Lisa Valerie Kudrow is an American actress, comedian, writer and producer. She gained worldwide recognition for her ten-season run as Phoebe Buffay in the television sitcom Friends, for which she received many accolades, including an Emmy Award and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. She went on to produce, write and star in the short-lived HBO series The Comeback, which was revived nine years later and is set to air in November 2014. She also is currently starring in Web Therapy which is in its third season on Showtime. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class – Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program for the show in 2012. She is also one of the executive producers of the TLC reality program Who Do You Think You Are. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Program for the series in 2012. Away from television, Kudrow has also appeared in many films, including Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, The Opposite of Sex, Analyze This and its sequel Analyze That, Dr. Dolittle 2, Wonderland, Happy Endings, P.S. I Love You, Bandslam, Hotel for Dogs, Easy A, and Neighbors.
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Hi guys. My show "The Comeback" is airing on HBO starting on November 9. Here at reddit NYC with Victoria helping me out in person, AMA.
Edit: Thanks everyone for your questions. And I hope you like this next installment of The Comeback.
Hey....how you doin?
did you ever find out what they were feeding smelly cat?
No. Good question!
Which actor that you've met or worked with has been the most funny off-set?
See, now, 20 people would be insulted... but because I spent 10 years laughing hysterically at Matthew Perry off-set, it's Matthew Perry. And not laughing at him, laughing with him, sorry!
What did Ross / David Schwimmer do that made you genuinely laugh the most?
Oh, the bagpipes!
Ross played "Celebrate," the Kool & the Gang song, on bagpipes! And he was SO fully committed!
How much of Phoebe's musical compositions were adlibbed? Did you have any hand in the song writing?
Also, you were my first celebrity crush! Its been killing me all these years, so I have to know. If a random 12 year old fan had sent you a letter asking you out on a date, would you have said yes?
First of all, Phoebe's song lyrics were not ad libbed. The writers wrote them. And I got to come up with the tunes.
Because I play guitar so poorly it would be too hard to learn how to play that badly.
How sweet you wanted to ask me on a date when you were 12! I was either getting married, just married, pregnant, or trying to raise a little boy while working, and didn't have a lot of free time for dates.
Would you say it has been your day, your week, your month, or even your year?
I would. I would have to say that.
What has been you oddest fan encounter?
Oh my god!
At a restaurant, someone came over to me, very timidly, and said: "Excuse me, I'm sorry, are you...? Are you....Dionne Warwick?"
I responded with: "No."
Hello Mrs. Kudrow! I have a question for you about the Friends series. Was Janice's voice really that annoying in real life or was that staged? Thanks so much!
Janice was played by Maggie Wheeler, and that is not her real voice.
She's actually a gifted songstress.
Hey Lisa!! Huge fan! Been waiting for your AMA forever.
Phoebe and Ross were my favourite Friends characters.
So here are the Friends questions:
1) Halloween Party.
2) I'll go for it. A whole season, because to spend that much time with those people again would be heaven!
3) We all were. Thanks for saying only slightly.
4) Happy birthday Tom.
I enjoyed your brief cameo in Neighbors as the school's dean. You were only in a few scenes but they were all hilarious. Do you have any funny stories from your time working with Seth Rogan?
It was just fun. I remember that. And I remember feeling like it was okay to ask him if he would be in The Comeback and he said yes, so look for him in episode 3.
Hi Lisa, who did you prefer playing Ursula or Phoebe?
Both. But they were both fun for completely different reasons.
Hi Lisa! I am a huge fan of yours. In fact, when I was in the eighth grade in 2004, I wrote you a 3-page letter. I have no recollection of what is was about, but I remember that you mailed me back an autographed picture that I thought was real for about five years, haha. I still have it framed!
Anyways, I am just wondering in what ways would you consider yourself similar to Phoebe? In what ways would you say you’re different from her character?
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this!
Well, first that picture was real. I signed it.
Similar to Phoebe, mmm... (minutes passing, hahaa)
I try to be as optimistic as she is. And in what was am I different from her? I wish I was as optimistic.
Do you still play the guitar? Have you gotten better or worse?
About the same. Haven't picked it up since we finished the show. ^Hahaha!
Why did HBO give Comeback... a comeback?
They thought it would be fun to see Valerie again.
