There arent many actresses who are presented with their fans smartphones in the supermarket and asked to say to the person on the other line, You fat fk!
Meet Susie Essman.
As Susie Greene on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Essman, 62, has made her penchant for profanity into a kind of potty-mouthed poetry, cursing with such fluent abandon that she makes Hollywoods tough guys sound like schoolyard showoffs.
Its the oddest thing, says Essman. I make people happy by telling them to go f — k themselves. Who plans your life? When I was a little girl, what do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be somebody who curses at people. And then they pay me money and I make them happy. Who would have thought of that?
Essman and Curb creator/star Larry David started out together as standup comedians in the mid-1980s at Catch a Rising Star in Manhattan. It was an amazing time, says Essman, who was born in The Bronx and grew up in Mount Vernon. People were lined up around the block at the Improv and Catch a Rising Star and the Comic Strip and you knew everybody.
She and David lost touch for about 10 years after he moved to LA. Then he saw me on a roast of Jerry Stiller, she says. And you know roasts. Youre filthy, because you have to be. Then it was ding! ding! ding! Susies the perfect person to play this part.
Susie stands apart from all the characters on the show who are tongue-tied by Larrys insults because she scares him to death. He lives in fear of me, Essman says.
She was not surprised at all that David decided to round up the Curb gang, which includes Richard Lewis, Cheryl Hines and Ted Danson, for Season 9 [the series last aired in 2011]. I knew we were going to come back because I know how much [Larry] loves shooting Curb, she says. We have so much fun. This isnt Baywatch, where I cant show up in a bikini anymore. We were old six years ago. Were older now.
David and Essman picked up where they left off. Weve had this dialogue of the unconscious going where I kind of got what he wanted, she says. He got what I was doing and created more scenarios for that. And it just kind of evolved.
So is Larry really that cranky? He thinks all those things. Its his id. But real Larry as opposed to show Larry knows better than to actually say those things, Essman says. She compares his TV persona to a ventriloquists puppet. Hes the one thats saying all the lines that Larry really wants to say. But thats the fun of it. You dont want to play yourself. Youre with yourself all day long.
During the six years that Curb was on hiatus, Essman did some stand-up as well as recurring roles on series such as Broad City and Law & Order: SVU. Right now, I feel kind of quiet, she says. Im doing a lot of corporate things, private dates.
Theres something great about having this skill to make people laugh, she says. Its a good thing [that] youre putting out into the world.
Warning: Graphic language