Lisa Kudrow won an Emmy for her decade of portraying Phoebe on “Friends.” Since then she’s appeared in critically-acclaimed roles on film and television — including the lead in HBO’s “The Comeback,” in which she played narcissistic reality-TV star Valerie. On her current series, Showtime’s “Web Therapy,” she plays a online therapist who is self-interested, impatient, and generally not cut out to counsel anybody. Given that, we decided to give Lisa a chance to turn the tables and offer some actual good advice, in response to your questions.
Rico Gagliano: Thanks for coming. So, on the show you play Fiona, she’s a therapist who gives her patients sort of short therapy sessions over the internet. And she’s really not a good therapist, Lisa.
Lisa Kudrow: No.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Does she even have a license?
Lisa Kudrow: She does.
Brendan Francis Newnam: I know that she was a banker…
Lisa Kudrow: Right — she was in finance, not even a banker. Slept her way to the middle, and then when she was about to get fired, sued one of the guys she was having an affair with for sexual harassment, while being married to her husband, who it turns out is gay.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, we find that out.
Lisa Kudrow: She is accredited, because she got that online.
Rico Gagliano: Just the person you want for a therapist. She’s kind of in it for the money, basically.
Lisa Kudrow: Yeah, or anything else you have to offer. And the thrill of manipulating someone.
Rico Gagliano: Now, you’ve said you were interesting in playing “a flawed character.” Congratulations.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, you succeeded.
Rico Gagliano: This would be two very flawed lead characters in a row for you. What attracts you to these kind of people?
Lisa Kudrow: Well, my favorite kind of flaw is someone who has no idea how they’re coming off. Like, they think they’re pulling it off. Like, you know, Valerie’s chirpy sort of “It’s all good” – even though you’ve got spikes coming out of you! It’s not all good.
Rico Gagliano: But you seem like a perfectly lovely person —
Lisa Kudrow: Thank you, I am.
Brendan Francis Newnam: No flaws at all.
Rico Gagliano: — Why would you play… I mean, why do these characters seem to come to you?
Lisa Kudrow: Probably that basic fear that I am missing something that everybody else sees, that I don’t.
Brendan Francis Newnam: This show is also kind of a satire about how the internet had invaded peoples’ lives and kind of short-circuits normal human interactions. Yet, this show was launched on the internet.
Lisa Kudrow: It’s the kind of idea that was too unconventional. You could never walk into a studio or a network and say “Here’s an idea: It’s just two people talking!”
Rico Gagliano: But it does seem ironic to do a satirical show about the Internet that you launched on the Internet.
Lisa Kudrow: Right, and making fun of the Internet at the same time as we’re using the Internet, because it’s something new, and we couldn’t have done it anywhere else. So thank you internet… and hey, you’ve gotta get it together soon, organize yourself, and make some rules.
Rico Gagliano: All right, well look, we’ve established that we wouldn’t ask Fiona for advice, but a lot of our audience members sent in questions for you to answer. Are you ready for these?
Lisa Kudrow: Yeah. Let’s see how many times I bump into Fiona Wallace as myself, which is horrible.
Brendan Francis Newnam: We’ll see behind the mask. Or, maybe there’s no mask at all.
Rico “Credit Sitter” Gagliano
Rico Gagliano: All right, here’s something from Morgan in Los Angeles. We thought it would be good to run this by somebody who works in Hollywood. Morgan writes, “I was raised to sit thought the credits at the end of a movie as a way to acknowledge the work done by the crew. Often, my friends will want to leave as soon as the credits start. How rude is it to make them sit or wait outside while I watch the credits all the way through.”
Lisa Kudrow: I think you’re always rude when you make another adult do anything. So, I think you just let your friends know beforehand, “Listen I sit through the credits all the way.” And then they can decide where you should meet them afterward.
Rico Gagliano: Are you a credit-sitter?
Lisa Kudrow: No, I’m not.
Rico Gagliano: You don’t sit through the credits? You must have friends who you quite often see in the credits of movies.
Lisa Kudrow: Yeah, I might. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the work!
Brendan Francis Newnam: Like, what makes you sit, Rico?
Rico Gagliano: I like watching the credits to see all the crew members who put their nicknames in quotation marks in the credits.
Brendan Francis Newnam: See, I didn’t even know that happens.
Lisa Kudrow: That happens.
Rico Gagliano: So you have like a key grip who goes by John “Big Trucks” Smith. That is totally worth my time.
