Essman and Larry David in a scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm

susie essman

Curb Your Enthusiasm's Susie Essman

Susie Essman

Essman co-hosts The History of Curb Your Enthusiasm podcast

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April 02, 2024
Online Originals

Susie Essman on Curb Your Enthusiasm's Upcoming Series Finale

"We've already had several finales that have felt like the last episode," the comedian says. "This is like one of those."

Mara Reinstein

The character's name on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm was Susie Greene. And she was so incensed that her husband's young house guest — a Fresh Air Fund kid — had taken advantage of the couple and robbed them blind that she unleashed a torrent of profanity-laced anger his way. Other than that, the veteran stand-up comic Susie Essman had no idea what her longtime friend Larry David had in store for her in early 2000 when he asked her to appear on his new and mostly improvised sitcom.

"Larry wanted me to be a little out there with the language," Essman says. "Everything else I created. And you know, Larry and I have still never spoken about the character. It just evolved."

Well, not "evolved" in the traditional sense. The short-fused Susie remains a foul-mouthed force of nature, to the point where strangers in her New York City neighborhood regularly approach her and ask her to utter the F-word as a term of endearment. But the character has indeed progressed from a mere featured player in the first few seasons to being an integral part of Curb's family. Now it's time to say goodbye — or, to quote Susie, "get the hell out."

After 12 seasons and 116 episodes, the hilarious Emmy-winning HBO series will air its final episode on April 7. David, who spun off Curb from a 1999 comedy special of the same name, really means it this time. "We knew before we even started shooting that this was it," she says.

To mark the occasion, Essman and her onscreen husband, Jeff Garlin, have been dishing about each episode in chronological order for iHeartPodcast's The History of Curb Your Enthusiasm podcast. "Neither of us had really sat down to rewatch these episodes," she adds. "And I'll tell you something: They hold up! Other than the technology, they don't feel dated at all."

While getting over a bout with Covid ("It's still lingering, which is so annoying!"), Essman — who's also memorably appeared in Broad City, Hacks and has voiced Mrs. Lonstein in American Dad! since 2009 — talked all things Curb and beyond with the Television Academy.

Television Academy: First off, condolences on the loss of your friend and costar Richard Lewis. How are you?

Susie Essman: I'm just heartbroken. I mean, I still am not over it. I couldn't watch [a recent] episode ["Fish Stuck"] because I knew he was in it a lot, and it's just too painful. He had not been well for a number of years, but he wasn't dying. Then he had a heart attack and just slipped away from us quietly. Not like him. 

He's in the series finale as well. What can viewers expect from it?

We've already had several finales that have felt like the last episode. This is like one of those. But I haven't seen it yet and only read the outline, so I can't really comment.

Does Susie at least get in one last tirade against her friend and nemesis, Larry?

Oh, of course! Don't you worry. There will be more than one.

It seems like Susie always had short-term amnesia when it came to Larry. She never called back any of their epic fights!

That's right. It's like Larry is her brother. They can scream and yell and fight, and she will kick him out of the house. Then it's like, "Hey, Lar! Let's go to the party!" She accepted that Larry is just a part of her life. He's in the house all the time, he's her husband's best friend and her husband is his manager. Now Susie and Larry will even be in cahoots with each other.

What's the most surreal part about revisiting all these episodes on the podcast?

It's kind of hard to see yourself from 20 years ago. And we all just look younger. I will say I was struck by how handsome Richard Lewis was in the earlier seasons. He was a heartthrob in his day. Also, it's very poignant, because Bob Einstein [Larry's friend] and Shelley Berman [Larry's dad] are no longer with us.

Can you name a favorite?

Season five — when Richard needs a kidney — was one of my favorite seasons all around. There's an episode called "The Ski Lift" where Larry and I pretend to be married while taking a trip [with the head of the kidney consortium]. Larry tries to speak Yiddish to impress him because he's an Orthodox Jew. We all love that one so much.

And what's your relationship with Jeff like off-camera?

We are like an old married couple. We annoy each other. You have to realize that we've been working together for 24 years but we've all known each other since the '80s on the comedy circuit. So there were seasons where we did not get along at all and seasons where we loved each other. It's pretty real.

Susie's outfits are just as obnoxious as her personality. Which ones have you kept?

Oh, God. I kept one of the kaftans from episode nine. There was an episode last season when JB [Smoove, who plays Larry's housemate Leon] comes over and discusses my vaginal rejuvenation and I'm wearing a little knit sweat-suit. I have that. And I kept the bedazzled sweatshirts from a third-season episode with Ben Stiller. The rest are in an HBO archive.

So, what's next for you?

I have a couple of things in development, but the business has been very slow to come back. I'm doing a bunch of animated things that I'm not allowed to talk about, which are fun. But I know I will never do anything as funny as Curb, that's a given. Just to be part of the creative process and write my own material and work with my closest friends in the whole world has been an incredible privilege. I was really spoiled.

This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.

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