The idea of the show came during a friendly lunch between Lisa and Michael. Both of them were not looking to work on a new show, but then Lisa came up with an idea that she had been thinking of about an actress that is phony and so desperate to get back to the spotlight that she agrees to be in a reality show called "The Comeback". Michael thought the idea was brilliant, and the lunch became a 4 hour meeting. According to Lisa, after that the entire show was practically done.
Michael Patrick King stated that after making a second season of the show after nine years since the first, one of the freakiest thing was that they could get back the real house used as filming location to Valerie's.
Each episode begins with color bars, over which are superimposed the words "The Comeback: Raw Footage", indicating that viewers to the actual HBO series The Comeback (2005) are watching unedited video footage for the fictional reality show "The Comeback".
Lisa Kudrow said in 2010 that if the show were picked up for a season two the character Paulie G. would've ended up getting fired, Gigi would've been in charge of the sitcom, it would've become a huge mess, and Valerie's marriage would've been on the rocks.
The Osbournes (2002), The Anna Nicole Show (2002) and the 2nd season of The Amazing Race (2001) were the basic inspirations for the humiliating level they were heading to achieve for the character. Also, they stated that only after watching a raw footage of The Osbournes (2002) that they discovered how boring the raw material is, that's why they came up with the idea of the episodes to be "raw footages".
Michael Patrick stated that the only thing they changed from the pilot is that Valerie and Mark's sexual life is intense. They did change it because they thought that among everything bad happening around her a dead end sexual life would be too brutal for the character. They wanted the audience to know that "the character had love but was choosing to walk in front of a train instead".
The show was praised by being ahead of its time and among the possibilities for its cancellation is Michael Patrick's belief that people where not ready for it because there was nothing like that on television. That was proved right when TV channels started doing reality shows using the same format, often inviting faded stars to comeback to spotlight or showing people's lives on intimidating and disrespectful levels. One of the shows became to be the hit The Real Housewives of Atlanta (2008) franchise, which its humiliating level is quite similar to what Valerie goes through in "The Comeback".
Although rumor has it that the show was canceled because of the low ratings, on several interviews (EmmyTVledgends.org, The Writers Guild Foundation and Kevin Pollack's Chat Show) Michael Patrick and Lisa Kudrow have stated that they never knew the real reasons.
Lisa Kudrow's middle name is Valerie, and during an episode of Friends in which her character is going through a name change, she changes it to Princess Consuela Bananahammock, but she was "gonna let her friends call her Valerie".
Michael Patrick King stated to The Writers Guild Foundation in 2012 that none of the actions or dialogs in the show were improvised. He said that the improvisation happened only during the writing process. During their meetings, Lisa improvised dialogs and actions as Valerie while Michael tried to transcript the most of it that he could. For Michael those were the toughest moments and he really thought about hiring a stenographer to do that because everything Lisa did and said during improvisation process was so rich that he was always afraid lose any of it.
Real life director James Burrows, who makes uncredited guest appearances during the show as the "Room & Bored" director Jimmy Burrows, also did a guest appearance as a director in the 6th episode of Friends (1994), when Joey is acting as Al Pacino's body double.
Michele Weinberger (Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)), Phoebe Buffay (Friends (1994)), Valerie Cherish (The Comeback (2005)) and Fiona Wallice (Web Therapy (2008)) are Lisa Kudrow's most famous characters to date and all of them have a lot in common. They all share of a tragic past that have isolated them from the others, making them create and live in their very own particular world as a self defense sense to avoid and surpass the suffering, causing the fake impression that they have a shallow or ignorant personality when in fact they are just in conflict with the ordinary social understand of living. Although each one of them goes through very humiliating moments, they do not have a mean or disrespectful nature with the others (not even Fiona whose personality is inclined to take advantage on the situations). They also share of self unawareness, but ironically they have an overwhelming self esteem and confidence. All of the performances had been used in the past somehow and she later brought each one back to become the characters that people now know. Lisa has already stated at Kevin Pollack's Chat Show that she likes to make humor with the "slice of life"-kind of thing. Michael Patrick have defined during their Writers Guild Foundation interview that she first deconstruct a character from the inside out to later build it all over again. Lisa also stated that she doesn't like her characters to be mean or to deliver degrading situations because it's not her style and audience does not deserve that kind of disrespect.
According to Lisa Kudrow, she performed the character "Favorite Actress On A Talk Show" in the past during her acting classes at The Groundlings. That character was brought back to become Valerie Cherish.
While they were writing the pilot episode, Michael said that Lisa came up grumping that "there's a water thing... there's a water in the wall and she doesn't want to deal with it". She didn't know exactly what was that supposed to be, she just had that idea. That "water thing moment" became to be the water leaking that messed Valerie's "IT WALL".
At one point during season one, Jimmy tells Valerie that the real reason I'm It was canceled was because they hired a monkey to star in its last season. Despite its success, Friends (1994), which Lisa Kudrow starred in, also had a monkey character named Marcel.
Lisa also remembered that there was another moment when she argued with Michael. She thought that it wasn't important Valerie to touch the back of Mark's hair in the end of the Palm Springs episode. Michael insisted her to do it because it was a very important moment for the character. During the Writers Guild Foundation interview she agreed that she couldn't be more wrong because it turned to be everyone's favorite moment.
Michael Patrick and Lisa stated to The Writers Guild Foundation that although HBO initially didn't get some of the ideas during the writing process, the channel gave them their full support and creative freedom for its production.
Vanessa Marano was approached about reprising her role as Francesca in season two and wanted to do so, but scheduling conflicts between this show and her ABC Family series, Switched at Birth (2011), prevented this.
Entertainment Weekly placed The Comeback (2005) on several lists: #79 in the 2007's "New TV Classics"; #10 in the 2009's "10 Best TV Shows Of The Decade"; #8 in the "25 Best Cult TV Shows From The Past 25 Years"; #9 in the 2014's "26 Best Cult TV Shows Ever"; #12 in the 2014's "HBO: 20 Best Original". The magazine also campaigned for its return and also stated that it was "tragically canceled".
Michael Patrick said that Lisa never argued with him, except once when Valerie and Paulie G have the double vomit. Every time Lisa spat the shake to fake the vomit she automatically turned her face off the camera because she didn't want to make the audience feel disgusted. On the last shot Michael was yelling at her to do it right that she finally did it while angry.
Lisa Kudrow stated to emmytvlegends.org that she was afraid she wouldn't get the role of Phoebe Buffay because director James Burrows was very serious and laconic about her performance during one of her last auditions, making her think he didn't like her. During The Comeback, Burrows makes a few guest appearances and expresses his dislike of Valerie Cherish by being very serious and laconic towards her. Burrows and Kudrow have a nice relationship in real life.