Susie Essman: Enthusiasm for Levittown gig

Susie Essman is seen in this undated photo. Susie Essman is seen in this undated photo. Photo Credit: Handout

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The sound of Susie Greene's voice from HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" cuts through men's minds like nails on a chalkboard. She has the ability to emasculate any male with a mere sentence darted with vicious tone and bite. The master behind this memorable TV character is none other than comedian-actress Susie Essman.

Playing the role of Susie over the past 12 years has made Essman, 57, a household name. She is known for her trademark rants where she effortlessly shreds the dignity of series creator-writer-star Larry David. Essman's outrageousness mixed with delicious delivery makes her breakout character someone fans can't get enough of.

A late bloomer as a stand-up comedian, Essman hit the stage for the first time at 28. She used to host at Catch a Rising Star, where David would perform in the mid-'80s. She'd often stay close by after introducing him in case he stormed offstage in disgust.

This native New Yorker spends her time between a house upstate and a Manhattan apartment with her husband, Jimmy Harder, and their Pomeranian and shih tzu. She spoke to Newsday reporter David J. Criblez before her upcoming gig at Governor's in Levittown Oct. 12 and 13.


What goes through your mind before going on stage?

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I don't do my act in any kind of order. I just go all over the place depending on where the audience takes me and what's going on in the room. I try to choose what I'm going to open with, otherwise I feel tremendous anxiety. Once I figure that out, I can take off from there.


Do you have any particular preshow rituals?

I'm a pacer. I'm incredibly nervous. I go through tremendous stage fright and anxiety before I go on. But the minute I step on the stage I'm completely relaxed.


How would you compare Susie Greene to Susie Essman?

She's a bit angrier than me. Susie is very reactive and doesn't think things through. She's incredibly secure and sure of her responses at all times. I'm the opposite of that. I look at everything from every angle and analytical point of view.


How much did Larry David let you shape the character?