In Praise of Phoebe From Friends

Phoebe Buffay
Pheebs.

Praise was high for Joey from Friends, but we’ve got to do another one of these to hail Lisa Kudrow’s brilliant performance as quirky oddball Phoebe Buffay. She’s as relentlessly funny and brilliant as Matt LeBlanc during all 10 seasons, whereas the other characters (Chandler, Monica, Ross, and Rachel… not so much Rachel, as she’s always charming) have a habit of getting annoying in later seasons.

Not Pheebs! No, she’s there with her weird behaviour from day one until day none. She possesses a keen otherworldliness and self-absorbed eccentricity which often leaves her very much within her own world. Buffay is also incredibly upbeat, enthusiastic, and magnanimous – all personality traits we feel are important to praise in this era of greed and negativity. Thusly, we’re celebrating the funny lady today with this here post thing.

Phoebe Buffay

Following on from Philomena Cunk last week, we’re highlighting the lack of funny women in the world. Here’s another example. Lisa Kurdrow is funny. What gives? We just ruined our whole delusional argument again! Even as a ditzy blonde, Buffay manages to dominate a lot of Friends with her manic behaviour.

It’s all about the eccentricities, too, and whilst the show’s writers did an excellent job coming up with all the strange stuff who becomes involved with, it’s Kudrow who makes the part work. Buffay could have been an annoyance (Monica, for instance, is highly likeable in the early series, but a shrieking annoyance by series eight), but is only ever endearing. The upbeat positivity and enthusiasm is a big part of that.

Considered the “crazy lady” she’s also quite prone to manic outbursts, usually in the form of high-pitched screaming (plenty of that in the video below). There’s also the disastrous nature of her music, with songs like Smelly Cat being fun enough, but accompanied by inept strumming of her guitar and her often often ghastly, brutally honest catalogue of other tracks terrifying the bejeezus out of everyone.

Ultimately she’s just great fun, though, so we’ve done this homage here today to honour what would have been her 355th birthday. We don’t know how old she’d be, we just took a wild guess on that one.

Kudrow

Famously, Kudrow landed the part of Roz in Frasier but was let go after filming the pilot as the producers thought she wasn’t quite up to it. Peri Gilpin picked up the role instead. Undeterred, Kudrow then landed Phoebe in Friends (which was an unexpected hit, whereas Frasier was expected to be – and indeed was – one of the biggest shows during the 1990s).

Now looking fab at 54, since friends she’s experimented with some interesting TV shows, including an innovative 2008 series called Web Therapy which launched online and was improvised by Kudrow. She’s also starred in a whole batch of films and has been a speaker at universities and colleges supporting young students… so good on her!

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