Lisa Kudrow Tells Us She’s Working on Ideas for a Possible Season 3 of The Comeback

Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback

After the brilliant second season of HBO’s The Comeback left us in tears and wanting more, we were anxious to know more about the show that, not only has kept its devoted fan base for nearly a decade, but served as the vehicle for her greatest performance yet. Here she delves deeper into the history the series and, to our excitement, reveals she and Michael Patrick King are working on a ideas for a third season of The Comeback and there’s more Valerie Cherish to come.

When Friends was ending, did you plan to become more creatively involved in the projects you’d be working on?

At the time, I thought I would always be able to do independent films, not even guessing that independent films would go away. So I thought I’d do that, and if I want to do TV again, I’m really going to have to be creatively involved. I thought I better get more used to the idea that I’m an actual producer and not just someone with vanity deal because I’m on a show. You get the deal because you’re on a show and then you actually have to do the work to demonstrate otherwise. So that was the goal, and I was really not expecting to do a show that soon after Friends; it just happened. I thought, Oh well, it’s happening now, what can I do? But then I thought, maybe it’s okay because it’s not even trying to be anything like Friends—that would be a disaster.

Were you concerned that it being so soon after Friends and Sex and the City people would be expecting something much more connected to those shows?

Yeah, part it was that people were expecting it to be Phoebe in Manolos, and it of course had nothing to do with that, nor would it. We wouldn’t try to do anything like that. It was just an idea that came up and we started talking and it was, well this is great, let’s do this. We weren’t expecting there to be a huge audience for it, that’s why we were so happy to be at HBO because it had always been the place where the requirement was not for everybody on earth to want to tune in, just their subscribers. It just seemed like the perfect place to be in at the time.

Did you and Michael have one singular inspiration for Valerie or was she a composite of different people you’ve known? Was it the same for the peripheral characters like Paulie G?

Valerie is a composite of different people that I brought to her and Michael brought to her. We just kept track of all the little  humiliations of life you wouldn’t want caught on camera and then broadcast. Nowadays you’re thankful if there’s no camera around because it’s expected. My only experience on a sitcom was just how the schedule works, when the network panics then what happens, that kind of thing, but Michael had run shows and been in the writers room of many shows for years and years. Then the writers we had come on they also had a ton of experience—and they all thought they knew exactly who Paulie G was. Everyone had a different idea and they were certain it was that person, but that’s how many Paul G types you can imagine existed. So they informed a lot of that part of the story. 

How did you conceive of the show’s format and did you know from the start that you’d want the show to consist of the raw footage from a reality show?

Our idea started with, Oh my god reality TV, I can’t believe it’s happening. People are signing up for this!  What a mistake, do they know what they’re getting into? We were initially going to call it Raw Footage and it was going to be the raw footage from a reality shoot, so just the unmanipulated footage. Then we realized we couldn’t do that, so we thought it was just going to be one camera all the time, but we immediately thought we couldn’t do that. Finally we decided it would just be a rush assembly, so it wasn’t perfectly produced and manipulated. We really wanted to demonstrate that, although the editing is not manipulated much, you could see how much the producer is working things. So it has to be shot this way and that’s what drove the look of it. It wasn’t, oh let’s do something different.

When we were talking about it, we thought, well can it be like this? And then we looked at each other and went, that’s different, I haven’t seen anything like this, can it be done? How do we make it clear what’s happening? Are people going to understand what this is? Then we just figured it out because that’s what was important to us, to tell that part of the story. So we never set out to do something different, it was this idea and we followed it.

When first watching the show, it made me incredibly anxious. She was constantly being humiliated and you couldn’t tell whether to not like her or feel sorry for her. But eventually that question is stripped away when you realize that she knows exactly what she’s doing and how smart she is about the business. Her smile may be fake but her intentions aren’t and you begin to admire her for that.

In the beginning were talking about how unlikeable she was because she was so phony. Like with Mickey, she’s often like, you’re talking but no one’s interested in that, put a pin in that, or here comes something more interesting and having to do with me. I know Michael felt that we need to make people feel bad for her or win them over. I just thought, I don’t think we need to do much because we’ll see that this is a mask and we’ll see something underneath that—so we had to find that balance.

