The One Where Gunther Dances

Season 1 Episode 3

Written by: Neil Studd
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me, but to Bright, Kaufman and Crane Productions and Warner Bros. Their use is not intended for profit, only for entertainment.

So far in the series: Joey still lives alone, but is still managing to make ends meet through bribery and charity. Chandler and Monica are still living together in co-habitational bliss, and Rachel and Phoebe are roommates. Ross is slowly growing less pathetic. The focus for this episode is Gunther (obviously) - it's kinda surreal but it's so different, it's great. Enjoy.
Oh, and apologies to all Mexicans for the opening scene. If anyone thinks of a place that would fit better in there, just let me know.

[Scene: Central Perk. Chandler and Joey enter, and go to sit on the couch,'s not there. There's nothing there at all, just bare floor. Even the coffee table has gone. Chandler and Joey exchange glances, then approach Gunther at the bar.]

Joey: Hey, Gunther, what's with the missing couch?

Gunther: (showing the guys a brochure) Sorry. Head Office regulations. To move this place into the 21st century, we're becoming a coffee house, stroke discotheque.

Chandler: ...but surely that's just moving this place into the 1970s? Shouldn't you become, like, a coffee house, stroke Internet cafe?

Gunther: (giving Chandler a "look") Okay, what's cheaper, throwing away an old sofa or buying a network of computers?

Joey: (shocked) You threw that couch away? I've spent most of the last six years sitting on that!

Gunther That's why we had to throw it away. Do you have any idea how much leftover pizza you used to stick down the sides of that thing?

Joey: (excitedly) No, but I'm gonna! Where'd you take it to?

Gunther: Where everyone gets rid of stuff they don't want.

Chandler: (making for the exit) Quick! To Mexico!

Opening Credits

[Scene: The Dump. Rubbish is piled sky high, it's's not a very nice place to be. Joey is searching for the missing couch.]

Joey: (thinking) Now where could that couch be?

(He sits down to pauses for've guessed it, he's sitting on the couch. A long pause as Joey looks into the distance, wondering where the couch is. A worker approaches.)

Joey: 'Scuse me, trash man! You seen a sofa, about (motioning) this wide, about so tall, chocolate colored, smelling slightly of coffee and pizza?

(The worker considers the scene for a second, with Joey sitting on said couch.)

Worker: (deadbeat, sarcastically) No. (He leaves.)

Joey: Damn!

[Scene: The couchless Central Perk. Rachel and Phoebe are sitting at a table by the window. They're discussing the loss of the couch. Rachel is mid-sentence.]

Rachel: from now on it looks like we can only sit in twos.

Phoebe: Yeah. And I guess Monica will wanna sit with Chandler.

Rachel: Ooh! We should sit together!

Phoebe: (apprehensively) Yeah, but that would mean that Joey would have to sit with Ross.

Rachel: Come on! That's not that bad! Ross is a nice guy, and he and Joey are friends.

Phoebe: Yeah, that was before. Y'know, if we were all sitting over (she points to where the couch used to be) there, and, like, Ross starting talking dinosaur crap, we could drown it out by ignoring him and starting our own mini-conversations.

Rachel: (catching on) ...but if it's just Ross and Joey... (it clicks) Poor Joey! We can't do that to him!

Phoebe: Exactly. So who's it gonna be Rach, Ross or Joey?

Rachel: Well, after what you just said, Joey I guess.

Phoebe: No, you're not listening: who's it gonna be Rach, ROSS or Joey?

Rachel: That's not fair! We dated for, like, ages! I've had my share of his nonsense!

(At this moment, Gunther enters shot. He's wearing lime green flares and a purple shirt with a large collar. He's also wearing a big fuzzy wig and gold jewellery. Yep - he's become Seventies Man. He's got two smartly-dressed executives following him, and he's clearly showing them around.)

Gunther: (pointing) ...the glitterball will go there...that's where the smoke machine will be...

Executive 1: What about the floor, Mr...(he searches for Gunther's second name)

Gunther: You can just call me Gunther. Everyone else does.

Executive 1: OK Gunther, about the floor. To recreate that true seventies feel, you're gonna need a surface which has ridiculously little grip, but is still rock hard when you fall over and (motions, clapping) slap on the floor.