Don't Romy and Michele have another reunion coming up?
No, sorry to say.
What is the funniest thing to have happened backstage on Friends?
One day we all brought our dogs to work. And I thought I left my dog in my room, with the door closed, I was downstairs on the stage rehearsing, and all of a sudden, my dog, a little poodle, came running and JUMPED onto my lap and stayed on my lap for the rest of the scene - for the rest of the run-through of that scene, in front of the producers and all of the writers!
Last time I brought my dog to work.
Do you still have people ask you to sing smelly cat? Do you?
I have a LOT of people ask.
I've not done it.
My dad is a very serious and stern man. I am an adult now, I can only remember him laughing twice in my life. Once at the fart scene in Blazing Saddles, and the second time at the Smelly cat song. So, my question is, how did that come about? Was it written for you, or did you have any input to it?
The writers wrote it, I wrote the tune, and had a little help from Chryssie Hynde. She was amazing.
How do you imagine the life of Phoebe and Mike in 2014?
Oh yeah! I honestly think Phoebe would be a super-competitive tiger mom. She doesn't do anything by half-measure.
What is your favourite animated show?
Right now? Bojack Horseman.
Hi! When you were filming the scene in Friends where Pheobe flips out and starts swearing at the Pacman machine, what were you actually saying? Actually swearing or something else?
Oh! I don't know if I was allowed to actually swear. We pre-shot that part, and I think I remember Kevin Bright, our executive producer, laughing and saying "I know, but no one should even be able to read it on your lips."I think I remember it happening.
If you had to pick out one episode of Friends as being your favourite overall, which one would it be?
The Halloween party that Sean Penn appeared in. For a lot of reasons. Number one was it was the first show we shot after 9/11. And that whole week, while driving in LA, people would pull up, and give me a very sad look, and a quiet "thank you" for making them laugh.
Hey I'm a HUGE fan of yours. I think it's so cool that you got a degree in bio before you moved into acting. Do you feel your degree helped you with any aspect of your life now, or was it a waste of time in your eyes looking back?
Also, on the cbs Sunday morning interview you mentioned that you weren't ready to stop making episodes of Friends. Was this the main feelings of the group of you, or was everyone else pretty much ready to move on?
Mmm. NOT a waste of time, not even a little bit! It came in handy, when I was studying improvisation. Because what i learned from studying biology is that nature doesn't judge. And when you're improvising, neither should you.
We agreed as a group to move on.
I remember seeing an In Style photoshoot you did many years ago, and in every picture you had half your face covered. Was this an artistic choice, or did you have an irritated eye or a pimple or something?
That is a really interesting question. I don't remember ever needing to cover half my face, so... I am gonna guess that was an editorial decision?!
Hi Lisa, thanks for doing this AMA! Two quick questions- Do you wish friends would have lasted longer? Why or Why not?
I loved doing FRIENDS. I would have been fine if we did it 10 more years, and it was great that we finished when we did, because I've loved everything I've done since.
What's your favorite moment from being on The Simpsons?
Oh, actually BEING at the Simpsons and recording a voice! That was my favorite, of many moments joined together!
Matt LeBlanc once talked about having made his 'fuck you money,' as in, he now had enough to say fuck off to just about anything(though he was speaking specifically to choosing roles). How has a fabulous paycheck changed your appetites for work and roles?
Also, thanks for doing this, and have a good one.
Matt always says things so simply and clearly.
Hello Lisa. How hard was it to keep a straight face when your acting partners were Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro in Analyze This and Analyze That?
VERY hard. Both hilarious in different ways. And you're forgetting Harold Ramis directed!
Hey Lisa! Thanks for doing this AMA!
I told friends and family you were doing this and they jumped at the chance to participate.
As briefly as possible:
From my mom
Initially from my friend put forth by me
1) Mmm, okay. That was a profound experience. I actually got to have dinner with all of them that night. And the grandson Tomek came to visit in LA, and we are still in touch. I'm sorry to report that Bolislaw passed away a few years ago.
2) Hi Sydney.
3) Heehee. There was not a huge difference in the character from the play to the film! Which is a testament to the consistency that was Michelle Weinberger.
How did you prepare for the Friends role? Did you understand the character of Phoebe right away, or did you have to elaborate it for some time?
