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Jerry Seinfeld Met Lisa Kudrow At A Party Once And Had A Funny Take About Helping Put Friends On The Map

Jerry Seinfeld and Lisa Kudrow on NBC 1990s.
(Image credit: NBC)

Current network TV comedies like Abbott Elementary and The Conners are no doubt popular with viewers, as they rank among the most-watched half-hours in broadcast. Those numbers, along with the rating stats earned by just about everything on TV today (sans NFL games) pale in comparison to the monster numbers earned by ‘90s faves such as Seinfeld and Friends. The latter sitcom’s star Lisa Kudrow obviously knows now how widely beloved Phoebe & Co. have been for nearly 30 years, but says she wasn’t fully aware of the show’s popularity until its fellow New York-set series Seinfeld was its lead-in during the Must See TV era. And you know who helped clue her in on things? Jerry Seinfeld himself, albeit in as bemusedly smug a way as possible.

With the new horror-comedy The Parenting on the way, co-starring Edie Falco and Parker Posey, Lisa Kudrow talked to The Daily Beast about the upcoming return of her NBC genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, and of course the subject of Friends came up. When asked if she ever felt ratings competition happening between her show and Seinfeld, Kudrow said that wasn’t the case, and then revealed the plum cheeky way Jerry Seinfeld reacted when she met him as Friends was starting to explode. In her words:

No. I did not at all. Not to take anything away from the writing on Friends, or the cast, or how good Friends really was, but the first season our ratings were just fine. We held onto enough of Mad About You and starting building, but it was in the summer when we were in reruns after Seinfeld, where Seinfeld was our lead-in, where we exploded. I remember going to some party and Jerry Seinfeld was there, and I said, ‘Hi,’ and he said, ‘You’re welcome.’ I said, ‘Why, thank you… what?’ And he said, ‘You’re on after us in the summer, and you’re welcome.’ And I said, ‘That’s exactly right. Thank you.’

Honestly, it’s hard to think about a way Jerry Seinfeld could have handled that exchange in a way that felt more true to his Seinfeld persona. (Or really, the persona of most characters on that show.) Nothing says pompous like being unable to congratulate someone without also loudly tooting one’s own horn. The stand-up comedian was obviously self-aware in making his comments, so it’s assumed they were said in light-hearted jest, as opposed to anything more sincerely vindictive.

Of course, that assumption is as much based on Lisa Kudrow’s seeming lack of leftover anger from that party as anything else, since Jerry Seinfeld was truly the king of network TV at the time, and his show did have the audience-amassing power to turn Friends from a “just fine” sitcom into a juggernaut whose cast members would go on to earn $1 million an episode. So it’s not like Seinfeld would have been overstepping things too much even if he had been more genuinely egotistical about his show’s impact on Kudrow’s. 

Lisa Kudrow, whose 59th birthday was recently celebrated by her former Friends co-stars, was obviously part of the high-profile reunion special for HBO Max, which allowed the ensemble to relive some of their glory days that not everyone maintained memories of. The special was nominated for various Emmys and other awards, and while no such special has come together for Seinfeld (beyond the cast’s reunion for Curb Your Enthusiasm years ago), fans can always hope.

Having previously talked about her son’s less-than-wonderful opinion about Friends, Lisa Kudrow is just as celebrated (on a smaller scale) for her glorious work on HBO's The Comeback, whose critical acclaim has nothing to do with Jerry Seinfeld...that we know of. Fans have clamored for years for the mockumentary series to return, but Kudrow told Daily Beast that she hasn't even asked the network about it at this point. Maybe one day...

All nine seasons of Seinfeld memorably became available for Netflix subscribers in the latter half of 2021, with the titular comedian utilizing the talents of Bryan Cranston to promote the news at the time. Meanwhile, all ten seasons of Friends can be streamed on HBO Max, and our 2022 TV premiere schedule has everything hitting the small screen throughout the rest of the year.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.