Friends always said what was on her mind. Self-censorship was the opposite of her way of life, but she didn’t just say what she thought, she said it in the most concise way possible. Yep, Phoebe Buffay loved a one-liner, and they were all the better when she was delivering a much needed dose of reality to the (initially) spoiled daddy's girl Rachel Green, or any of the other residents of 495 Grove Street. After all, having moved out to live on the streets of New York City at just 14, Phoebe could and did take offense at the others bellyaching over relatively small issues.
But it wasn’t just reality checks where
Friends’ resident boho weirdo came into her own. It was her deliberately quirky take on the world, too. In fact, in 2009, Lisa Kudrow revealed in an interview that she drew on her colleague Jennifer Aniston’s knowledge of that world to build out the character. "Phoebe was so spiritual and 'out there' - and I wasn't at all. Not at all," she told WENN, per Digital Spy. “If anyone was, it was Jennifer. She introduced me to certain books that gave me an insight into that world - which was a more spiritual realm.”
So skilful was Kudrow’s execution of the kooky best friend that in recent years critics have re-examined the centrality of Phoebe to the success of the show. In 2019, the New York Times published a featured which argued “25 years later, it’s
Phoebe who emerges as the least hyperbolic, most nuanced and ahead-of-her-time character on the show.” Central to that were her one-liners, which Aniston recently revealed in a 2020 chat with Kudrow for Variety that Kudrow herself would often break at. “You and I would always get into these fits of laughter because you had this wonderful ability to — you were about to hit your punchline, and you would do this adorable thing where you would break. You would say the punchline, and you would always turn to the audience and say, “I’m sorry, it’s really funny,” Aniston explained. Same here, so, herewith, 13 of Phoebe’s best one-liners from Friends. "Oh I wish I could, but I don't want to."
When you’re done with people pleasing and you don’t care who knows it. Help you, Joey? As if. This quote is perfect for using when you swing by a friend’s shared apartment for coffee and get asked to pitch in on cleaning the kitchen. No freaking way.
"They shouldn’t have called it It's A Wonderful Life, they should have called it It’s A Sucky Life And Just When You Think It Can’t Suck Any More It Does.'"
If you’ve ever seen the critically-acclaimed 1946 Christmas drama, you will be living for this one-liner. Yes, spoiler, protagonist of the movie George Bailey does eventually get his happy ending. But before that point, there’s misery, financial issues, and hearing loss. So, really, Phoebe's succinct summary of the movie is a lot closer to the reality of watching it.
“Oh, you like that? You should hear my phone number."
Phoebe did not get enough credit for her unapologetic game. She offered this particular line when visiting Rachel at Ralph Lauren, and she met the very lovely Tag. Girl’s got game.
"I may play the fool at times, but I'm a little more than a pretty blonde girl with an ass that won't quit.”
In "The One With The Red Sweater," Phoebe (incorrectly, but confidently) predicts that Joey is the father of Rachel's baby. But why should they believe her? See the above. While Miss Buffay is aware of her ample physical charms, she doesn't allow anyone to pigeonhole her as a dumb blonde.
"Your love is like a giant pigeon, crapping on my heart.”
Hey, if anyone gets to sing this disparaging song about love, it’s the masseuse. Remember how she married gay Canadian ice skater Duncan Sullivan, supposedly to help him get a green card, and realized that she was in love with him the whole time? And then he realized he was heterosexual when he fell in love with another woman? Remember when she dated Jim Nelson, fell head over heels for him and later found out he penned erotic stories for kids? Or how it felt like her and David the scientist guy were fated to be together but then he had to move to Minsk? You’ve got to sympathize with the message of this classic Phoebe song.
"Yeah, by the way, good luck in your next life as a dung beetle.”
In Season 2's "The One With The List," Ross asks Chandler for help choosing between Rachel and Julia. Chandler suggests he make a simple pros and cons list, which leads to outrage when Rachel finds it. Everyone's pissed and even more so when they discover Chandler's partly responsible. He appeals to Phoebe for support, saying "Pheebs, back me up here, OK? You believe in that karma crap, don't you?" This is her wonderfully withering response.
"The more I drink, the less there is for the kids to drink.”
