Former “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow is making herself laugh.
She’s reading tweets written by her character, Fiona Wallice, on the online show “Web Therapy,” which recently completed its third season. Each segment runs about 3 minutes to 16 minutes.
Kudrow’s character is a self-absorbed therapist who isn’t interested in listening to people’s issues. She’s decided that 3-minute sessions by webcam are sufficient to diagnose a patient and dole out advice. The conversation often veers off-topic and onto Wallice.
“Web Therapy” is available on Hulu, lstudio.com and for purchase on iTunes. Each webisode plays out like viewers are looking at an actual computer screen with Kudrow and a co-star interacting in double boxes overweb chat.
Unlike Fiona, who likes to keep her sessions brief, “Therapy” is expanding to other mediums. Showtime has picked up the series to combine and air as half-hour episodes. Additional material will be added to fill out the stories.
“Fiona is unabashedly self-serving,” Kudrow explained in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “She doesn’t even do a good job in covering it up. She just thinks everyone else is really stupid (and) she’s the smartest person. Ever.”
In one episode, a patient says to Fiona, “I was getting the impression the last couple of sessions that I was boring you,” to which she responds, “I’m not bored. I mean I have enough of an intellectual life to keep interested in anything even you can say.”
Victor Garber plays Fiona’s husband, Kip, who may or may not be gay. Julia Louis-Dreyfus played Fiona’s sister in the show’s most recent season. Guest stars have included Jane Lynch, Selma Blair and Steven Weber.
The dialogue is mostly improvised, and actors wear an earpiece for director Don Roos to keep them on track.
“It’s really fun,” said Kudrow, who describes the process as “just listening and responding and then knowing that somewhere off in the distance we need to find our way over to a point.”
One of the most noteworthy aspects of Wallice is her voice, which Kudrow slips in and out of when talking about the character.
“I started with a friend who is really sexy, brilliant, articulate. … This woman is like a hero to me,” she said. “I thought that’s who Fiona thinks she is, so I started with her. That voice. And then it filtered through my comedy factory which turns everyone into an idiot.”
Kudrow recently took up tweeting. She doesn’t feel comfortable doing it herself, so she tweets as Fiona.
“Her first tweets we have her not understanding what it is at all. She goes onand on and so it gets cut off so you’ll see in the middle of a word it stops,” she laughed.
There’s an iPhone app that Kudrow likens to a therapy version of the Magic 8-Ball. Users type in a problem and get a response from Kudrow’s character, such as: “Well, that’s a ridiculous idea.”
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