Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay
|First appearance||"The Pilot"
|Last appearance||"The Last One, Part 2"
|Created by||David Crane
Kevin S. Bright
|Portrayed by||Lisa Kudrow|
|Nickname(s)||Pheebs/Phoebs/Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock|
Princess Consuela Bananahammock
Phyllis, the Lady Who Sings About the Truth, Glenda ("The One With Joey's Bag")
Joey's pretend agent
|Family||Frank Buffay (father)
Phoebe Abbott (mother)
Lily Buffay (adoptive mother, deceased)
Frances Buffay (grandmother, deceased)
Ursula Buffay (twin sister)
Frank Buffay Jr. (half-brother)
(m. 1988–1994; green card marriage)
Michael "Mike" Hannigan
|Relatives||Frank Buffay Jr. Jr. (nephew)
Leslie Buffay (niece)
Chandler Buffay (niece)
Alice Buffay (sister-in-law)
Phoebe Buffay is a fictional character from the NBC sitcom Friends, portrayed by Lisa Kudrow. Kudrow received an Emmy Award, Screen Actor Guild's Award and a Golden Globe nomination for her performance. Her twin sister, Ursula Buffay, who first appeared on Mad About You, eventually becomes Governor of New York.
Phoebe Buffay is the younger twin daughter born to Phoebe Abbott (Teri Garr) and Frank Buffay, roughly in 1970; her twin sister, Ursula (also portrayed by Lisa Kudrow), was born one minute earlier. Frank was married to Abbott's best friend, Lily, at the time; Lily adopted Phoebe and Ursula. Phoebe does not talk much about her early years except to note that she was from upstate New York, her father abandoned the family when she was very young, Lily remarried to an unnamed man. Lily committed suicide when Phoebe and Ursula were fourteen, by sticking her head in an oven; afterward their stepfather went to prison. She occasionally mentions Lily's strange behavior and methods of raising her children. By age fifteen, Phoebe was living on the streets. Many references to Phoebe's colorful past on the streets are made throughout the series. Phoebe lived in many locations such as in an abandoned Buick LeSabre automobile, in an AMC Gremlin with "a guy named Cindy who talked to his hand," and with an albino man who washed windows outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal. She did not attend high school or college, but claimed that she met behind a dumpster with a small group to learn French, in which she is fluent. Phoebe occasionally resorted to mugging to survive; at one point, when she was fourteen, she mugged her later good friend Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) near a comic shop, stealing the only copy of Ross's comic Science Boy, of which she claims "taught me well". Phoebe also mentioned that she once lived in Prague, Czech Republic but refuses to discuss it further. She also claims that she contracted hepatitis when a pimp spat in her mouth; was stabbed by a police officer, whom she stabbed in return; learned to box at a YMCA; has been tortured; and at one point made sombreros (and got called "bad little white girl" by her employer for not making them big enough).
She moved in with Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) when she answered a roommate ad, which began their friendship. While living with Monica, she married a man named Duncan Sullivan (Steve Zahn), a gay Canadian ice dancer, in order to help him obtain a green card. He later revealed that he is straight, and was just pretending to be gay "to fit in", resulting in a divorce during the second season, although Phoebe had genuine feelings for him. She moved out when she could no longer handle Monica's controlling tendencies, choosing to live with her grandmother in her apartment, at 5 Morton Street. After her grandmother's death in the fifth season, Phoebe inherited the apartment and her yellow taxicab.
Having not experienced a normal childhood, Phoebe is childlike, innocent, and considered the "weird one" of the group. Paradoxically, she is also known in the group for having the best street smarts. Although usually friendly, Phoebe, when sufficiently exasperated, reverts to a harsher "Street Phoebe" persona, noting that "Street Phoebe" would never have befriended the other characters. In later seasons, Phoebe can often be seen ridiculing the other friends (especially Monica and Chandler), and doing things for self-gain but always maintains her good heart. Phoebe is the most promiscuous girl of the show, highly preferring casual sex (and it is hinted that she enjoys very kinky sex.) When she first met Mike, she was in her very early thirties and had never been in a relationship that lasted longer than a month. Although she and Joey are debatably equally promiscuous, Phoebe will not avoid monogamous dating and was very eager to get married after Ross made the mistake of pointing out that she has never had a serious relationship.
