By Eileen Katz
Susie Essman is an actress, comedienne and a neighborhood treasure! You’d be hard pressed to find someone more passionate about living here than she is. Hot off season 10 of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, Susie shares how she and her husband are managing these days. She last spoke to us in 2017.
West Side Rag: How are you, Susie?
Susie Essman: “I feel very lucky that my family is well, I feel fortunate I had hot water in my shower this morning, these are awful times and I love New Yorkers – everyone who is sacrificing and doing their best through all this so I’m just trying to appreciate the good things where I find them. Whatever happens and how ever much we’re suffering, we have to remember what we have to be thankful for. I’m definitely experiencing a lot of anxiety. I’m not sleeping well. I keep thinking about my kids, 2 who are in Brooklyn and what if I can’t get to them? I have tremendous fear about that. But you feel it and then you have to move on. You burst into tears and then you move on. It’s the only way I know how to deal with this. I’m waiting for the miracle of a vaccine.”
WSR: Are you cooking a lot?
SE: “I feel fortunate again that I was lucky enough, after much diligence, and I mean checking every hour, to get a Fresh Direct time slot. They are so impossible to get these days. And I stocked up my freezer so we’re eating great! I miss going to restaurants cause it’s always been one of my favorite things to do and I fear so many places will be closed when we do come back from this and that breaks my heart too. You know, I’m a pragmatist. Not an optimist, not a pessimist, a pragmatist and I just think about how I have to do what I have to do to get through each day and protect my family. I’ve always been this way. Very very grateful for little things and I think that’s what we have to do each day through this. But anyway, I’ve been cooking a lot, which I don’t usually do. I’ve been trying to rotate to keep things interesting.”
WSR: So what’s made the power rotation?
SE: “Marinated chicken breasts, Brussels sprouts, salmon…and oh! I made something I never made before: Beef Stew! It was delicious! I’m making large batches of things so I can put them in the freezer. You know, I’m not a cook, it’s not one of the things I’m good at, but I know how to make things delicious. Just add butter. When in doubt add butter! That makes everything taste better.”
WSR: So cooking isn’t what you usually do, what else have you been doing that isn’t part of your normal schedule?
SE: “I’ve been cleaning like crazy! I can’t have my housekeeper come here. But I gotta say, I’m not enjoying that at all! You know for most of my adult life I didn’t have a housekeeper because first I was so poor and then when we had our kids, we didn’t want to send that message that someone was going to clean up after them but that they had to do it. And it wasn’t until they all left for college that I let myself indulge and get somebody once a week and let me tell you, I do not like going back! Again, small problems compared to everything else going on.”
WSR: One of the things I’m incredibly grateful for is season 10 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. The timing of it has been such a godsend! It’s impossible to believe that this season could be funnier than the last but it ABSOLUTELY is! For me it’s the only thing I have the focus to watch and it does not disappoint!
SE: “That’s so nice of you to say! I’m hearing that from other people too…they’re binging the whole 10 seasons over again. I’m feeling that in isolation, as I am and most people are, there’s so little I can do which is why I’m so thankful that the timing of the rollout allows this to be out there now, if it helps someone laugh or give a distraction even for a little while. So many of my friends who are writers, myself included, are finding it really hard to write right now.”
WSR: My last Fangirl moment here, and I don’t want to give anything away to any readers who haven’t watch yet, but the episode about your portrait is one for the comedy hall of fame! Have you found yourself binge-watching anything in particular?
SE: “Well, first of all, my husband and I are big sports fans, so that’s out. No baseball, no golf, no Final Four so that’s gone but honestly we have found we are just blasting music all day long all through the house. Every Pandora mix you can imagine from ‘60’s rock to ‘70’s rock to Jazz, Sinatra, Ella, Brazilian, just the craziest combinations you can imagine. I have found listening to music to be my great solace. Just dancing around the house listening to music. When I have been in the mood for some TV, I’ve been watching “Unorthodox” which I love as much as “Shtisel” but we keep saying we have to re-watch season 10 of Curb because I always have to watch each season a few times because when I’m watching it, I’m not really seeing it the way other viewers do. When I watch I’ll be like: “Oh, that was the day that such and such happened!” or “Oh we had to do 6 takes of this….” So I always have to see it a few times before I can really “see” it.”
WSR: Well, you’re in for a treat!
SE: “You know I think of Larry in that chaise lounge chair (not a spoiler alert) in the last episode and it makes me laugh so hard. I love him so much. And his PSA’s are so fantastic. Did you read the Maureen Dowd interview with him in the Times?”
SE: “That interview I love so much because that’s the Larry David I know and love so much. You know the question I get asked more than any other question from people on the streets is “What is Larry really like? Is Larry really like his character?” and Larry is NOT like his character at all. He is the sweetest, warmest, most lovely person in the world and I feel that article really shows the real Larry.”
WSR: Any other things that are helping distract you?
SE: “I’ve definitely been doing some reading for distraction. Like Agatha Christie, Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, you know like re-reading Dickens’ “Great Expectations”, those things have been giving me great comfort.”
WSR: Many people have been stockpiling paper products or cleaning products, etc. Have you found you’re stockpiling anything in particular?
SE: “I’ve got to be honest, my whole life I’ve always had a fear of running out of toilet paper so even before all of this, I’ve always had a good stock.”
WSR: During these times of intense casual stay at home-wear, can I ask what the fanciest thing is that you’ve put on?
SE: “A brassiere! You know my dear friend Danny Koch, who owns The Town Shop, which is the greatest place in the world to buy bras, where ever you live in the tri-state area, after all this, you should make a trip to the Town Shop to get properly fit and buy your bras, so I am fully stocked with bras, but I haven’t put one on in three weeks. If there’s a silver lining in this, it’s the only plus of isolation.”
WSR: So who is your celeb crush that you’d like to be quarantined with?
SE: “I’m so happy to be quarantined with my husband, I’ve got to say! He’s not a celeb, although he was an extra in episode 7 of this season! I gotta go with Clive Owen. I’ve always had a crush on Clive Owen! And that I got to do scenes with him this season was amazing!”
WSR: Wait! Who was your husband in episode 7?
SE: “He was sitting in the “ugly section” as an extra.. which is not appropriate because he’s extremely handsome. It’s so quick you won’t even notice.”
WSR: I hope Clive Owen wasn’t there cause that would’ve been awkward! Your crush and your husband at one time!
SE: “No, no…not that day, but they have met. It’s all good!”
WSR: So when this is all over, what’s the first thing you’re going to want to do when you can go out and be free?
SE: “Probably go out to a restaurant! Go to Café Luxembourg or someplace in the neighborhood and have somebody else cook for me! Decadent! And socialize and see people and hug! That’s definitely one of the first things I’m going to want to do is hug people! You know feelings come in waves and you’ve just got to let yourself feel it. It’s completely appropriate for what’s going on. Feelings are fluid and you’ve just got to let yourself feel it and try to get to the other side. I think one of the scariest things about this is the unknown…just trying to protect your family, friends, everyone…