Gunther: Err...well, that might be a problem. You see, we can't compromise the safety of our staff during the day. Customers don't stand for having hot coffee poured over them after the second or third time. Just ask her. (He points at Rachel.)

Executive 2: Mr Gunther, if you want to be part of this show, you're gonna have to cut us some slack.

Gunther: I'll see what I can do. (He shows them out.)

(Rachel has clearly been listening in and calls Gunther over.)

Rachel: Hey Gunther!

(Gunther runs as fast as he can to Rachel's table. She's a little overwhelmed.)

Gunther: Yes?

Rachel: What's with the posh guys?

Gunther: (innocently) What?

Phoebe: Yeah, Suity McSuiterson and his friend, Joe Suit. What were they up to?

Rachel: You don't actually have a head office, do you Gunther?

Gunther: (flustered) Err...well...

Phoebe: Spit it out!

Gunther: (trying to think of an excuse) Umm...aah...err...

Rachel: Come on! I wanna know everything!

Gunther: (willing to do anything for Rachel) Okay. There's this cable TV show, "Star Bars"...

Rachel: Uh-huh.

Gunther: ...well, they have a Bar of the Week, and if your bar is really great, they get a film crew round to film A Day In The Life of your bar, and I thought a bit of free publicity wouldn't do any harm...

Phoebe: (sensing there's more to it) ...and?

Gunther: Plus I love this shirt and need a good reason to wear it all the time.

[Scene: Joey's apartment. Joey is at the window, drawing, as Chandler enters.]

Chandler: Hey.

Joey: Hey.

Chandler: This may be the most unlikely question that I ever ask you, but...are you doing art?

Joey: Not really. I'm trying to figure out the quickest route between the dump and my apartment.

Chandler: ...So that you can get to that trash while it's still (motioning) red hot?

Joey: No. I gotta get that couch up here somehow. I ask Pheebs, but she said something about her Grandmas car only just having been disinfected or something.

Chandler: You're not seriously thinking about bringing that thing up here, are you?

Joey: Of course! I love it!

Chandler: I'll buy you a brand new one that's exactly the same if you promise not to bring that rancid thing anywhere near mine and Monica's place.

Joey: You don't understand! That thing's got history!

Chandler: (sarcastically) Yes, I know, it was made in Colonial times...

Joey: Really?

Chandler: All I'm saying is, just think about the logistics of it all. I mean, this could well be a woman repellent. You know, you bring a girl back here, she asks you for a cup of coffee, you tell her to go make herself comfortable, she sits down on the Couch From Hell, and all of a sudden...she's outta here.

Joey: (shocked) You mean...

Chandler: That's right Joe. If you get this couch, you may very well never have sex again.

Joey: (stunned) Wow. Well you know what I'm gonna have to do, don't you?

Chandler: No.

Joey: I'm gonna have to call Ross and persuade him to put the couch in his place. (He goes to the phone. Chandler is lost for words.)

[Scene: Outside Central Perk, evening. We can hear "Car Wash" playing inside. The place is obviously attracting a suitably seventies crowd; there are men in their forties wearing leather jackets standing outside. Seventies Gunther is motioning people inside, as Phoebe and Rachel approach.]

Gunther: Sorry guys. No entry.

Rachel: Gunther, what are you talking about? We've been drinking in this place since the day it opened!

Gunther: Believe me, Rachel, I'm very sorry. It's just, in the evenings this is the Seventies Zone. And, from what you're wearing, you clearly don't belong in the seventies.

Phoebe: (not sure whether that's a compliment) Thanks?

(Ross approaches, with Joey just behind him.)

Gunther: (Re: Ross) See, now here's a real authentic guy. The hair, the clothes, the walk... He can go straight in. (Ross is dressed exactly as he usually is.) Welcome to the seventies, my man. (He blocks Joey's entrance.)

Joey: Ooh! But see, (getting out his wallet) I have a condom in my wallet that expired in 1972...

Gunther: Good enough for me. (He ushers Joey in. Phoebe and Rachel exchange glances.)

Phoebe: Umm...I once played a song which was first a hit in 1976!

Gunther: In you go. (Phoebe gives Rachel a smug look, and walks in.)

Rachel: Ooh! My friend Tina lost her virginity in 1978!

Gunther: Right this way please. (He enters with Rachel.)

