One night in 1995 my best friend and I went to a West Coast Video store (remember those?) to rent a VHS (remember THOSE?) for the evening. Having already seen all of their independent film options (remember independent films?), we headed over to the New Releases section where we found, among such timeless classics as “Friday” and “Die Hard with a Vengeance,” the “Microsoft Windows 95 Video Guide” starring Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston. Well, that settled it.
Oh, that’s right, Rachel and Chandler were going to teach us how to use computers that night!
Now, in 1995 I was a Freshman in college, a place that still had a “computer lab” where my friends and I would go and screw around on some ancient-looking computers (the type where the screens were all black and the typeface was orange). Mainly we would type to each other (while sitting next to each other) on this really basic looking interface, and them sometimes if our correspondences were particularly hilarious, someone would hit the “Print” key and print everything out on that green and white striped printer paper, the kind with the holes punched along the edges to help feed the paper into the machine.
At home, my brothers and I were still using a Brother Word Processor to type out all of our college reports and letters, although we would soon own a ‘home computer,’ so clearly I needed two very famous Friends to help teach me about the wonderful world of Windows 95.
This instructional video is really something. I mean, looking back at it now it just seems laughable to see Perry and Aniston act as though they’re being taught anything about computers; but I remember that in 1995 I found the video to be both entertaining AND illuminating.
In what they call the “world’s first Cyber Sitcom,” the two actors are “taken on an adventure in computing” which takes place in Bill Gates’ office and “along the way they meet a wacky bunch of Propellerheads and are introduced to the top 25 features of windows 95!” I’m guessing there were some legal limitations as to why they had to appear as themselves and not as their characters from “Friends”; but no matter- Matthew Perry’s demeanor and line delivery is no different from the how/what Chandler Bing would say anyway. For example, at one point Boris, the window washer (who also helps teach the Friends about “Plug and Plays”) bangs on the window and Perry asks “Could he BE any larger?” You see what I mean…
Here’s some of the fun, award-worthy dialogue you’ll hear during the 30-minute cyber sitcom/tutorial:
“Task bars, and email, and short cuts, oh my!” (yes, Perry and Aniston actually repeat this mantra a few times in first few minutes of screen time)
“Look, Matty, I’m computing!”
“Task bar? Is that anything like a Snickers bar?”
“So the Recycle Bin is like an enabler for the indecisive?”
“You can FAX through a computer?”
For some inexplicable reason, many of the jokes they make are often punctuated with a Seinfeld-ish slap of the bass.
I feel like I’ve already said too much. You should just watch this for yourself. Could computing BE any easier?
PS: This article was written on a Mac.