and ignorance to basic logic makes its placing on the list obvious, but what struck me was that I had watched the film with my family about 6 years ago, and the obvious influence of pot-head humour had never occurred to me.

This lead on a direction of enquiry as to what other red-eyed, munchy-bearing characters I had missed in my youthful naivety. The most obvious one, whose persistent allusions to weed are ridiculous, is ofcourse Shaggy from Scooby Doo. If his extravagant paranoia, disregard for personal appearance and perchance for sandwiches of gastronomic height didn’t confirm his status as a stoner, then this scene from the Scooby Doo film adaption did:

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But outing Shaggy as a stoner isn’t worth a blogpost: anyone with a basic awareness of the symptoms of being high will have already realised this. No, the character whose smoking habit I want to expose is just as famous but far less conspicuous in his adoration for the stickiest of icky. His name is Joey Tribbiani.

(Sidenote= I will happily admit it: I adore Friends. Whilst I recognise that it is hardly good quality tv, it serves a simple purpose of a mental anaesthetic perfectly. Before or after a long hard day, or between work sessions, the show provides comfort due to its benignly simple plotlines and jokes, which require minimal active thought to process.)

Whilst watching Friends at 3am with a small group of bleary eyed mates, I experienced an astonishing revelation, triggered by the following scene. During the fourth series, Ross’ British girlfriend Emily arrives in the apartment where all our favourite protagonists (ie: everyone but Ross and Rachel) are hanging out. Joey is idly sitting on a chair, eyes half shut, possibly deep in thought (Hm…). As Emily enters the apartment, she sets down her handbag, from which protrudes a giant Toblerone. Upon sighting said snack, Joey’s eyes suddenly snap wide open, he takes a sharp intake of breath, and for a joeystoned1brief moment nothing exists to him other than himself and that beautiful, gleaming mountain ridge of ingeniously crafted chocolate. Needless to say, he has a serious case of the munchies. When the rest of his friends notice his stupefied reaction to the bar and asks him what is wrong, he stares blankly at them for a couple of seconds before mumbling ‘nothing.’ Eventually his yearning for this messianic cocoa-flavoured beacon becomes too much, and he has to interrupt Emily’s phone conversation to ask for some of it. (Watch it here if you like)

After witnessing this exposure of someone I considered previously unrelated to illegal narcotics, I couldn’t help but delve more deeply into the hints at stoning in this, and the closer one looks, the more obvious they become. He grew up in a poor, New York family, and despite his friendly playfulness he is often alluded to as being a pretty tough guy; one might assume he was often around weed in his younger years. He is also rarely employed, spending most of his time at home, despite having few hobbies other than taking care of his avian pets (with whom he has a peculiarly emotional connection…). During one episode, he explains to Ross that there is a knack to relaxing and wasting time whilst unemployed, demonstrating the comfort of his La-Z-Boy chairs and the amusement garnered from prank calling Chandler. One wonders if the extended, unbroadcast version involved him getting out a spliff and saying ‘now this really helps the time go by.’ And of course there is his relationship with food: he takes enormous and serious pleasure from the devouring of fast food, at one point telling Rachel off for hanging up on the pizza delivery company, and he has dubbed an order of two pizzas ‘the Joey Special’. Anyone with a tough background, an abundance of unexplained free time and such a powerful relationship with his local pizza delivery service must automatically seem like a potential indulger in illegal greenery.

All these factors, when combined with his aloof, bumbling personality and attractive natural confidence lead to one inescapable conclusion: Joey is a pothead. But unlike Shaggy, who clearly consumes foolishly large amounts so often that his highness is blatant, Mr Tribbiani is just subtle enough in his habit to keep it from seeping too heavily into his behaviour. Of all the undisclosed stoners of television and cinema, he is the most well-recognised and most subtle; I bet his mother never even noticed.

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