Monday, August 01, 2005

Hurrah for Lisa Kudrow. Once Friends got going, it quickly became apparent that as Phoebe she was the funniest yet most under-used member of the cast. With an off-kilter worldview, partially brought on by a) having an evil twin and b) having her mom commit suicide and then living in a dumpster, she still managed to keep smiling, while appearing simultaneously flakey and intelligent (something I wish I could pull off). I always thought that the writers of Friends would hook up Phoebe and Joey by the last episode (there had been enough foreshadowing for goodness sake - and I now realise I've lost all 2 of my cool points by revealing a too-familiar knowledge of Friends plot-history). However, Friends (finally) came to an end, and there was no Phoebe-Joey romance, probably because of the spin-off Joey (which I don't want to dwell on for obvious reasons - even I won't watch it).

But Lisa Kudrow has sashayed over to HBO (the grown-up US tv station that allows swearing, adult "themes" and occasional nudity) where she has her own sitcom, The Comeback. And it's a lot better than Joey. Lisa plays Valerie Cherish, an ageing actress (from a fictional 80s sitcom called "I'm It!"who has now been cast as "Aunt Sassy" (I can't say those two words without laughing for some reason) in a hot new sitcom about four young people sharing an apartment called Room and Bored, which is written by a team of script-writers (it sounds like she is drawing heavily on her Friends experiences). The cameras follow Valerie around ala reality show as she prepares for her "comeback". Unfortunately though, it's all a bit Alan Partridge/David Brent as it quickly transpires that almost everyone associated with the show hates Valerie, especially the writers (who make fun of her mercilessly behind her back). Room and Bored is an asinine show, full of cheap innuendo - for example, in one episode, Aunt Sassy gets to go on a date with "Big Dick Perkins" and worries that she won't look good in her "Beaver" (fur coat). Valerie justifies this by saying that everything on tv's dirty now, and it's classy-dirty, like Benny Hill. At first I found Valerie annoying and pathetic, then I felt sorry for her, but by the end of the episode I watched, I liked her.

It's not a new idea (Cybil Shepherd tried something similar a few years back, and Kirstie Alley's Fat Actress covers related ground) - but Lisa Kudrow makes this her own. The fact that Valerie never stops smiling, never EVER, particularly when she undergoes major snubs, makes her all the more endearing.


Sparky said...

I haven't warmed up to "The Comeback" yet, but I just saw "Happy Endings" last night and was vividly reminded that she was always the Friend with the most talent lurking beneath the surface. Her acting never has a "comedy mode" or a "dramatic mode" -- she just makes her unique collection of tics and mannerisms really work in whatever situation she's cropped into.

matty said...

I really enjoyed FAT ACTRESS, but THE COMEBACK is amazing to me. Tho, at times, it does make me cringe. I can't decide if I am meant to laugh or hide my eyes from the pain! LOL!

I hadn't thought of the comparison to Alan Partidge -- but I agree. ...Last night's drunken cell phone call to the writer of her show was classic! And the sly coaxing of her fan to come out on TV so she could have the adulation of her "public" air on her series was even more classic --- Lisa Kudrow rocks! Like FAT ACTRESS, it is a pretty brave role to take.

...I just wish HAPPY ENDINGS could have matched her performance. She was the only reason I cared for that film at all.

Vastly under-rated actress.