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Susie Cue?

October 4, 2007 By:
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"Wake up, little Susie, wake up. Wake up, little Susie, wake up ... "

"Ah, go *#&% yourself, you piece of &*@^!"

That's some wake-up call even the Everly Brothers would never expect.

Rude awakening? No, a dream job for Susie Essman, whose "Curb Your Enthusiasm" character Susie Greene takes her trash talk to the cable curb every Sunday night on the HBO show where it's not TV, it's &^#@*!

And that's a mouthful: "I'm Jeff's better half," says Essman of getting the best of her hefty TV hubby Jeff Greene, played by Jeff Garlin, whose life is no garland of roses living with a woman whose mouth's awash in vitriol so vile that not even Scope could scope it out.

Better half? Who better then than Essman to also host "Better Half," a new Wednesday-night series on Bravo in which couples try to teach their mates the ins-and-outs of their own careers.

But what they did for love may not do so much for their love lives when mates work at the same job in the same household, each trying to hold their tempers.

Do his and her towels suddenly become more valuable when used as white flags of surrender?

No such problems for the 40ish Essman, unmarried but in a long-term relationship with a real estate broker. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, she says about staying together without benefit -- or maybe it's detraction? -- of marriage.

But wedded blitz is what she shares on "Curb," tossing grungy grenades at her girth-challenged husband and his best friend/client Larry David (creator of the show, doing his best, as he did on "Seinfeld," to show how "nothing" can amount to more than you could ever imagine.)

So what does a "shrew Jew" do when she's out of control? Don't ask Essman; that's Greene's riotous role: Essman has her life together.

To gather two plum jobs a week takes aplomb, a characteristic that would make TV Susie turn green.

Up to Her Old Tricks
"I'm up to my old Susie Greene tricks," she says of upcoming treats on "Curb" episodes, in which hollow weenies Larry and Jeff fall victim to her vicious outbursts over and over again.

"This is not a show about human growth," she says, laughing.

But it's a life that has shown much growth since Essman first started showing her stuff in show business. A hip and hot club performer with New York area Jewish roots, she found crowds rooting for her early on in a career that pulled no punches in film ("Punchlines"), and even garnered praise and plaudits from David for her ability to crack him up.

And it takes a crack comic to crease a smile out of David's furrowed face. But maybe it takes even more to put the look of fear on it: "One of my favorite parts of doing 'Curb' is when I attack [Jeff and David], and you see the fear on their faces," she says, gleaming.

The biggest joke, however, she avers, is how people just assume that Susie Essman/Greene have mind-melded over their menacing mien. No, she says, she has no truck with talking like a truck driver in real life.

Not that her act isn't a vehicle for some raw humor. Susie cue? Must be all the audiences laughing, but "don't bring your kids to my act," she says. "It's not PG."

And Susie on TV isn't exactly P.C. The Greene, Greene gross of home? Essman never tires of the tirades; nor do audiences, it would seem, of the verbal projectiles, weapons of mass discussions among her many fans.

And those fans are an eclectic echo of what works for her at work. "Do my Jewish experiences affect my comedy? Yes, being Jewish informs my comedy. It's like being a woman."

And though she stresses her act attracts catholic appeal, she concedes, "it's more natural for me to play to a Jewish audience."

She's a good audience herself, especially when it came to listening to her bubba, "one of those women from the shtetl who had a hard life. She left school in the third grade, and she was the funniest person I ever knew."

Nu, so where does that leave Essman? The star of HBO's "Curb" and Bravo's "Better Half" has the bravura to be better by half than many of the other comics around.

And you #&@*# better believe it!

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