Uncurbed: Susie Essman

Photo: Patrick McMullan

Susie Essman is calling from her place on the Upper West Side, and unlike Susie Greene on Curb Your Enthusiasm, she’s not cussing up a storm. She sounds fairly content, actually, which may have something to do with the fact that Curb filmed half its season here, so she didn’t have to ­schlep to L.A. She spoke to Steve Heisler.

Did you think there was going to be an eighth year? Many of us thought it was over.
Well, after every season, Larry [David] says, “That’s it.” And then he’ll finish editing, and the show will air, and then I’ll get a call, and he’ll say, “I’m not promising anything, but I am letting you know I’m working on a couple of outlines.” And then a couple of months later, I’ll get another phone call: “I’m still not promising anything.” And then finally he’ll call and say, “All right, we’re doing it.” So, you know, every season he says that, and we’re one of the longest-running series on HBO.

You’ve done stand-up for more than twenty years. Do you think it’s easier for women today?
I know when I was coming up, none of the male comics thought women were funny. Well, I’m not going to say none, because the really good ones like Larry and Jerry [Seinfeld] did; it was really the mediocre ones who did not.

Well, to get down to the down-and-dirty, men are basically insecure, and I think a funny woman is going to make them feel sexually inadequate, like they have a little small penis or something. Funny is ridicule. It’s not going to be this sweet little girl who’s just, like, kissing your ass and laughing at your jokes. If you’re a funny woman, you need a man who is secure.

I read that you imagine Susie Greene as always thinking she’s wearing the perfect dress.
I wanted her to be this kind of woman who has this incredible confidence and believes that she just has the greatest taste in the whole world. She believes that she is the only one who has the vision to dress like this.

Is that a psychological disorder?
No—I wish I could be like her. I’ll put on 50 different outfits before I figure out which one I like.

Do people stop and ask you to curse at them?
Yes. At first it was kind of novel, like, Wow, people want me to tell them to go fuck themselves, how great is that? But at this point it’s like, Can I go about my day, please, without having to scream at somebody? I’m not always in the mood, you know?

Curb Your Enthusiasm
HBO, returns July 10.

Uncurbed: Susie Essman