Well, the audition piece was the monologue you see in the pilot. So that told me a lot about the character. And I thought it would be funny if this person didn't think that any of the stuff that happened to her was a big deal, and didn't that stuff happen to everybody?
Hey Lisa, good to have you here! Who are your greatest inspirations when it comes to acting? The Comeback is great, can't wait for it.
Well, of course, Meryl Streep. Dustin Hoffman. You know, these are people I can't stop watching for their total commitment and effortless performances...
What is your favorite season of Friends?
I think 1. Because it was the first one.
Hi Lisa! Any regrets in your career?
Hi Ms. Kudrow! Thanks for doing this AMA. I saw an interview where you said you actually don't like to sing. However, if you were forced to do karaoke which song would you choose?
I did karaoke once.
And I performed "Hava Nagila" because i thought it would be funny.
And it was funny. For three seconds.
Then it was torture. For 3 minutes.
Can you draw ?
And I hate that I cannot draw!
Hi Lisa, do you ever wish you'd done further study in science? (or maybe in the future?)
I miss science.
I do wish I could've studied it more. I always say: "Yeah, in the future, I will do more."
Hi, Lisa! First of all, thank you for Phoebe. Friends has brought me so much joy and kept me laughing when I dealt with cancer as a teenager. My question: You were the only one of the six Friends who had a child during the show's run. Was that difficult? Was it harder for them to relate to you as a mom? ...Thanks!
First of all, I'm glad we were able to keep you laughing during a tough time.
Here's what was difficult about having a child: when he visited the set, it was hard to be in character. Because i didn't want him to ever experience me as anything OTHER than his mother.
Hey Lisa! Loved you on Friends! Was just wondering: what was your favorite song to perform on the show?
Okay: they all actually make me laugh really hard, somebody put them all together on YouTube, because I'd forgotten all the songs, and every time a new one came on, I laughed out loud, but I really liked the one for the kids, that starts "Oh the cow in the meadow goes moo..."
Hello Lisa! Thanks a lot for taking the time and doing this, the Reddit community thanks you :) My question is, how often do you watch re-runs of Friends episodes and reminisce about how you and the rest of the cast influenced a generation?
You are the best, thank you!
I rarely watch re-runs. And I should watch them, because I never remember what the show was about. And so when we DO get together, shows do come up, we do reminisce about fun and funny things that happened.
How do you keep your face looking so great? You have not aged a year since Friends.
It's a matter of opinion. But I sincerely thank you.
What is your favorite dessert?
Chocolate chip cookies.
I'm really just here to hunt down the person who took my username without the underscores. But since this is an AMA... What is the worst advice you've ever received?
PS, I think you're phenomenal and I love your style of comedy - thanks for answering questions!
After The Comeback was cancelled, one person told me "I think your mistake - listen, fine that you wrote it, but you shouldn't have been in it. Too soon after FRIENDS."
I think that's the worst advice, don't you?
What's your favorite ride in Disney?
Is there any chance you'll make an appearance in Disney's "Finding Dory" as a relative of Dory's? Please?
I don't know what any of that means.
what were your thoughts when you were walking outside of Monica's apartment for the last scene? btw it's after midnight here and I have a test tomorrow but I'm waiting for you to answer one of my questions so please do so I can go sleep:)
My thoughts - one thought, really: This is too much.
Good night! Good luck on your test!
Do you think your time at The Groundlings was time well invested? Also, what was it like working with Conan O'Brian in the early part of your career?
The Groundlings was HUGELY important to me.
I think writing sketches is a fantastic writing exercise.
The most fun was working with Conan. Even more fun than working with Conan was watching him onstage, improvising, because he's lightning fast and ridiculously funny. Really inspirational.
You are stuck in an airport for three hours before your flight leaves. How do you pass the time?
Oh! Listen to an audiobook. And play a game.
What is your favorite kind of celery?
Oh! Cooked and simmered into something else.
Were we ever meant to feel sorry for Valerie?
Because I felt bad for her on so many occasions (especially when she brought the cookies to the office) even though I feel it was written that we should have been laughing at her.
No, perfectly appropriate to feel bad! Also appropriate to laugh. No one invited her down there to bring them fresh slice & bake "homemade" cookies, so she could get better writing for her character.
