Of everyone who visited the “Friends” Fan Experience at New York-New York on Saturday, David Crane may have come away the most impressed.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “Looking at this Lego Central Perk, it feels like someone took your childhood home and made it out of Legos, with everything you ever loved and cared about.”
Coming from anyone else, that might sound deranged. But Crane, who created the sitcom with his longtime friend Marta Kauffman, spent 10 years of his life on that coffee shop set. Seeing it immortalized, full-size, in roughly 975,000 Lego bricks by artist Nathan Sawaya clearly left a mark.
“I just wanted to be here and see it, and I’m so glad I did,” Crane said. “Because it’s the most impressive, loving tribute to the show.”
In addition to hanging out at the Lego set, fans could take part in several interactive elements, pose for selfies on the famed orange couch and meet Katie, the capuchin monkey who starred as Marcel.
Phoebe’s Yellow Cab Escape Room, a trivia challenge set inside a fully operational taxi parked on the hotel’s Brooklyn Bridge, proved difficult even for Crane. The writer, who also co-created the Matt LeBlanc vehicle “Episodes,” was baffled by the presence of a blue bra on the cab’s front seat. (It was an homage to the undergarment Phoebe sacrificed so Joey could use the underwire to break into the locked taxi in the season three episode “The One Without the Ski Trip.”)
“I don’t watch the show, so a lot of these things, I haven’t seen in 25 years,” Crane admitted. “If anyone picked me for, like, some trivia contest, they would be making a huge mistake.”
The event, along with a new “Friends”-inspired show at the Fountains of Bellagio and a special performance by Blue Man Group, were part of the extended celebration of the show’s 25th anniversary.
“How much people care about the show, I mean, that just blows me away,” Crane said. “We started 25 years ago, but we finished 15 years ago. And the fact that we’re still here doing this, I mean, you don’t get that. What other show gets that? It’s amazing.”