Phoebe, in addition to being a musical performer at Central Perk, worked as a massage therapist. Except on a few occasions, she kept professional relationships with her customers. She worked at many different spas, including a place called Healing Hands, but was fired for kissing a client. She went on to work at a more upscale massage clinic for the benefits and higher pay, despite it clashing with her liberal ideals.
Her age seemed to have differed throughout the series. In "The One With The Mugging", it is implied that Phoebe is older than Ross, seeing as she was fourteen when he was 12. This episode made her possibly the oldest in the group. Also in "The One Where They All Turn 30", Phoebe had been shown to be the oldest among the group as when she had turned 30 she got to know from her twin sister Ursula that she was actually 31.
Phoebe frequently uses the alter ego Regina Phalange (Phalanges are bones in the fingers). The first reference to Regina Phalange is during season 5, when Phoebe is trying to contact Mrs. Waltham in England after Ross and Emily's wedding. She pretends to be Dr. Regina Phalange, who is Ross' brain doctor, claiming that names are interchangeable in his mind. When the friends go to Vegas, Phoebe introduces herself to the blackjack dealer as Regina Phalange. When Phoebe, Rachel, and Melissa go out to lunch (The One With Rachel's Big Kiss), when asked by Melissa if she was in a sorority, she replies 'Yeah. Thigh Mega Tampon.' Melissa replies 'What?' and Phoebe says 'Yeah, we were really huge too, until they had to shut us down when Regina Phalange died of alcohol poisoning.' She also used her fake name to show Chandler and Monica that people sometimes lie about their names and introduces herself to them as Regina Phalange. Phoebe uses the name when helping Chandler with his interviewing skills in season 8. In the season 10 episode "The One Where Joey Speaks French", Phoebe attempts to spare Joey from humiliation by introducing herself as "Regine Phalange" and stating that Joey is speaking an obscure regional dialect from her "hometown" of "Estée Lauder". Her attempts to convince the casting director fail and she eventually admits that Joey is her younger brother who is "un peu retardé" (a little retarded), and requesting that the casting director humour Joey's French-speaking abilities. The last reference is in the series finale when Phoebe successfully stalls Rachel's plane to Paris by saying there is a problem with the "left phalange", causing everyone on the plane to evacuate, including Rachel. A woman on the plane asks a flight attendant, "You fixed the phalange?" to which he replied, "Yes, the phalange is fixed. In fact, we put a load of extra phalanges on board just in case."
Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) behaves like a little brother to Phoebe, demanding on several occasions, "Pheebs! Play with me!" In "The One with the Metaphorical Tunnel", Phoebe and Chandler play hide and seek. They also play games, like coming up with Superhero names and reclining the Barcaloungers like cowboys. They share a duet of "Endless Love" at the end of one episode, when Chandler is sad after a breakup with Janice. They spend a Thanksgiving pretending to watch football together to get out of helping to cook dinner, that Monica is preparing. They share a distaste for Monica's aggressive side, and instead of being angry at Phoebe for firing Monica as her wedding planner during the rehearsal dinner, he chuckles and raises his glass. Chandler views Phoebe as strange, making references to her being an alien from outer space in "The One with All the Resolutions" in Season 5. ("A plane? Better make it a space ship so you can get back to your home planet.") She seems to enjoy toying with him more as the seasons progress. In "The One Where Everyone Finds Out", trick him into believing that she is attracted to him. He is baited until Monica tells him that Phoebe finds him charming in a "sexless" way, indicating that any hints towards romance are jokes. She and Chandler face off in a seduction match they both know is a farce, with Chandler visibly more shaken, though Phoebe is also uncomfortable. They share an awkward kiss and Chandler almost touches her breast but awkwardly moves his hand to her shoulder. He pulls away, saying that Phoebe has won and he is in love with Monica.