All of the everyday insults that are mostly minor, but because there’s a camera on her so close, you see it register and then you see her spin it, so it feels like a huge impact. She knows it’s happening, but she won’t take it in, she won’t have it. She’ll spin it into something else for the cameras or for herself, and I think that’s what was unclear. I knew she was spinning it for herself and that’s just how she copes. You can’t be in this business if you see reality completely. Not even reality, but your interpretation of reality is always going to be, oh this is too hard and you can’t stick with it.

At one point I couldn’t help but think how sore your cheeks must have been from smiling that  much.

It’s very fun to be her, wondering if she’s selling something, are you buying it. That’s a very fun thing to try and communicate. Her priorities are so off, but I also just admire her perseverance. Even if you don’t agree with what her goal is, it doesn’t matter, ultimately we have to admire a person who won’t give up. Ironically I guess it was also, well, if you’re going to be in reality TV this is how you have to be and this is who we see: people who just spin and lie. People who say to themselves, nope it will be okay because I’ll sell this book. And then you have people who do know exactly why they’re doing it and they don’t care that their name is going to be associated with very bad behavior.

So how did HBO approach you about bringing the show back? Did you have any idea?

It was a complete shock. We were asked to go into HBO and talk to them about The Comeback. and we didn’t know what they meant—a movie, a special, some episode? What do they want? But then before we went in to talk with them, we talked about what we might want. But we went in there and they said, yeah, whatever you want. If you want to do an hour, if you want to do six episodes or a movie, you tell us and we will do it. And we went, Oh my god, we’ll do it, we’ll make six episodes—that then turned into eight. They were wonderful and said, we’re not going to audition The Comeback, we’re just not, so you tell us what you’re going to do and we’ll do it. Then we went away and thought about it; we wanted to let them know what we had in mind because HBO was such a huge part of what this round was going to be about and we needed to know that they were okay with that. They were fantastic!

Now that reality TV is such a massive part of our culture and so engrained into the collective unconscious that we see it as normal, did that factor into how you want about writing this new season and what would have to have changed in the last nine years?

We knew this show wasn’t going to be a conversation about reality TV like the first season was, because we’ve accepted it now. It’s here, it’s been here for ten years or more and that’s not what we’re talking about. So we just decided to embrace that it’s been nine years and what has she done. She was feeling like she was a pioneer in reality TV, because she was before the Housewives, and she wants back in because she got it wrong. She took herself too seriously before and she’s going to do it right now and she’s making a pilot presentation for Andy Cohen. We had that almost immediately. We thought maybe that’s what this whole round is about, until Michael had the idea that Pauly G has written an HBO show. Then we thought that she’d have to audition for the part of herself, and it’s a horrible version of herself. Then I said, “Well can’t she get it, what if she got it?” And we both went, Oh my god that’s what the whole thing is about. That audition was a lot of, how do we justify this happening, because we wanted it to happen but how can we make it believable. We figured it would be interesting to repurpose an actor, so that would already be attractive to them and then how meta it would be, because it’s all meta. Then we decided to just go meta meta meta, just too much that now maybe everyone will be sick of that.

We also felt like there was unfinished business with Pauly G. I don’t think we ever fully explained why his hatred of her was so intense. We could see that he was definitely a person in crisis back then, which we had no idea about, and just that he is her. He’s every bit as desperate, but she says it out loud. He sees her and he is just horrified—”Is it showing?” Everything about her feels like he’s looking in a mirror.

How did you feel when the show came back and to see how excited fans still were after all this time?

I don’t know how to put it, it was the best feeling. We would hear about people that were so excited and that was thrilling, and then terrifying if you gave it enough attention, which we tried not to because then you’re paralyzed. When it came out it was just holding your breath for the first interview. So you just try to figure out, did we do it or did we miss something, because we did this so fast we could have missed some huge big thing. In the final round of editing, when it’s about to go out, that’s when it’s, oh I don’t know about that, let’s not show it to anybody.

