There are so many incredible episodes of Friends that highlight Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc’s dynamic duo Chandler and Joey. However, when I think about specific moments starring these two that made me cry with laughter, one of the first scenes that comes to mind is when Joey passionately yells at his friend while wearing all of his clothes: “Could I be wearing any more clothes?” This instance helped cement the “Could I be” bit in Friends history, and it turns out the way they pulled it off is just as entertaining as the episode the bit was featured in.
In the early days of Friends, there were a few instances where Matthew Perry’s character started passionate statements with “Could I be.” While used unironically at first, eventually it became the main way the cast of Friends mocked, impersonated and made fun of Chandler. Eventually, this led to Joey’s heavily clothed and hilarious moment in Season 3, however, before we get to that, let’s talk about the bit’s origins.
A Brief History Of Chandler’s “Could I Be Joke”
Going back to basically the start, in the episode “The One With The Butt,” which is the sixth episode of Season 1, Chandler is having a conversation with Rachel, Ross and Pheobe about a girl he likes but doesn't think he can ask out. While Rachel encourages him to do it, he says:
Oh, please, could she be more out of my league? Ross, back me up here.
Ross then confirms that she is out of his league, and Pheobe tries to encourage her friend to shoot his shot.
Also, memorably, in Season 1, Episode 18 – “The One With All The Poker” -- Chandler is conversing with Ross about a crush, and says:
Could you want her more?
While the “be” isn’t in there, the inflection is the same. From then on, while Matthew Perry’s character does say “Could I be” from time to time, more often than not the phrase is used to mimic Chandler. Every character gets their time to shine when it comes to playing out this bit – from Monica using it to hide the fact that Chandler is with her to Pheobe impersonating him, even Perry used it when he’s making fun of himself.
However, arguably the best use of this joke came during Joey’s iconic moment in “The One Where No One's Ready.” In the scene, he walks into Rachel and Monica’s apartment wearing all of Chandler’s clothes, and he says one of the most iconic quotes from Friends:
Look at me - I'm Chandler! Could I be wearing any more clothes? Maybe if I wasn't going commando!
Of course, this happened because Chandler hid Joey’s underwear, and then Joey said he was “going to do the exact opposite” to his roommate. That, obviously and logically, meant putting all of Chandler’s clothing on. However, there’s more to this story than Matt LeBlanc simply putting on all of Matthew Perry’s costumes to pull this bit off. They had to construct a special costume for him.
The Story Behind Joey’s 'Could I Be Wearing Any More Clothes' Costume
When Joey emerges wearing all of Chandler’s clothes, he’s piled them on so high that the jackets he’s wearing don’t stand a chance of zipping and his arms can’t rest totally at his sides. He piled on sweats, shorts, ties and tons of shirts, and the look was hysterical – especially since he passionately burst into the apartment wearing this silly ensemble. The commitment to the bit of impersonating Chandler along with the absurdity of putting on all of his clothing is a big reason why this is one of the most iconic instances of the “Could I be” joke.
Practically speaking though, they didn’t actually have Matt LeBlanc put on all of Matthew Perry’s wardrobe (although that would have been a fun story too). When Debra McGuire, the costume designer on Friends, spoke to Metro she revealed that they constructed a special costume for Joey’s big moment. She said:
Building that costume was amazing. What we did was, take all these pieces from his iconic wardrobe and cut them so they were flapped and looked like they were layer, upon layer, upon layer.
So, they basically made one giant costume of connected clothing that LeBlanc could get in and out of relatively easily. This made it so he didn’t have to spend hours layering on shirt after shirt and pants after pants. Instead, he could simply step in and out of the outrageous outfit.
Continuing to describe the mechanics of the costume, McGuire explained that it opened in the back, and they were able to Velcro LeBlanc into it. She said:
We undid that costume from the back, so he went in through the back and his arms would go in and it was Velcroed with a piece that went over the back so we couldn’t see the Velcro. It was quite an amazing construction job.
It truly was an “amazing” construction job, and learning how into the bit the costume designers were honestly made the moment even funnier. The reason why this joke works so well is because LeBlanc fearlessly commits to the bit as he exaggerates his impression of Chandler while wearing a hilarious amount of clothes.
Like the story behind how they switched apartments on Friends, this tale shows why the series became one of the best sitcoms of the ‘90s, and why it’s still beloved today. This cast and crew were creative and resourceful, and because of it, they were able to create hysterical moments like the time when Joey barged into Rachel and Monica’s apartment to yell at Chandler: “Could I be wearing any more clothes?”
If you want to go back and watch this legendary moment from Friends, you can stream “The One Where No One's Ready” as well as the entire series with a Max subscription.