On some occasions, Phoebe hints that she has affection towards Chandler, as in "The One Where Ross Meets Elizabeth's Dad" when Phoebe tells Chandler that she will be waiting for him to make a move on her. In "The One With The Tea Leaves", Phoebe reads her tea leaves and learns that she will soon meet the man of her dreams. She says, "Probably not the guy I had a dream about last night" and then points towards Chandler and mouths the word "you". In "The One With All the Football" she throws Chandler off guard by flashing him, and he is visibly pleased. Chandler also asks Phoebe to help him select an engagement ring for Monica after she walks in on him looking at ring brochures. Chandler gives Phoebe away when she marries Mike, although Chandler is the only member of the group available; originally, Joey would have given her away but he is called on to perform the ceremony (he was ordained online for Monica and Chandler's wedding in season 7). Chandler tells her that she looks "beautiful", and she seems happy, waving and saying "Hi, new dad!". He and Monica play a role in getting Mike and Phoebe back together in Barbados. They also spend time together in "The One with the East German Laundry Detergent", both trying to dump their significant others; Phoebe points out that they should spend more time together. He responds that maybe later they can run over puppies, which she tells him she does not want to do. However, she breaks up with Janice on his behalf, and he states that they should always break up together, to which she responds, "I'd like that!". She also decides that she would name one of the surrogate children of her brother after Chandler after trying to decide between the name Chandler or Joey. Much to Chandler's embarrassment, the baby named Chandler turns out to be a girl, whom Alice calls "Channy Fanny".
Phoebe is the initial reason that Chandler quit smoking in "The One With the Thumb", after an argument between the group about his smoking he is leaving the apartment when she offers him $7,000 never to smoke again. Whether she actually does or not remains unspecified.
Phoebe and Joey Tribbiani appear to understand each other. They are the only members of the group who lack a college education. Joey is Phoebe's best male friend; they have dinner together once a month to talk about the rest of the group. Both characters show a softness for each other, even when joking or when they are upset with the others. In "The One with the Race Car Bed", it is implied that Phoebe can hear Joey's thoughts. In "The One With the Ride Along", she explains that "when the revolution comes, I will have to destroy you all...not you, Joey". When Rachel and Phoebe conspire to split up the group, Phoebe vigorously suggests to add Joey. In "The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel," when Ross makes a small pass at Joey, Phoebe responds with anger, "Hey! You could do a lot worse than Joey Tribbiani!" Joey is angered when Ross does not support his "identical hand twin" idea, and Joey says that none of the group can live in his hand-shaped mansion "except for you, Pheebs, you can live in the thumb". Later, she helps Joey by pretending to be Regina Phalange, a businesswoman interested in hiring identical hand twins. However, she says that she does not want her surrogate kids to "grow up in a world where Joey is right" after an argument in which Joey insisted all good deeds are selfish.
In The One with the Proposal, when Rachel and Phoebe decide to have back-ups (once they are forty, they will marry their back-ups) Phoebe has Ross and Joey as a back-up. Rachel writes Joey's and Ross' name on a napkin and which ever one they get is their back-up. Rachel gets Joey and Phoebe get Ross, but then they immediately switch. Joey respects Phoebe's knowledge of such things as reincarnation. Phoebe unsuccessfully tries to teach Joey how to speak French because he claims fluency on his résumé. She also tries to teach him the guitar, but forbids him to touch one, and they have a brief falling out when he seeks out a qualified teacher. Phoebe reportedly had a crush on Joey, and was jealous of his relationship with Ursula. Phoebe and Joey's relationship never goes past a kiss (which happens five times during the course of the show). Joey proposes to Phoebe in the episode "The One with the Red Sweater" thinking that she is pregnant and doesn't want her to 'go through it alone'. She responds with "Hell yeah, I'll marry you!", but before anything actually happens, Monica steps in and tells him that Rachel is the one who is actually pregnant, and that Phoebe was only covering for her. He takes back the proposal and asks for the ring back from Phoebe. In "The One Where They All Turn Thirty", Phoebe laments all the things she has failed to do before turning 31, including having "the perfect kiss" and meeting a Portuguese person. Joey kisses her and says, "Oh, I'm 1/16 Portuguese". Phoebe frequently hits on Joey. On two separate occasions, Joey suggested that since Ross and Rachel and Chandler and Monica had become couples, if she thought that the two of them should do the same. She tells him that they will get married because she thinks that Chandler and Monica's marriage will fail. In her prediction, Joey marries Rachel for her children and Phoebe marries Chandler for his money, then they both get divorces and marry each other with Chandler's money and Rachel's children.