Did you know how you wanted the show to end? 

Early on we did know how we wanted it to end, that she leaves the Emmys to go to the hospital. I have to say, when I saw an early cut of that final episode, when the “Cherish” music plays, I started crying and I thought I would never stop. It was just crying for ten years worth of this woman, and, Oh thank god, she’s a person, and I know I thought this is who she’s always been underneath. She’s always been a decent person but there were all these cameras on her and she felt like she needed to be an entertainer first, human being second. Now we know who she really is. I don’t know if I want the reality cameras to go away when we do more, because that’s fun to see that version of her. 

So is it coming back? Will there be a season 3 of The Comeback?

We’re talking about what comes next, but we’re not in a rush. At first I didn’t talk to Michael about it, out of panic, but we were done in December and I thought, oh god that means we have to start up again next month. I don’t know if I can, it’s too soon, I’m too tired. And then we talked about it, and said we don’t have to, we can wait a year and a half. Then HBO said, yeah, whenever, whenever you have it, let us know. It’s wonderful. I don’t know, would feel like shit but we’ve got to get moving now and hopefully it will be good enough.

Flappers Comedy Club and Restaurant

FLAPPERS COMEDY CLUB AND RESTAURANT

102 E Magnolia Blvd
Burbank CA 91502
(818) 845-9721

Like fresh air and sunshine, laughter is essential for a happy life, and it’s all but impossible to get too much of it. So if you don’t have enough laughter in your life, take a break from the bar scene and hit Flappers Comedy Club and Restaurant on your next night out with friends. No matter how seriously you and your mates take yourselves, you’ll laugh your heads off during an evening of stand-up, improv, and general craziness. Take your seats at a table close to the stage and see if any of the comics look familiar. Chances are you’ve caught at least a few of them on late-night talk shows, Comedy Central specials, and network sitcoms. Order a round of cocktails and dig in to your choice of “Moe’s Meatloaf,” garlic pasta, or chicken and portobello marsala. You’ll fill up on the tasty food long before you get your fill of the spot-on impressions and observational humor emanating from the stage. Pay close attention: many comics debut new material here to work on before recording big-time comedy specials. You might just be one of the first people to hear a joke that will someday be repeated around a million water coolers. And be warned, audience members are often called upon to participate. Play the straight man and give the comic all the attention, or try out your own comedy chops and steal the spotlight for yourself. Either way, you’ll have a great story to tell.

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Photograph by Pete
Edited by BlackBook

Wynwood Design District

WYNWOOD/DESIGN DISTRICT

3841 NE 2nd Ave
Miami FL 33137
(305) 722-7100

Like an overlooked starlet, Wynwood has been ready for its close-up since the late developer prince Tony Goldman called it “the great pedestrian neighborhood of the future.” Gather up a group of friends for a day out here and you’ll enjoy a dense collection of art galleries, cafés, bars, and restaurants, as well as graffiti by some of the world’s most prominent artists. A few blocks’ stroll will get you to the urban oasis that is the Design District, where you’ll be immersed in a hyper-luxe brand of grit.

The foodies in your crew will appreciate Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, one of Miami’s best restaurants, where you’ll dig into treats like oven-roasted yellowjack and maple pecan pie with crème fraîche sherbet. Your fashionista friends can soothe their red soles at Christian Louboutin. Interior designers of both the amateur and professional bent can kick back on a fabulous Kartell kouch while admiring the well-heeled design fanatics sashaying past the store. You’ll have plenty to talk about, as the neighborhood is all about creative—and chic—uses of urban space. The day isn’t even half over yet. Cartier’s massive store in the Design District is attracting a spate of high-end cousins, including Louis Vuitton and Hermes. Revel in the luxury while your entire crew feels glamorous. That’s just one of the side effects of a day spent in Miami’s newest hotbed of hauteness.

