Susie Essman ’77
Born in the Bronx and raised in Mt. Vernon, NY, Susie Essman is a stand-up comedian, actress, writer, and television producer, best known for her role as Susie Greene in all ten seasons of the critically acclaimed HBO comedy series, Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Essman was drawn to Purchase for its artistic bent and once here, she surrounded herself with dancers, visual artists, and actors. She had a feeling she might want to give acting a try, but was too intimated. In a 2011 PURCHASE magazine article, she says, “I kept wishing it was me up there. I was insecure and had no faith in myself.”
She turned to stand-up comedy in her late 20s and realized how far she’d come when she returned to Purchase to open for the singer Melissa Manchester at the Performing Arts Center in the 1990s.
Essman’s stepdaughter followed in her footsteps. Cyndi Harder ’15 graduated with a degree in journalism.
Essman has been a veteran of the world of stand up comedy for twenty-nine years. She first met Larry David in New York’s comedy clubs in the mid-80s, a friendship formed that eventually led to twenty years playing the role of Susie Greene.
The Los Angeles Times calls Essman’s character on Curb, “The most lyrical purveyor of profanity on television. She makes the entire cast of The Sopranos look like rank amateurs. It really is a gift.”
The New York Times called her “one of the most vivid characters in the show, whose off-color tantrums have become an audience favorite the way Kramer’s clumsy entrances once were.”
Essman has appeared in her own half-hour HBO comedy special, made numerous appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The View, and Crank Yankers, to name just a few of her many television credits.
She has also acted in numerous films, most recently costarring with John Travolta as the voice of Mittens the Cat in the Disney animated movie Bolt. She’s performed recurring roles on Comedy Central’s Broad City; Tru TV’s Those Who Can’t and NBC’s Law & Order: SVU.
Essman’s book What Would Susie Say—Bullshit Wisdom About Love, Life and Comedy, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2009.