[Scene: Inside Central Perk, continued. Rachel and Phoebe stand by the door.]

Phoebe: Here we go. (Pointing at two empty tables in the corner.) You sit on that table, I'll sit on this one. We'll see who gets Joey. (They each move to their table. Joey and Ross approach. Ross carries a tray of coffees, while Joey does a little dance, winking at the ladies on the dancefloor.)

Rachel: Say, Joey, do you wanna carry on that conversation about your Top Ten sandwiches?

Joey: (excitedly) Do I! (He eagerly sits by Rachel's side. Ross takes a seat next to Phoebe.)

Ross: Hey, Pheebs, this is great. I can finish that story I was telling you about the Carnotaurus sastrei. (It's a dinosaur, I pinched it from The Lost World...sorry Michael Crichton...)

Phoebe: (feigning interest) Hmm... (in head) I'll get you yet, Joey Tribianni. Just you wait and see. (still in head, frantic) I don't mean I'll get you into bed or anything, I mean that I can have a nice, "pleasant" conversation with you! (out loud, cursing herself) Stupid.

Ross: Yes, Pheebs, they were stupid, but their ability to camoflague themselves, chameleon-like, with the natural environment... (Phoebe sinks her head in boredom.)

[Scene: Chandler and Monica's. Chandler is watching Baywatch with his feet up on the coffee table, eating a very large piece of cake, as Monica enters. He quickly switches over to the news, takes his feet of the coffee table, and in a desperate attempt to disguise his slobbishness, forces the whole piece of cake into his mouth. He then turns and gives Monica a very wide, chocolatey smile.]

Monica: It's alright Chandler, I don't mind what you eat or what you watch. This is as much your place as mine, you know.

Chandler: (mouth full) Thanks. (He showers crumbs everywhere. Monica screams and rushes for a dustpan.)

Monica: (frantically sweeping) You and I have got to talk about these living arrangements!

Chandler: (swallowing the last mouthful of cake) 'Kay, but can we do this later? The guys are expecting us down at the coffee house, and Ross just called me and told me to bring my tux. (scared) And I don't know why.

Monica: It's alright, Chandler. It's just, you know how I am with spillages and crumbies. All I ask is, if you're gonna eat food, just make sure you have a plate. (Pause.) And I think you look great in a tux.

Chandler: When did you see me in a tux?

Monica: Thanksgiving, 1987. But your hair's nicer now. Come on, I've gotta get changed. And Joey told me to wear a big wig. Anything to do with this new seventies theme?

Chandler: No, that's Joey for ya. He just likes women with big hair.

Commercial Break

One Week Later

[Scene: Chandler and Monica's. The whole gang is sitting round the television, waiting for Central Perk to appear on TV. Note: Anything that takes place on the TV in this scene will be indicated by italics.]

Monica: So Gunther's decided to put the place back to the way it was before?

Rachel: Yep. Apparently the seventies thing was just a phase.

Ross: Good.

Chandler: Yep, back to normal.

Joey: It's not good! I was looking forward to having that couch in my apartment!

Chandler: Gunther's taken the old couch back from the dump?

Joey: (bummed) Yeah, it sucks. He was gonna buy a new one, then he realised that he'd spent all of his money on smoke machines and records by Earth Wind & Fire, so he got the old one back for a dollar.

Rachel: You know, we can go down to the coffee house as soon as the show has finished if it'll make you feel any better. (Joey nods.)

(Some very cheesy disco music begins on the TV; the credits to "Star Bars" begin. It's obviously a very amateur show, the camerawork is very shaky. When the credits finish, we cut to the presenter, Tom Farrell, who is standing on a beach. Actually, it's pretty obvious he's not on a beach, but standing in front of one of those blue-screen things (you know, where they project a picture behind you so it looks like you're somewhere else...) He's not been dubbed very well; the sound is not quite in line with the pictures.)

Tom: Hey, bar lovers, I'm Tom Farrell, and welcome to this week's show. Boy, do we have a treat for you!

Chandler: Do ya?

Tom: This week, a coffee house in the Village with a difference! By day, a regular hangout for workshy businesspeople; by night, a portal to the seventies! (At this point, the "beach" behind him flickers and for a second we see it's no more than a blue wall. The "beach" comes back. Tom hasn't noticed this glitch.) We sent our camera crew down to film a fly-on-the-wall account of a week in the life of Central Perk! (As he says this, a cleaner walks across the room behind him, walking across the "sea" and out of shot.)