When Phoebe's identical twin sister, Ursula, breaks up with Joey without telling him, Phoebe poses as Ursula to give Joey some closure. Joey ends up kissing Phoebe, at which point he realizes it's actually her.
In spite of their usual friendship, Phoebe has occasionally disagreed with Joey - when he dismissively tells her that no good deed is totally selfless, Phoebe becomes obsessed with proving him wrong: "I just gave birth to my brother's triplets and I will not let them be raised in a world where Joey is right!".
Kudrow later revealed in an interview that she and LeBlanc had pitched an idea to the writers involving Joey and Phoebe having casual sex all along, but the pitch was rejected. David Crane and Marta Kauffman have also said that they "always assumed Joey and Phoebe were having a secret affair".
Phoebe and Ross Geller, while loving, did not always get along. Indeed, even though they were very close friends, Ross often came into conflict with Phoebe Buffay. His rationality and Phoebe's eccentricity led to conflict over the theories of evolution, gravity, and whether or not Phoebe's dead mother was reincarnated as a cat. It was also revealed that Phoebe mugged Ross during her homeless years (stealing a copy of the comic book Science Boy that Ross had created) when they were teenagers, although Phoebe was slightly cheered about the discovery as she had always felt like an outsider to the group as she lacked the longer-term connections of the others. The two were also roommates for a few weeks when a fire forced Phoebe to move into Chandler and Monica's apartment as Phoebe wanted to give the newly-engaged couple some privacy.
In a "flashback" scenario episode, it is revealed that after Ross and Carol's relationship broke down, she and Ross almost had sex. She hits on him a couple of times, some in jest, others to get what she wants, like when she and Rachel compete to be maid of honor. He sometimes returns the flirtations, as they boost his ego, but she usually makes him uncomfortable with her sexuality, like when she calls him "daddy" and asks him if he is going to spank her in the episode "The One with the Lottery". In "The One with George Stephanopoulos", she declares that she thinks Ross is "kind of cute". They kiss in "The One with All the Resolutions", and when Joey lies and says that Ross wanted to kiss her, she smirks and says it is obvious. They also date a divorcing couple in one episode and end up fighting in the same manner as a married couple.
In one of the flashbacks the friends had, it showed Ross and Phoebe in a pub - now known as the coffee shop - and they got caught up in the shutting down of it they ended up kissing on a pool table. As it turns out, Ross got a ball stuck up his rear end while kissing Phoebe. They debate the theories of evolution and gravity, and whether Phoebe's dead mother had been reincarnated as a cat. Phoebe suggests that, at some point in the future, she and Ross will have a disagreement that ends with her killing him. In "The One With Joey's Big Break", Phoebe claims to be mad at Ross but "can't remember" why. She remembers that he called her boring, but this turned out to be merely a dream. When she is getting ready to celebrate her birthday during the 9th season, Ross and Rachel say that only one of them can attend a dinner with her, she quickly chooses Rachel, leaving Ross to sarcastically comment - "Gee, thanks. I'll make sure to put a lot of thought into your gift". She finds it amusing to argue with Ross and get him riled up. Despite their differences, both always turn to one another for advice or help.
