Even though he’s been a regular on five TV series, Vince Ventresca, BS’89, is still best known for his role as Fun Bobby on NBC’s hit sitcom Friends.
“More people saw those two episodes than anything else I’ve done,” says Ventresca, an Indianapolis native who lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Dianne (Shiner) Ventresca, BS’88.
Fun Bobby made his first appearance on Friends in the season one episode titled “The One with the Monkey.” He was the love interest of Monica (played by Courteney Cox). The life of the party, Fun Bobby is known and loved by all. He arrives late to a New Year’s Eve party, revealing that his grandfather had died, bringing everyone to tears.
“Not a lot of people remember that Friends, in its first season, was [only] a moderate hit. All of [the actors] were relatively unknown, with the exception of Courteney Cox,” recalls Ventresca. “At the end of [my episode], producer David Crane said to me, ‘We’ll have Fun Bobby back.’ I was like, ‘Great.’ I’ve been told ‘We’ll have you back’ a lot … Whenever they say that they never have you back.”
Crane kept his word and brought Ventresca back the following season. In a season two episode titled “The One With Russ,” Monica gives Fun Bobby another chance. However, it’s revealed that he’s an alcoholic. Monica successfully helps him to stop drinking. But once he does, he’s no longer fun to be around. In fact, Chandler (Matthew Perry) calls him “Ridiculously Dull Bobby.” Ironically, Monica begins drinking heavily around him, so she can have fun in his presence. As a result, Fun Bobby thinks she has a drinking problem and breaks up with her.
Between the first and second seasons, Friends’ popularity skyrocketed. At the height of its fame, the cast members were making $1 million per episode. For Ventresca, witnessing the changes between the two seasons was the difference between night and day.
“It was like I’d been to a different planet,” he says. “There were metal detectors, there were helicopters … The set was packed with people. [The cast] didn’t change. They were an incredible group, and they were lucky to go through it together.”
Ventresca confessed he was a little intimidated working with the show’s stars.
“I pretended I wasn’t, but I was,” he says. “They were all such great people. Courteney was so welcoming. She included me in the group.”
Fun Bobby has become a cult character in his own right. Somewhere in North Carolina, you can cure your hangover with the “Fun Bobby” burrito.
When questioned about what Fun Bobby would be doing now, Ventresca laughs and says: “Funny you should ask.”
The actor has written a spec script where it’s revealed that Fun Bobby has returned to his Midwestern hometown to care for his ailing parents. Stay tuned.