Chandler: And they said that they were running under budget for the show...

Monica: Chandler, I know the show's crappy and all, but are you gonna be making wisecracks all the way through it?

Chandler: No, sorry. But what if they show the clip where Joey got into a fight with that elephant?

Joey: I told you, it wasn't real!

Chandler: No, the cleverly programmed fake elephant picked you up by its trunk, threw you across the street and then pooped on your head. Boy, these scientists are amazing.

Joey: 'Kay, maybe it was real. But that doesn't explain why there was a man next to him shouting instructions to him.

Chandler: Joe, "Get your hot dogs!" doesn't mean much to an elephant.

Joey: Of course it does! It's elephant language for "Throw that Italian man around and poop on his head!"

Rachel: Oh, stop squabbling you two, it's starting!

[Scene: Outside Central Perk by day.]

Tom: (voiceover) This is Central Perk. Looks just like a regular coffeehouse, doesn't it? Well it was, until owner Gunther decided it was time to attract a wild new crowd to his little part of the Village!

(Time lapse. We see Central Perk by night, with neon signs and street theater. Tom is now standing outside.)

Tom: Welcome to Seventies Central Perk, the bar that never sleeps! It's like the last twenty years never happened!

Joey: (bummed) Aww, man! I loved the last twenty years!

Tom: But even we were shocked when we took our cameras inside to film the place for a week. Not only did we learn some very interesting facts about our friend Gunther, but we also see what some of the regular clients get up to!

(A screen appears subtitled "Coming Up". We see Joey kick an elephant's leg with an expression on his face as if to say "it's not real!")

Joey: (still baffled) It wasn't real!

(The next "Coming Up" shot we see is of Ross sitting at a table drinking coffee. He is reading a newspaper, which we can only see the back of. Suddenly, out of the newspaper drops a magazine of questionable taste (hey, you know Ross, and I'm sure Friends doesn't need to give Playboy any more publicity). He laughs and slides it away under his elbow.)

Ross: (fake laughter) Some kid must've put it in there for a joke.

[Scene: Inside Central Perk by day. Tom is interviewing Gunther at a table. Gunther is dressed in regular clothes, i.e. shirt and tie. From time to time, the big overhead microphone keeps accidentally dropping into shot.]

Tom: Hello Gunther, welcome to Star Bars. So what made you first decide to give this place a makeover?

Gunther: (obviously using the show for free publicity, he smiles straight into the camera) Well Tom, I've always found that Central Perk represents both quality and value for money, with pleasant and helpful service to go with it. Opening up as a seventies bar outside of regular hours means that we can keep the drinks flowing all night, and allow even more customers to experience the wonder that is Central Perk! (He gives a cheeky wink to the camera.)

Tom: That's all very well, Gunther, but isn't it illegal to sell alcohol outside of licensed hours without a permit?

(A long pause.)

Gunther: So the seventies idea just came from wanting something different for people to experience.

Tom: What about the permit, Gunther?


Gunther: Yes, even people with permits are welcome at Central Perk. (He winks again.)

(Time lapse. We see men setting up cameras at various points in the coffee house.)

Tom: (voiceover) We placed eight cameras at points covering all angles of Central Perk, inside and out, to get a good feel for the place.

(We see two men approach Gunther. One attracts his attention by tapping him on the shoulder. The other sneaks a secret camera onto a ledge behind the counter while his back's turned.)

Tom: (voiceover) We also placed several secret cameras without telling Gunther, to see what went on when the cameras weren't rolling. There's one behind the counter, one in Gunther's office, and one in the ladies' bathroom. (We hear Tom whisper to his producer, "Are you sure about that one?") So, let's see what footage we found when we returned a week later!

(Note: all the cameras are in black and white, and flicker occasionally. The first one we see is of Gunther getting ready to open up. He walks up to one of the cameras that he knows is there.)

Gunther: (chirpy) So, Monday morning! The start of a new week! And what a glorious day it is. Mind you, you're welcome come rain or shine at Central Perk! (He does the wink again. He wanders away from the camera and behind the counter. The shot changes to the viewpoint of the secret camera. Thinking he's off camera, Gunther says what he really thinks.) Glorious day my butt. I'm stuck behind this flaming bar, serving coffee to people who are clever enough to get it themselves, and the only thing that's keeping me going is the thought that I might get to see Rachel in a dress tonight.

