Matthew Perry wrote in his memoir that he didn’t want to be remembered for Friends, but rather for who he helped. The actor has been candid about his struggle with addiction, and following Perry’s death, his longtime friend Hank Azaria opened up about how the 17 Again star helped him get sober too. And it was through humor. Using some absolutely hysterical examples, like how the actor would troll McDonald’s employees in drive-thrus, The Simpsons actor lovingly paid tribute to his pal and their shared experience with addiction and recovery.
In a guest essay for the New York Times, Hank Azaria reflected on his friendship with Matthew Perry, who was his first friend in LA, as he said on Instagram. He noted that they had been friends for almost 40 years, and he called the actor “the funniest friend [he] ever had,” and “the person who helped [him] get sober.” He wrote that the Friends star supported him a lot, especially in his early days of sobriety, saying that Perry’s humor is what really helped him:
I loved Matthew, and I leaned on him a lot in my early sobriety. I was lucky that Matthew was my guy because humor is a huge part of recovery. And he was a hilarious, hilarious man. As funny as he was on Friends — and he was — he was breathtakingly, hysterically unbelievable to be with in person.
Matthew Perry was a beloved member of the Friends cast, and many remember him for how hilarious he was as Chandler Bing. However, according to Azaria, he was even funnier in real life. Noting that Perry would push a bit as far as he could, he wrote about what would happen every time the two went through a McDonald’s drive-thru:
Every time — and I do mean every time — we went to a McDonald’s drive-through, he would ask the person on the other side of the speaker, 'Do you know what Grimace is?' After getting a 'no,' he would offer, 'I think it’s a purple shake that has no cup.' There was usually a pause followed by a very confused, 'May I take your order, sir?'
That little drive-thru joke is some truly hilarious trolling on Matthew Perry’s end, but it wasn't his only bit. Azaria recalled another recurring gag he’d beg his friend not to do. He wrote:
Whenever we went into a public restroom together, I’d beg him — I’d say, 'Please don’t do it, Matthew.' He’d say, 'OK.' Then he would proceed to go into a stall and start making little high-pitched straining 'ow' noises, that would build into a crescendo of a man full-volume screeching as if he were giving birth to whatever was coming out of him in there.
How To Pay Tribute To Matthew Perry
Azaria gushed about Matthew Perry’s humor, and how he used it to help both of them through recovery. The Birdcage actor wrote that their shared sense of humor, which included bits like trolling at McDonald’s drive-thrus, helped both of them “say who we really were.”
In the weeks following Matthew Perry’s death, many have shared their love for him. The Friends cast released a touching tribute, and many other actors and friends of his posted as well. Like Azaria, many noted how caring the actor was, and his mom on Friends said he really took the sitcom's theme song to heart, saying he was always “there” for his friends.
The loss of Matthew Perry is truly tragic, however, it’s heartwarming to hear just how many people loved him and how many he helped. While we can’t see the funny he brought in real life, you can still honor this magnificent comedic actor by streaming Friends with a Max subscription.