Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Mitzvah: Joy Behar and Susie Essman at the 92nd street Y


















In 1990, Susie Essman played the role of a Hasidic woman named Malka in the Hallmark TV movie "Loving Leah." Barbra Walters interviewed Essman on the View about her research of the role earlier this year, asking what the actress learned about the ultra- orthodox community. She answered, "That they're not very good dressers." Of course, this flippant and hilarious comment attracted ire from many. In order to rectify the situation, Essman suggested that the View host a Hasidic fashion show. Joy Behar said that in the lull of summer programming, the producers seriously considered it.

How did I learn such juicy showbiz gossipy bits? BECAUSE I was seated last row (literally dead last, vertigo- inducing last) at an Evening with Susie Essman and Joy Behar at the 92nd Street Y last night! I just adore these two brassy broads and purchased tickets ages ago and told my so- called "friends" to do the same. Of course, none of them did, they are all very preoccupied crafting their slutty Halloween costumes (Chris has been working on his "Downward Dog" creation all week and Brooke D's "Nancy Kerrigan Nasty" is just skating along) and experimenting with new jello shot flavors (Anna is perfecting "malt liquor and sriracha " and Brooke G will soon patent "college dorm room"). I was the sole Gentile in the audience and companionless. Needless to say, I felt like a curious aberration in a sea of peri- geriatrics and Larry David doppelgangers. Brooke D, Brooke G, Anna, and Chris: If you are reading, I hate you.

But no matter, just more Behar and Essman for me! Joy "So what, who cares?!" Behar instigated a lively conversation with Essman, so much so that you really felt like you were just having cawefee tawk with a couple of yentas. They reflected at length about hustling as female stand- up comics in the '80s, which sounded like a cross between Punchline starring the cast of Beaches taking place along the Trail of Tears. Susie Essman had so many pearls of wisdom to share, for example:

On rambling stories:
" I hate detail- laden stories. Give me 'salient point, salient point, punchline.'"

On Curb Your Enthusiasm character, Susie Green:
"She suffers from high self- esteem."

On how to know if your husband is gay:
"If you catch him blowing the neighbor or reading my book."

On aging:
"I don't give a shit what anyone thinks of me anymore."

Totally! I give, like, 15% less of a shit in my 26th year than in my 25th... by the time I hit thirty I'll be clogging traffic on the sidewalks of Park Slope with my Rascal, wearing a nightshirt emblazoned with a kitten face and emerald rhinestones as its eyes, having ballooned up to 300+ pounds, wearing my hair in two long braids. Age shmage, some of us do not have that far to fall.

You can readily define any individual who deigns to ask a question in the Q and A period of a lecture, can't you? First off, you know they are bold and brazen, I (contrary to popular belief) am debilitatingly shy when it comes to public address, way too shy to pose any questions in front of an AUDIENCE, even if they can be written on note cards and handed in anonymously. I can barely make eye contact with the bodega guy. Here are some stock personalities and their corresponding questions:

1. The Pundit:
"Joy, why didn't you really give it to Ann Coulter when she was on your show?" [Ed. note- That person is an asshole. How dare you criticize your host, about something so trite anyway? Ill- mannered cretin, have you ever turned off Air America and left your apartment prior to that moment?.]

2. The Benevolent Sycophant:
"What can we do as a community to promote women and women comics?"

3. The Rabbi:
"Susie, you say that the acting on Curb is spontaneous, but that you often will shoot up to 25 takes for a single scene. How can one act with spontaneity after 25 takes?"

4. The Comedian:
"Tell me a joke"
Essman's response: "I don't tell jokes. Go fuck yourself."

It was a wondrous night, a star- studded Spectacular of ball- busting, Judaica- referencing (mentions of brisket: 3, shout- outs to the JCC in Boca Raton: 1, discussion of various medical ailments: too many to keep track) Did I mention that I walked directly into the impressively sturdy frame of Dan Aykroyd in the bathroom? I felt so shy! He is Elwood! Also because I was in the men's bathroom... See what you missed, friends?! When the next uplifting cultural event comes around I'm sure they'll be huddled in line at the blood bank trying to sell their platelets.

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