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Photograph by Janie Coffey
Edited by BlackBook

Stans Doughtnuts

STAN’S DOUGHNUTS

10948 Weyburn Ave
Los Angeles CA 90024
(310) 208-8660

The first thing you need to know is that at Stan’s, there’s no wrong way to spell the name of its iconic specialty. Depending on where you look, you’ll see both “Stan’s Donuts” and “Stan’s Doughnuts,” and they’re both right. However you choose to spell it, one thing’s consistent at this beloved Westwood bakery: the donuts are some of the most decadent, delightful, and delicious you’ve ever had in your life. The moment you approach this modest white-walled shop, you’ll see why it’s been a favorite of students from nearby UCLA since it opened in 1965: it’s brimming with hundreds of scrumptious jelly, custard, and chocolate temptations. But you don’t have to be in academia to appreciate these super donuts, just drop by on your next outing with friends and indulge.

Hit the treadmill in the morning, because you won’t want to stop at just one of these sweet fried delights, and neither will your pals. Be generous and pass along a piece of your maple bar to your crew. Hopefully they’ll return the favor by offering a taste of Stan’s famous blueberry crisp. If not, buy a peanut butter and fresh banana doughnut—topped with chocolate chips—and slowly eat the whole thing in front of them. Stan’s is open until midnight, so you don’t have to rush to get here if dinner runs late. And if you need something to dunk in your morning coffee, they’ll be ready for you at 5am the next morning. Diving into one of these delicious pastries makes you feel like a kid again—all the more reason why Stan’s is such a great place to indulge in as an adult.

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Photograph by Manda_Wong
Edited by BlackBook

Umami Burger – Savory Selections

UMAMI BURGER

1520 N Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90028
(323) 469-3100

Of the five basic tastes, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty are easy to understand. The fifth taste, umami—a pleasant, savory taste found in such foods as mushrooms, ketchup, and soy sauce—is a bit harder to nail down. It’s best, then, to experience it from the experts at Umami Burger, a legendary burger joint with locations all over Los Angeles. For your next night out with friends, bring the gang to the Hollywood location for a round of burgers unlike any you’ve experienced before. You’ll find plenty of options on the menu, but first-timers should start off with the namesake umami burger, which comes with shiitake mushroom, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, parmesan crisp, and umami ketchup. One bite and you’ll know why Angelenos swear by the place: an explosion of delightful flavors, each complementing the other, compels you to take another bite, and another, until it’s all gone and you’re left wondering what happened. Convince one of your friends to get the truffle burger, with house-made truffle cheese, and another to go for the fiery hatch burger, piled high with four types of green chiles, just so you can have a bite. You can always return the favor with a round of craft beers from the bar, or, better yet, an “adult soda” like their blend of vanilla vodka, cream soda, and orange juice. You can’t go home after a feast like this, so when dinner’s over, head over to the nearby Hotel Café to dance the night away to music from your next favorite band.

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Photograph by Yogma
Edited by BlackBook

Luna Park – Lazy Sunday

LUNA PARK

672 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles CA 90036
(323) 934-2110

At Luna Park Sunday is all about brunch, so gather your best friends and bring them over to Mid-Wilshire for an outing that’s casual and hip at the same time. The restaurant’s dimly-lit interior, filled with warm colors and cool chandeliers, makes for a relaxing place to spend a lazy morning that’s sure to bleed into the afternoon. Luna serves bottomless mimosas and sangria until 3pm, which means you’ll have more coin for an extra appetizer or two. Huddle up at the bar and let their expert staff give you some direction. They won’t steer you wrong as they drop off delicious plates like the tuna “poke” with wonton chips, or warm goat cheese fondue with sliced apples. Want to bask in the sun? Whip out your shades and grab an outside table as you sip spicy two-for-one Bloody Marys. Or head back inside and socialize with other neighborhood brunchers. Situated in the heart of the museum district, Luna’s large, eclectic art is a nice touch, and wall paintings make easy conversation starters. Don’t even think about leaving without ordering dessert, because they’ve got make-your-own s’mores with molten marshmallow and bittersweet chocolate, a nostalgic throwback to childhood perfect for splitting with friends (ghost stories are optional). Sundays should be relaxing, and Luna Park is one of the chillest places in town for your crew to come together.