Rachel: (off the others' looks) So he thinks I wear nice dresses. So what?

(Gunther wanders out the back and up to his office. Cut to the secret office camera. We see pictures of Rachel all over the walls, including one large framed one of Ross and Rachel from when they were dating; Gunther has superimposed his own head over the top of Ross's head. Gunther kisses the photo.)

Rachel: So he thinks I'm photogenic. A lot of people are, you know.

(Gunther returns downstairs and opens up the door. There's nobody waiting to come in. He looks into a camera.)

Gunther: Well, it's early days yet. People're obviously stuck in traffic.

(Cut to outside shot of Central Perk. There's not a car in sight. Caption: "Three Hours Later." Cut back inside, where Gunther is obviously bored. He is tossing a coin onto the counter.)

Gunther: (calling it in the air) Heads! (it lands, tails.) Damn! (Writing on order pad) That's Gunther 18, Coin 83. (tossing it again) Tails! (it lands, tails. Gunther jumps and whoops for joy, as if he'd just scored the winning points in the Superbowl. Composes himself, and writes on pad) Gunther 19, Coin 83.

(In walk Phoebe and Rachel; they are in the middle of a conversation.)

Rachel: I'm telling you Pheebs, soya burgers are gross! I don't care if you don't eat meat, that's not an excuse to eat crap!

(The camera moves to focus on Gunther in the distance, who has dashed out to his office. Cut to the camera in his office, where we see a large flipchart with a line down the middle. One side is headed "What Rachel Likes", the other "What Rachel Doesn't Like." Both sides feature Ross crosses out a lot of times, then written in again, then crossed out, then written in again... Amongst other things under "What Rachel Likes" are BAGELS, PURPLE CARS, DAIRY, ERIC CLAPTON, SNOOPY. "What Rachel Doesn't Like" includes MOULDY BREAD, SONGS FEATURING THE WORD "CARESS", THE WORD "CARESS" IN GENERAL, SPIDERS, MEN, SPIDERMAN, and Gunther adds SOYA. He runs out and back behind the counter again.)

Rachel: So he likes to know what I'm interested in. That just shows he's friendly.

Chandler: (to Rachel) We're friends, right?

Rachel: Yeah.

Chandler: ...And I'm guessing you don't keep details of my likes and dislikes where you work?

Rachel: No...(realising) Oh my God! You think that Gunther has a thing for me?

Joey: Yuh-huh! You're always the first person he serves when you go in, even if there's a queue of, like, twenty people. He always make sure you get the cleanest cup, and the least greasiest all adds up!

Rachel: Come on...I mean Gunther? I just never imagined it, you know? And they always say it's the quiet ones...I never thought of him in that way.

Monica: Well he's a nice enough guy...Perhaps a little creepy on the evidence of this show so far, but then aren't all guys?

Chandler: (off Monica's comment) Hi! Hi! I'm your boyfriend! I love you! You love me! I don't creep you out!

Monica: Of course not honey. (She hugs him, and indicates to the others that shows he does creep her out sometimes.)

Phoebe: Ooh! We're on again!

(Cut back to the TV. Phoebe and Rachel are sitting at two seperate tables. They're obviously waiting for Joey and Ross, to fight over Joey.)

Tom: (voiceover) Here we see two coffeehouse regulars. (A caption appears, indicating "RACHEL GREEN" and "PHEEBS BUFFET".)

Phoebe: My name is so much cooler spelled that way!

Tom: (voiceover) They appear to be part of a group of friends who hang out at Central Perk - why they can't find a cheaper place to hang out, I don't know - and their group appears to be one with some very peculiar ties in it.

(Ross enters. A caption appears, Jerry Springer style, saying "ROSS GELLER: DIVORCED THREE TIMES AND NOT EVEN THIRTY!"

Ross: (peeved) That's not fair!

Phoebe: (understanding) I know. They should never have asked your age.

Tom: (voiceover) Observe this man. He greets the two ladies in the corner and proceeds to buy them drinks. However, neither Rachel nor Pheebs seems to want Ross to sit with them.

