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Susie Essman, the Scene-Stealer Who Makes Larry David Lose It

“There’s no growing and sharing in comedy,” Essman said. “And there shouldn’t be. The comedy is that you keep making the same mistake over and over again.”

She wasn’t a series regular until about the eighth season, but the show changed her life, giving her more visibility as a performer, and a financial bedrock. “I look around my house and I say, ‘this is the house that Larry built,’” she said.

Though “Curb” shoots in Los Angeles, Essman has never lived there. She splits her time between a new two-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side where she eventually hopes to retire, and a home upstate that her husband, a former contractor, fixed up — to the amazement of David, who is not, let’s say, a D.I.Y.-er. She married for the first time at age 53, and has four stepchildren, one grandchild, and a deaf, one-eyed Shih Tzu. “I call him Helen Keller,” she said. “He’s old. He’s cute. I’ll get another one.”

Everyone swears she is not much like her “Curb” character. “Not only is she is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met in the business, she’s one of the smartest,” Lewis said. David added that, in their time working together, “She’s become one of my closest friends. Brilliant and profound when it comes to life issues.”

Essman has been besties with Joy Behar, the comedian, writer and TV host, for 40 years; both suffered from stage fright and still navigated the territorial, male-dominated stand-up scene of the ’80s and ’90s. They’ve had therapy and now help friends work out their issues in a psychodrama group that Behar runs, acting out the bad boss or the undermining sibling. “She’s great at it, like a duck to water,” Behar said.

Over lunch, where Essman was dressed tastefully in a fuchsia sweater, beaded necklace and jeans, she snapped at no one, asked thoughtful questions and cooed at a baby across the way.

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