When Ross discovers that Phoebe has never ridden a bike, he buys her an exact copy of a neighbour's bike that she used to envy. She does not ride it, so Ross gets annoyed and convinces her the bike will die unless she rides it. She scoffs at this, but when he leaves, she whispers to the bike, "Please don't die!". When Ross realizes that he is in love with Rachel, Phoebe pushes him to tell Rachel how he feels. She is also the one he chooses to tell that he did not annul his marriage to Rachel in season 6, and Phoebe stays loyal to his confidence. Ross and Phoebe sometimes turn to one another when they need emotional or sexual advice. Ross asks Phoebe for advice about telling Monica about Rachel moving in, and Phoebe turns to Ross for advice about Mike. Ross upsets Phoebe by telling her that he thought marriage was "too normal" for her, although it was okay for "a guy like him". He upsets her when discussing the fact that she had never had a long-term relationship, and then makes things worse by revealing that fact to Mike.
The two also bond over Ross's supposed musical talent. Despite the fact that Ross's music is rudimentary and reliant on sound effects such as doorbells, cow sounds and whistles, Phoebe is the only friend who thinks he's a genius that is "not appreciated in his own time", even going so far as to say she feels "dwarfed" by his "gift". She eventually hears it for what it is, although Ross feels that he intentionally plays poorly just once in order to make sure Phoebe continues to play. She also enjoys hearing him play the bagpipes, like in Season 7.
In the last episode of Friends, Phoebe drives Ross to the airport in her taxi, and delays Rachel's flight so that Ross can declare his love to Rachel. When they realise they have gone to the wrong airport, Phoebe calls Rachel and causes a commotion that delays the flight. Rachel initially turns him down, and Phoebe comforts him as he cries.
Although Phoebe and Monica Geller are close, Phoebe often finds her competitive and compulsive behavior bothersome. During one of Monica's outbursts Phoebe jokes about how she "woke the beast". When explaining why she is moving out of Monica's apartment, Phoebe says, "I need to live in a world where people can spill!" She moves out surreptitiously, taking one possession at a time to avoid discovery. Once she is discovered, she states that she still wishes to be Monica's friend. Before the first episode, she attempted to "cut Monica out" of her life. This is revealed in "The One With Ross's Tan" (Season 10) and causes a brief rift between them. They also clash when Monica becomes Phoebe's wedding planner and annoys Phoebe with her demanding behavior. Monica is annoyed and embarrassed when Phoebe sings outside of her restaurant; Phoebe responds by insulting Monica's cooking and restaurant.
During Monica and Chandler's engagement, Monica tells Rachel and Phoebe that she cannot decide who to pick to be her maid of honor at the wedding, so leaves the decision to them. Initially, it is decided that Phoebe could be Monica's maid of honor, as Phoebe says that she has never been a maid of honor for anyone before. When Rachel discovers that this is not true, Joey and Ross hold a competition in which Rachel and Phoebe act out potential maid of honor scenarios. Phoebe wins, but later tells Rachel that she can be Monica's maid of honor since it means more to her. Phoebe is soon glad, however, that she does not have to put up with Monica's controlling nature during the planning. When Monica takes control of Phoebe's wedding, Phoebe tells Monica that she is tired of her bossiness and fires her, though she later becomes overwhelmed with the wedding duties and asks for Monica's help again.
Phoebe and Rachel Green are roommates for a time in season six, although this leads to some minor clashes. Rachel becomes embarrassed at Phoebe's jogging style but then runs like Phoebe after realizing that she hurt her feelings. Phoebe admits that, if she had to choose which of her two female friends to have a lesbian relationship with, she would pick Rachel because she is not as high-maintenance as Monica. At the end of the episode, while Rachel tells Phoebe that she would pick her above Monica to have a relationship. At one point, Phoebe insults Rachel's waitressing, saying to her, "Yeah, otherwise someone might actually get what they ordered". This sparks a huge fight between some of the other friends.
In another early episode, Phoebe talks Rachel into getting tattoos together. Rachel gets a heart tattooed on her hip, but Phoebe ends up getting only a tiny blue dot because she can't stand the pain of the needles. She rationalizes it by saying the blue dot is what Earth looks like from where her mother would see it, in heaven.