When Rachel takes Joey and Phoebe to an event designed to raise money for a charity that helps kids in the sixth season finale, "The One With The Proposal", the character finds the perfect excuse for drinking to excess.
"Well, let's see, it's not really like that because that was an actual problem.”
When Rachel bellyaches about whether or not to go to Ross's wedding in Season 4's "The One With The Worst Best Man Ever", her best friend is there to provide a reality check. "How is this like that?" Rachel asks, to which the blonde delivers the ultimate put down, "Well, let's see, it's not really like that. Because that was an actual problem." Ouch.
"Meet Princess Consuela Bananahammock."
This isn’t just a great line, but was part of one of the best ever storylines on the show. During the 10th season, Phoebe gets hitched to Mike and suddenly realizes that she can change her name to whatever she wants — “Princess Consuela Banana Hammock” is what she opts for. Which is fine and dandy, except that her new husband hates it and retaliates by renaming himself “Crap Bag.”
“Now, if you want to receive emails about my upcoming shows, please give me money so I can buy a computer.”
For every singer-songwriter who wanted to build their mailing list at the open mic night, only to realize... hang on a second. I'm missing one key piece of technology.
"Yeah, I was a, um, thigh mega tampon.”
When someone starts questioning you more closely about that elaborate lie about being in a sorority. You panic and the next thing you know, this is what comes out.
It's strange that we celebrate Chandler for being the wittiest part of the show. Sure, dude's funny, but it was Phoebe who provided the best one-liners.
“Come dinosaur, we’re not welcome in the house of no imagination.”
? It’s when Monica inherits that very formal toy home that she’s too scared to play with. When Phoebe tries to improvise, Monica shuts her down: “No dinosaurs, no ghosts, no giant dogs, okay? They’re not the right size, they’re not Victorian, and they just don’t go.” Luckily, Phoebe has the comeback of a Queen. The One With The Dollhouse “I’m very bendy.”
If you don’t remember this exact line, you might remember the look of horror that crosses Chandler’s face as he thinks Phoebe is trying to hit on him. It’s all part of the “
they don’t know that we know they know” episode where Monica and Chandler’s relationship becomes public knowledge for all of the group but Ross. "He may not be my soulmate, but a girl's gotta eat.”
When Phoebe starts dating a British guy she's convinced is Monica's soulmate, the others are intrigued. Why would you bother taking things further with a person who's totally perfect — for your friend? But it's hard to dispute the formerly homeless lady's logic: sometimes you've just got to put food first.
“Your collective dating record reads like a who's who of human crap!"
This is a zinger. Fed up with the group mocking her new boyfriend (the extremely optimistic Parker,
played by Alec Baldwin), Phoebe takes the dysfunctional group of friends to task about their own dating past. “Something is wrong with the left phalange."
I’m still not sure what this means, but who is! Phalange was also the surname of Phoebe’s oft used alias, Regina Phalange, but she pulled out this particular corker during
The Last One. Ross wanted to tell Rachel he loved her before she moved to Paris, and Phoebe was determined to get her off the plane. The rest is history. "Well everybody does, I'm a really cool person.”
In the Season 4 premiere, she has a heart to heart with the woman who turns out to be her real mom: Phoebe Abbott. When Phoebe's biological mom expresses her interest in getting to know her daughter better, the masseuse responds with her usual breezy self-confidence. Besides all of this, you've got to admit that it also functions as a great response for the next human who tries to talk you up at a bar on a Friday night.
"I just have this really strong feeling that this cat is my mother.”
In Season 4's "The One With The Cat," Phoebe forges an intense connection with a feline. When Ross wants to know if the cat is the same as her mom in Montauk, she clarifies: "This is the spirit of my Mom Lily, the one who killed herself." This one is for everyone who's ever felt a strong bond with their pet, and it makes no sense to anyone but you.
“My eyes! My eyes!”
Perhaps one of the most iconic, memeable, gifable moments from
Friends. In 2020, Kudrow revealed to Aniston during a chat for Variety, that she got permission from Matthew Perry to borrow Chandler’s intonation for this particular line: “Before we shot it. I was like, “I don’t know if you’ve seen the rehearsals, but I’m saying ‘My eyes! My eyes!’ the way you do. So I just need to know that that’s OK with you. If not, I’ll say it a different way.” And he was like, “Yeah, go for it.”