Lisa Kudrow has made a living playing–let’s call them–alternatively minded characters like Helen Hunt’s distracted waitress in Mad About You, the wannabe Bob Dylan of “Smelly Cat” and half of the accidentally awesome Romy and Michele. You can’t call them ditzy because Kudrow’s intrinsic intelligence shines too brightly through them for that, so while her best-known characters aren’t always present, they are clearly someplace special in their minds. That’s part of Kudrow’s immense charm.
Kudrow is making news now for the welcome resuscitation of her show, The Comeback. She plays Valerie Cherish, a character that found life on the Internet long after the show was originally cancelled in 2005. In fact The Comeback‘s popularity across the web and streaming services led to its rebirth. (The madding–or gifing–crowd really does have power, in some places.) Kudrow has told interviewers that she doesn’t know what a GIF is. But she does. She says she doesn’t spend a lot of time with social media, but she knows the game. Sometimes she tweets, she told Engadget, and sometimes “it’s my office,” she says honestly. And Kudrow knows the single most important lesson of creative endeavor in the new digital media world: “I think also what’s fantastic about like a web series kind of thing is … you can kind of do whatever you want and then you see if it works or not.” If she wants to play unawares with Bill Maher, then the Vassar graduate Kudrow is surely just performing.