Curb Your Enthusiasm's Susie Essman likes disagreements, which makes her the perfect host of TV Guide Network's Curb: The Discussion.
The round-table debate, featuring a panel of celebrities, pundits and prominent social figures, will tackle the ethical dilemmas featured on each episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm once the series begins airing on TV Guide Network on Wednesday, June 2 (10/9c).
Watch Jon Hamm and Hill Harper discuss breast implants on Curb: The Discussion
Essman's comfort with confrontation makes her an ideal comic foil to Larry David on Curb. So she was surprised by how much she found herself agreeing with his behavior — and even defending it — on The Discussion. (David, who writes the show, plays a prickly, sometimes confounding version of himself.)
"Usually, I'm watching when I'm in there and acting from my character's point of view," Essman told TVGuide.com. "And when I was watching it for the discussion point of view, I was surprised at how often I was agreeing with Larry. Watching it from an outsider's point of view and thinking about the ethical and moral implications of his behavior, I thought he was right a lot of the times!"
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The actress and standup also talked about The Discussion's high-profile guests, what it's like to improvise her dialogue, and why David's storylines push so many buttons.
TVGuide.com: Who were you most excited to meet and sit down with?
Essman: Jon Hamm. I had met him once, and I am such a huge fan of Mad Men. I just love that show, and he's a hottie, so I was totally excited to meet him. There were a lot of other people I hadn't met as well, like Gloria Allred, for example. I was so happy to meet her because she's such an interesting woman and had an interesting perspective. And then there were people I knew for years and years like Jerry [Seinfeld] and some other comics.
TVGuide.com: How would you describe the tone of these discussions?
Essman: We were very careful in how we cast the panel. We're very careful in trying to get diversity in terms of points of views. Like the psychiatrists, rabbis, actors, comedians, musicians. And we were very accepting of everybody's different point of views and. I didn't like when everyone agreed, so sometimes I was devil's advocating.
TVGuide.com: Any memorable conversations?
Essman: I remember on the affirmative action show, we had a really great panel. We had D.L. Hughley and Adam Carolla, and we just had a great discussion on that one. Larry always does stuff about race that's always so interesting.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think Larry's behavior always gets people talking?
Essman: Larry's behavior is very provocative. Sometimes he's just a jerk and the stuff they come up with is just silly because of what the show is about. But so often it's about real issues, and Larry is always concerned with justice and injustice, as well as the behavior and social moirés we all subscribe to. I think [the discussions are] going to be good television. I hope the audience finds it interesting, and I think they will. I found the whole process so fascinating, and I just thoroughly enjoyed myself doing it because I like good conversation and I like when people disagree with me.
TVGuide.com: What do you think of Curb coming to cable?
Essman: I applaud TV Guide in their choice not to edit it. I mean, I spent 10 days in the sound booth looping my language, and when I saw it, I was surprised that it didn't really make a difference because my anger or intent was still there. It didn't matter whether I said "freak" or "f--k." The thing that they're not taking out is storylines, which they'd have to do to make it a half-hour show. So they're leaving the storylines intact, and Curb is all about stories.
TVGuide.com: What's it like working off an outlined script? Do you ever blank on lines?
Essman: No. You can't blank because you're in a scene. It's the easiest thing in the world, and I love it. It's not just a free for all, willy-nilly improv. It's a very detailed outline, so we know what each scene is about. As an actress I know who my character is, what her relationships to the other characters are, and I know what's happening in the scene and needs to happen. The only thing I don't know is the dialogue. To me it's just easy. I put on those outfits, I become Susie Greene, and I just do it. It's just so much more fun and so much more freeing than if I have to follow someone else's idea of what a character should say.
Watch Curb Your Enthusiasm, followed by Curb: The Discussion, on June 2 at 10/9c on TV Guide Network.