“One Direction Just Got Out Of The Shower”
Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, so we have another question. This comes from Angie Rebanock in Long Beach, California. Angie writes, “I recently had a friend of my second grader’s over. Later, I found a One Direction magazine that the friend had defaced by scribbling… shall we say… nude female and male anatomy over pictures of the band members.” One Direction’s a boy’s band. “I found it because my three year old brought it to me and said quote, ‘One Direction just got out of the shower!’ My question: do I tell the mother of the friend about the graffiti?”
Lisa Kudrow: I have more questions.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Okay, we can make up answers.
Lisa Kudrow: I mean, first is: How do you know that the friend drew on it? Did you see that happen?
Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh, and you think it’s not this kid? Interesting.
Rico Gagliano: The kid blamed it on the friend?
Lisa Kudrow: Cause one time I did that. I assumed another kid did something, it turned out it was my son. So: Are you sure? Did you see it happen?
But, if the other kid did draw on it, you could call the mother to let her know, “Your child left their magazine. I don’t know if you want it or not, but there’s interesting drawings… your child’s an interesting artist.”
Rico Gagliano: He’s a budding Botticelli.
Brendan Francis Newnam: “And I learned about your husband’s anatomy,” or something. “These are interesting pictures!” I’m gonna add another issue, which is: One Direction? Really? Is this what you want your kids to be listening to?
Rico Gagliano: Yeah.
Lisa Kudrow: Well, this one’s making fun of One Direction.
Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s true. I kind of like this kid.
Lisa Kudrow: But I think the mother needs to know. I think the other mother needs to know, but not in an accusatory, or you know…
Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, it’s just like,”here are the facts.”
Lisa Kudrow: “Here’s information.”
Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, there you go Angie.
A question not to ask your date
Rico Gagliano: Here’s something from Dirk Manly in Boise, Idaho, who first of all writes, “Yes, that is my real name, and feel free to use it, because people will think I made it up.”
Brendan Francis Newnam: Dirk Manly in Boise.
Rico Gagliano: I like this guy. Dirk asks, “When should you tell the person you are dating that you are also dating other people. Or should you? And is it rude for the other person to ask?”
Lisa Kudrow: Okay, and you like this guy? Is it rude for someone I’m dating, working on a relationship with, to ask me… the gall to ask me?… if I’m dating other people? I take issue with that moment of the question.
Brendan Francis Newnam: That was my reaction when this came over the transom, but then, you know, some of the producers were saying “Well look, what if you’re seeing someone, and you go on a couple dates…”
Rico Gagliano: Yeah, what if it’s early days in the relationship?
Brendan Francis Newnam: You haven’t gotten to the level where you’re going out, and so would it be presumptuous for you to say “I’m dating other people.”
Rico Gagliano: It’s almost saying “Hey, this is getting serious.”
Lisa Kudrow: Yeah, I think that’s awkward. I do think that’s awkward.
I think the bigger news is when you decide that you don’t want to see other people. And then you let that person know, “I’m thinking I don’t need to see other people anymore. What are you thinking?” And I think that’s what feels like is missing from this person is, the other person, that their thoughts, feelings count at all.
Brendan Francis Newnam: That is true. “Is it rude for the other person to ask?” I like that one. “How dare you?”
Lisa Kudrow: “If I’m out of line, then I swear I’ll never ask you another question again, just please don’t leave me.”
Rico Gagliano: Oh man.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Dirk, I think you have some guidance there.
Rico Gagliano: A lot of it. Probably more than you wanted to hear.
Lisa Kudrow: Okay.
Parlor games with Nora Ephron
Rico Gagliano: Here’s our last question, we ask this to all of our etiquette guests. What is the most memorable get-together you have been to Lisa? Who, what, where, details please?
Lisa Kudrow: I think one of them that I remember, I was so happy to be included, Nora Ephron had people over, and we played parlor games, and I was good at them. So it’s about me, and I felt good about myself.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh obviously. Clearly, yeah.
Lisa Kudrow: But the most recent one that was really great was Courtney Cox tried to have everybody from [“Friends”] over because we all hadn’t been in the same room in many, many, many years.
Rico Gagliano: Was this for a DVD extra, or just for fun?
Lisa Kudrow: No, just for personal use. Just for us to see each other. So that was really nice.
Rico Gagliano: Well, Lisa Kudrow, we didn’t expect to wrap this up on such a heartwarming note, but here we are.
Brendan Francis Newnam: I know, that’s right, we were thinking of something acerbic, and self-interested.
Rico Gagliano: See, you’re not Fiona at all, you’re a perfect etiquette guest.
Lisa Kudrow: I am? Oh good!