You don't pay Lisa Kudrow
a reported $2.5 million to appear in a "Friends
special and not have her perform the defining ballad of our time, "Smelly Cat
Thankfully, she had a little help from a different friend in the form of Lady Gaga
, who joined the actor in the HBO Max
special, which reunited all six cast members on screen for the first time since the beloved sitcom wrapped 17 years ago.
“Smelly Cat,” an ode to a particularly pungent pet, first appeared in an early episode of the show’s second season and quickly became a pop culture phenomenon and a bonafide hit for Kudrow, who co-wrote the lyrics and once performed the acoustic number on stage with Taylor Swift.
So she was well-prepared to duet with Gaga during “Friends: The Reunion” for the ultimate tribute to the so-bad-it's-good earworm. Kudrow sings the opening lines before Gaga enters, guitar in hand, sitting on the couch of the Central Perk set.
Gaga, dressed to the nines as Phoebe Buffay
, takes a seat next to Kudrow, telling her it's "one of my favorite songs," before asking if she can "take 'Smelly Cat' for a spin?"
Gaga then belts out the song, much to the delight of Kudrow, who tells her, jokingly, "That's not bad."
“You may not be a bed of roses / You are not a friend to those with noses,” Gaga continues, before gesticulating to her own nose in the style of “A Star Is Born.” (For what it's worth, this performance would be Jackson
But, because this special is on a budget, a gospel choir appears soon after to provide some background vocals and give the song some extra oomph, before Gaga and Kudrow finish it off with some final flourishes.
The segment concludes on a touching note, with Gaga telling Kudrow how much her character has meant to fans over the years.
“Can I just say something? Thank you for being the person for all of us on Friends... I'm not sure if this is the correct way to say it, but the different one or the one who was truly herself,” Gaga told Kudrow.
“Thank you,” the actor replied, adding, “and thanks for bringing it along.”
Despite having little rehearsal time, Gaga, who was one of a slew of famous guests in the special, apparently "jumped at the chance" to sing with Kudrow.
“I asked Lisa, ‘Would you be willing to sing it?’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, that would be fun,’” director Ben Winston recalled to Variety. “We went through a few names, and we both agreed that Gaga, if we could get her, would be the ultimate one because she associates with and feels close to Phoebe in so many ways, as Gaga says on the show. That was a really beautiful moment.”
View the video below to see the performance:
I'm sorry, but Lady Gaga can absolutely slap Smelly Cat pic.twitter.com/V9DgdcJbso — Liv Marks (@OliviaLilyMarks) May 27, 2021