When Emily and Ross are together, Rachel offends Phoebe by saying she thought Phoebe would be "the first to leave the group". When trying to comfort Phoebe, Rachel says that they should leave and make their own group because they are "the best ones". Phoebe agrees and says, "Alright, but let's try to get Joey".
The pair get closer as the show goes on, but Rachel is forced to move out when a fire destroys their home. When it is rebuilt, Phoebe thinks Rachel would rather live with Joey. She tries to make life miserable for Rachel in Joey's apartment so that Rachel will move back in with her. After it is apparent that the two can no longer share an apartment due to the rebuilding, Rachel lives with Joey. In the seventh season, Phoebe does not believe Rachel when she said that she had kissed a girl (her old college friend Melissa played by Winona Ryder), so Rachel brings Phoebe to dinner with Melissa, the girl she claimed to have kissed. Melissa denies it at first, but later states that she is a lesbian and has never forgotten the kiss. When Melissa leaves, Phoebe kisses Rachel to find out "what all the fuss was about". Rachel, looking shocked asks, "And?" Phoebe shrugs and says, "I've had better".
In Season 9, Joey introduces Phoebe to Mike Hannigan by randomly selecting him for a date with Phoebe. Phoebe and Mike begin a long relationship, which temporarily ends after Phoebe learns that Mike, having already been through one failed marriage, never wants to marry again. Mike then learns that Phoebe's first boyfriend, David, is planning to propose to her; he changes his mind about marriage and proposes to Phoebe before David can. Phoebe rejects the proposal because she only wanted to know that marriage was a possibility; she and Mike become a couple again. They become officially engaged in "The One Where Rachel's Sister Baby-Sits". In "The One with Phoebe's Wedding" during the final season, they are married in the street outside Central Perk, with Monica as matron of honor, Rachel as a bridesmaid, Joey officiating, Chandler giving Phoebe away, and Ross holding Mike's childhood dog as a groomsman.
When she changes her name after the wedding, Phoebe learns she can change it to anything. She briefly becomes "Princess Consuela Bananahammock" but requests that the friends call her "Valerie". To show her how ridiculous it sounds, Mike suggests changing his name to "Crap Bag". Phoebe relents but wants to keep the name "Bananahammock" until learning that it is slang for a Speedo. She changes her name to Phoebe Buffay-Hannigan.
Despite her first marriage to Duncan Sullivan, it was once indicated that Phoebe was previously married in Las Vegas at some point in the past. She indicates her belief that people married in Las Vegas are only married within the city limits, and is surprised when Monica informs her such a union is legal all over the world. After a moment of mild distress, she shrugs off the revelation.
Phoebe's pregnancy during Season 4 was to account for Lisa Kudrow's actual pregnancy. Kudrow gave birth to a boy after production ended for the season.
Phoebe's first line at the show was "Wait, does he eat chalk? Just, 'cause, I don't want her to go through what I went through with Carl". Phoebe's last line is "So, I guess this is it" before everyone leaves Monica and Chandler's apartment.
Lisa Kudrow won the role because the producers liked her recurring role as Ursula, the waitress in Mad About You. The characters were connected to make them twin sisters. The producers said they liked the elements of Lisa in Ursula, but they needed Phoebe to be a lot more humorous.
On a behind-the-scenes of Friends, the make-up department said that during the course of the series, Lisa wore wigs as she isn't a natural blonde and that she would dye her hair for movies she played while filming Friends.
- "Lisa Kudrow - Biography". TV.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
- Mabel's 'what becomes of everyone' narrative at the end of the Mad About You finale, "Final Frontier".
- As said in "The One with the Halloween Party".
- As said in "The One with the Rumor".
- As shown in "The One Where Joey Speaks French".
- As shown in The One with the Flashback".
- As shown in The One with the Flashback".
- Bright, Kevin S. (15 November 2005). Friends: Final Thoughts. New Wave Entertainment.
- Wild, David (2004). Friends ...'Til the End. London: Headline. p. 209. ISBN 0-7553-1321-6.
- "Lisa Kudrow Dishes It Out". Entertainment Weekly (1026). 19 December 2008. Retrieved 25 November 2011.