Do people ever refer to you as Phoebe? And whats been the most awkward moment when they have.
Thanks Phoebe! :)
It's only awkward when someone says "Phoebe"... and then adds "because I don't know your real name." And THEN says "I haven't actually seen the show, but my friends say I should say that to you."
And THEN asks for a picture.
Hi Lisa! Are you a wacky in real life too?
Sorry, but I don't think I am.
Hi Lisa, what are your favorite tv shows lately?
I like Mindy Kaling, the Mindy Project. Oh! The Skip Gates Finding Your Roots show on PBS! (I know, I'm plugging another genealogy show, but...)
I like Getting On, that's on HBO. And GIRLS, I love. The Good Wife, Elementary... The Paradise. And that'll be good for a while.
I find your, and David Schwimmer's, goofy antics hilarious, how was it working with him and do you have any particularly funny memories where you two interacted?
Take care of yourself! :)
It wasn't just Schwimmer but all the guys did this, but Schwimmer made me laugh a lot when he did it...
I would start to speak, he would pump his hand in the air and say "shh shh shh." Still makes me laugh!
Hi, Lisa! What's the strangest place you've been recognized? Also, how was your Halloween? Thanks for doing this AMA!
Um, strangest place was on a beach in Bali. And completely uneventful.
Hi. Do you have a favourite videogame?
I have games on my iPad. And right now I'm really having fun with Two Dots. But one of my favorites for all time is Drop 7.
clooney or jackman?
How did you get into character to play Ursula, Phoebe's twin sister?
Oh, believe it or not, Ursula felt VERY different to me, from Phoebe!
Um... for Ursula, whatever I had to say was cloaked in not-fully-understanding-what-I-was-responding-to.
What is the last movie you have watched and can you recommend it?
Last thing I watched was... A FEW GOOD MEN! Cuz if it's on, I watch it.
Hey Lisa any funny story of you and Kathy Griffin from The Groundlings days that you could share?
That I could share?
Not that Kathy holds back anything... but I do.
Hey, Lisa. My mom loved your show so I grew up watching it. I played along with you on episodes you played guitar.
What are your hobbies outside of acting?
Also what's your favorite cereal?
Oh my god. I don't have hobbies. I watch TV.
And my favorite cereal: I really like Lucky Charms.
What is your favorite kind of sandwich?
Grilled cheese. Lots of butter, lots of American cheese, on egg bread.
I was at a bit of a low point this year but your Vassar commencement speech made a huge impact (that I saw on YouTube). Thank you. I love my major at college but I know acting is not a choice for me but succumbing to a compulsion. What is your advice to someone who is to get into acting kind of late? (after undergrad) with not a lot of prior experience. I have 2 years left.
That's exactly when I started acting. 22, just finished undergraduate studies in biology. But you read my speech, so you know that. It's not kind of late.
How do you feel that TV has changed now compared to how it was in the 90s?
There's so much more to choose from, and so much fantastic stuff to choose from. I really think the quality keep going up and up, as there is more competition. I think it's fantastic, a really exciting time in TV.
Hey Lisa, how's your week going? :)
Fine. Busy! Got a show premiering on November 9. You know!
Hi Ms. Kudrow!
As I'm your self-proclaimed #1 fan, I am super excited for The Comeback Comeback. Since this is a time of miracles for many of us, could we count on the sequels for your other projects, especially my personal favorites: The Opposite of Sex and Easy A? I guess that at least the first one should be doable by Is or Isn't, right...?
Also, although I realize you may not have the control over that, but, considering that you have family in Gdynia, Poland (only 10 miles from where I live!), this should be somewhat personal; could you, please, make sure that we can order Web Therapy (and, hopefully, The Comeback) merchandise from overseas?
Thank you and best wishes
Hey Stanislaw. I didn't produce those movies. Sorry. Web Therapy, though, should be available in Poland - someone there just bought the format rights, with a fantastic actress playing Fiona Wallice. You can't get merchandise...?!? What?! My partner Dan will be enraged.
Who would you pick to play you in your Biopic?
I have no idea, I've never thought about that. But do you know who played my character Michelle Weinberger in the prequel to Romy & Michele's High School Reunion? Katherine Heigl.