Susie Essman: Jerry Lewis Never Was Funny



Comedian Susie Essman, who is best known for her role as  Susie Greene on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, and comedy scenester Jeffrey Gurian stopped by SiriusXM’s The Ron and Fez Show last week to talk comedy.  Susie had just come back from the Friar’s Club, where they were interviewing her for a PBS documentary on the famous club. After reminiscing about some great Friar’s Club moments, the subject of Jerry Lewis came up, and Essman revealed that she had been invited to a tribute to Jerry Lewis, but refused to go.

“I just came from the Friar’s club cause they were interviewing me for a documentary on the Friars club,” Susie told Bennington. “They were asking about the roasts and the first roast I ever did was Danny Aiello.” The roastmaster at the event was Joy Behar, who was the first female roastmaster in the history of the club. Danny had just done a show on CBS called “Dellaventura” Susie said, “and the reviews were just scathing. Just scathing! And Richard Belzer got up for his act during the roast, and he just read the reviews and Danny started crying.” It was so horrible, she recalled, “and i’m looking straight ahead and Joy said she couldn’t look at me cause she knew we’d get the giggles while he was crying. You know, cause you have to feel for the guy. But the reviews were brutal and Belzer’s just brutal. He read them straight, word for word. It was hilarious.”

After she recorded the interview for Channel 13, Susie was invited to the Jerry Lewis tribute. “I refuse to go,” she said. When Bennington asked her if she was not a fan of Lewis, she straight up said no.  Her decision was based in part, on Lewis’ proclamation that women aren’t funny.  But it’s not the only reason she’s not interested in honoring Jerry.

“I’ll tell you… a couple things,” she continued. “First of all I never was [a fan of his], even before I ever was a comedian. I JUST NEVER thought he was– what am I French? — i never thought he was funny.   And now, he out and out says, with impunity, that no women ever in the history of mankind has ever been funny. I take issue with that.”

What if I said no Italian people are funny, no black people are funny? How does he get away with that saying no women are funny? It’s disgusting.

Essman is not willing to give him a pass for being an old man, and can’t understand why anyone would.  “No, no, fuck that,” she said. “You know what? That’s like reverence for the dead. If you were an asshole in life, just because you’re dead doesn’t mean that you’re not an asshole anymore.”  Part of her would love to ask him, whether for the 31 years that she’s been performing stage and so many people were laughing, “were they all lying to me?” But she’s not interested in confrontation.

“You know what I do with people I don’t like or respect?” she said, “I don’t give them energy.  You don’t get my energy.  I dismiss.”

She later added, “What if I said no Italian people are funny, no black people are funny?  How does he get away with that saying no women are funny? It’s disgusting.”


You can hear the entire conversation with Susie Essman, Jeffrey Gurian and Ron Bennington on SiriusXM’s OnDemand.  The Ron and Fez show airs daily from noon to 3pm eastern time on RawDog Comedy Hits Channel 99.  Follow Susie on Twitter @susieessman and you can follow Jeffrey @JeffreyGurian.

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