How Ellen DeGeneres was unwillingly behind Janice’s signature cackle in Friends

‘OH…MY…GOD.’ When you least expect it, Janice’s screech in Friends will pop into your head like you heard it just yesterday.

Of course, you probably did on Netflix, Channel 5, or Comedy Central where the sitcom still basically plays on loop every day. Which we’re fine about, tbh.

Despite only appearing in a handful of episodes, Janice is without a doubt very much a part of the skeleton of Friends because that deafening cry every time she walked into the same room as Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) is one of the most distinguishable voices on television.

Maggie Wheeler, who played Janice for 19 episodes of Friends, has revealed we can thank Ellen DeGeneres’ and her sitcom These Friends of Mine, which the actress was sacked from, for Janice’s signature cackle.

‘I had been on the first season of the Ellen DeGeneres show and had a great time but when I was fired from that show, I was devastated,’ the 59-year-old told News.com.au.

‘I was so shaken by it, it was an unthinkable thing as an actor, but I felt in a way liberated to do the work I wanted to do without fear or favour.’ 

She added: ‘On any other day I might have done the Friends audition differently, but it came hot on the heels off that and I felt free and decided to do what I wanted to do on that day and it worked in my favour.’

Maggie elaborated further during a guest spot on Australia’s The Morning Show today.

‘I just made the decision when I saw the audition scene,’ she explained, recalling the moment Janice purchased Bullwinkle socks for Chandler.

‘I made the decision about the voice in advance. I created the laugh because Matthew is so funny and I knew he would make me laugh on set.

‘I thought Janice better have a laugh because he will crack me up every time we work together and so, that is how that happened.’ 

The Friends cast will soon (hopefully) be reuniting for a one-off special looking back at the most successful sitcom of all time on HBO Max.

Despite having a hand in Janice’s voice, Lisa Kudrow recently played down rumours Ellen would be hosting the reunion.

Friends is available to stream on Netflix, Comedy Central, and is gradually taking over the weekends on Channel 5.

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