Rachel: I had him yesterday!

Phoebe: Yes, but he sat with me twice the day before.

Rachel: Yeah, but I had to cope with that story about the amazing fossil find!

Ross: (eyeballing Rachel) It was an amazing fossil find!

Rachel: Yeah, you're right Mon. All guys are a little creepy.

(Joey enters Central Perk. He obviously knows about the cameras because he walks straight up to one and gives it a "How you doin'?" We see a caption: "JOEY TRIBBIBBIANNI".)

Joey: (confused) All these years I've been spelling my name wrong...I better call my agent.

Tom: (voiceover) Now, here's a popular guy. Joey is a professional layabout, who is an actor in his spare time. He's certainly charming, and better known to you and I as Mario from the city's VD campaign. (We see the famous poster, from "The One Where Underdog Gets Away".)

Joey: Aww, man! Not again! I've gotta pop back to my apartment, the phonecalls are bound to start any minute. (He leaves.)

(Time lapse.)

Ross: My trip to New Zealand.

Rachel: Yes.

Ross: The time we got snowed in at Christmas.

Rachel: Yes.

Ross: My first ever harmonica recital.

Rachel: Yes, Ross, all of the stories you've ever told me have been boring!

Chandler: (with one eye on TV) Guys, as much as we love to listen to you fight - and we do, really - I think Tom said they're about to show what happened on Wednesday night.

Phoebe: Oh yay! 'Cause I wasn't really paying much attention on Wednesday night. Either that or I was drunk.

Rachel: Wednesday night? When I was working late, Wednesday night? What happened Wednesday night?

[Scene: Inside Seventies Central Perk, night. It's obviously karaoke evening. The dancefloor is packed, and Phoebe is onstage, singing "Agadoo". (Note to American readers: this is probably the most hated novelty song ever made, I don't know if you had it inflicted on you over there...I can email you a copy if you want! Anyway, trust me, there's no way Phoebe would be singing it if she was sober. Especially as she's doing the dance that goes with it too!)]

Phoebe: A-ga-doo-doo-doo, push pineapples, shake the tree...

Phoebe: Yeah, I was drunk.

Tom: (voiceover) Karaoke night appears to be the one which pulls in the biggest crowd of the week, as punters queue up to make fools of themselves. (re: Phoebe) Apparently, this woman makes a career out of singing. We asked her afterwards why she took part.

(Having finished singing, Phoebe is being interviewed by Tom.)

Phoebe: (slurring) Well, y'know, the song is part of our culture, and the depth of the lyrics is just wanna keep listening to find out what happens if you shake the tree, d'you know what I mean? And I think...(pause) I've forgotten what I think. (She staggers off.)

Rachel: You know what? I'm gonna go for it. I'm gonna ask out Gunther. He's a nice enough chap, y'know? The sort of guy you can take back to your parents, and they'll be behind you all the way.

Monica: might wanna look away from the TV now then, Rach.

(Time lapse. There is a large circle of people on the dancefloor, with a spotlight in the middle.)

Tom: (voiceover) But by far the most spectacular aspect of karaoke night is the disco dancing competition, led here by our very own Gunther.

(Seventies Gunther steps into the circle and into the spotlight. His dancing is a cross between the way Phoebe runs, and the "routine" which Monica and Ross perform (see the respective episodes if you don't know what I mean). Well, it's outrageous to say the least, and all done to the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive".)

Rachel: (deadpan, in the famous style) Well, that's it then, I can't date a freak.

(More shots of Gunther dancing.)

Phoebe: See, I missed that 'cause I'm throwing up just out of shot.

Ending Credits

[Scene: Central Perk, present time. Gunther is serving, whilst Joey stands at the counter.]

Joey: ...All I'm saying is, you never know when you might wanna shake things up in here again. And when that time comes...

Gunther: ...Yes, Joey, you can have the couch if I ever throw it out.

Joey: Right. And what sort of price would that set me back?

Gunther: It'll be absolutely free.

Joey: Really?

Gunther: Sure. All you gotta do is convince Rachel to go out with me.

Joey: Sorry, that ain't ever gonna happen. Since she saw you dancing, she can't look at you without laughing.

Gunther: Damn! (He runs out the back and into his office, where he adds MY DANCING to the "What Rachel Doesn't Like" list.)