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Photograph by Joshua Ganderson
Edited by BlackBook

Buddha’s Belly – Moments of Zen

BUDDHA’S BELLY

205 Broadway
Santa Monica CA 90401
(310) 458-2500

There are so many things that can happen to you during the workday to throw your energy out of whack. After a stressful shift, create some harmony within by heading to Buddha’s Belly in Santa Monica for happy hour. Invite your favorite coworkers for a meeting of the minds, promising them that this get-together will be strictly off the clock. Buddha’s feng shui will lift your spirits with its careful, sophisticated design, while tasty temptations take the edge off growling stomachs. When you’re hanging out with friends, it’s always fun to get starters you can dip, and the spring rolls with zesty chili sauce here won’t let you down. Sweet potato fries are some of the best in town, and just right for sharing. Look beyond bites and you’ll find the main attractions here: one-of-a-kind cocktails. The house’s signature lychee martini, made with vodka, pineapple, and lemon, will bring balance to your chi. The Zen Garden’s gin, elderberry, and sweet basil will relax your mind and wipe away the irritations of the office. Before you wrap up the night, take a few minutes to bond over chocolate fondue. You’ll release “happiness hormones” when you dip (once again, the fun of dipping) strawberry, banana, and cheesecake into dark, scrumptious liquid chocolate. No matter how difficult your day was, you can always find an hour of happy at Buddha’s Belly.

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Photograph by Andrew Turner
Edited by BlackBook

Fashion Window Walking Tour

FASHION WINDOW WALKING TOUR

349 5th Ave
New York NY 10016
(646) 827-2288

New York is a capital of art and fashion. To catch the best of both in one place, round up your style maven friends for the WindowsWears Fashion Window Walking Tour. You’ll get started at legendary Macy’s Herald Square, one of the first stores to use windows to draw in customers. An expert guide illuminates the past while giving you insight into the looks and trends of the future. Head up Fifth Avenue, enjoying a little exercise as you take in the “living, breathing museum of fashion” that is NYC. More famous names are coming: Barneys, Bergdorf, Bloomingdale’s. You’ll love seeing these icons from a fresh perspective. As you study the style and creativity in the windows, you’ll have plenty to talk about. Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at Fashion Week and Bryant Park? Your guide has secrets to share there, too. When the tour wraps, you’ll probably be inspired to try on a few new looks yourself. With your fresh bank of fashion knowledge, you may be enlightening the sales staff instead of the other way around. Although for this girls’ day out, a brief Bloody Mary detour at Brinkley’s Station may be the ideal intermission between window shopping and the real thing.

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Photograph by Lostinawave
Edited by BlackBook

Porto’s Bakery & Cafe – Cuba Goodies

PORTO’S BAKERY & CAFE

3614 W Magnolia Blvd
Burbank CA 91505
(818) 846-9100

Somebody once said that too much of a good thing isn’t good for you. That somebody had obviously never been to Porto’s Bakery & Cafe. For your next lunch outing, round up your hungry friends and head over to this Magnolia Boulevard eatery, an L.A. institution since 1960. Cuban-influenced and family-owned from the beginning, Porto’s is always packed, and for good reason: it has some of the most delicious food in the area at prices almost anyone can stomach, so bring comfy shoes for the line and a big appetite for the table. When your eyes catch the sea of delicious treats in the display case, your belly will growl with anticipation. Yes, the sweets here are to die for, but start on the savory side of the menu with pork tamales, chicken empanadas, and maybe a potato ball or two. The food here is satisfyingly filling, but somehow you’ll find room in your belly for some dessert. Here’s where you’ll want to order just about everything, from the chocolate biscotti to the dulce de leche cake to a light, fluffy, and amazing slice of pineapple custard Cuban cake. Most treats only cost a buck or two, so your wallet will barely show a dent. The staff behind the counter is masterful at slinging foods with enthusiastic precision. And don’t forget to order a round of cortaditos, Cuban-style espresso topped with steamed milk that packs just enough of a punch to get you through the rest of your day in good spirits. Hanging out with friends and relishing amazing food is a very good thing. You can never get too much of that.

– See more at Love This City