The 'How you doing?' line of Joey in Friends is very famous. English is my third language. I seem it's general conversation dialogue. What's so special about it?

3 Answers 3


  Joey [Source]

From Wikipedia:

Joey is extremely promiscuous with women, often relying on his catchphrase pickup line
"How you doin'?".

[Watch a How You Doin'? compilation]


The expression How you doin'? is a modification of the English How are you doing? which is another way of saying "How are you?".

This phrase seems to be used by stereotypical mobsters in popular culture, who usually were of foreign descent and so would pronounce expressions with an accent. For example, Tony Soprano in the third season (the 5th quote in Another Toothpick):

Tony Soprano: How you doin'? I got new shoes. Soles are a little heavy

Joey does the same (probably a reference to his foreign descent) but in his case, the sentence is a pick-up line, a conversation starter for his die hard promiscuity with women.

  • 6
    I would say that the phrase is simply a stereotype of NY and NJ machismo culture (of which mobsters were a part).
    – DQdlM
    Dec 20, 2012 at 14:54
  • 5
    I always thought the idea was Joey is so attractive he doesn't have to say anything interesting/funny in order to pick up women.
    – Jac
    Dec 20, 2012 at 18:48
  • 1
    @DQdlM What makes you think that's the case?
    – Alenanno
    Dec 20, 2012 at 18:49
  • 2
    @Jac Exactly... Only Joey can pick up women by saying "how are you" :D
    – Alenanno
    Dec 20, 2012 at 18:50
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    @Alenanno I grew up in NJ and I always associated that phrase (or similar variants) with just the stereotypical NY/NJ male not just mobsters. Now if you say it while wearing a fedora and carrying a violin case, that's another story...
    – DQdlM
    Dec 20, 2012 at 19:11

As others have pointed out, the phrase in itself is very innocuous and mundane, but it's mostly the WAY he says it that adds the flirting overtones. Notice how when he usually says it he narrows his eyes and raises his chin in what he must believe is a seductive look.

I also think it says 2 things about his character:

  1. He is not smart enough to think up anything more original
  2. And/or he believes he is so good looking he doesn't have to say anything more to attract women
  • 1
    Well, he did come up with the Europe story. Sep 27, 2019 at 17:37

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