A Friday night gathering in the Palestra offered fans of HBO’s sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm” the chance to see the show’s most entertaining personalities, sans anxious wacko extraordinaire and show creator Larry David. Jeff Garlin – Larry David’s fat, jolly manager, known as Jeff Greene to “Curb” fans – opened the three-person stand-up show, followed by Susie Essman, known as Garlin’s foul-mouthed, take-no-bull TV wife Susie Greene. Comic veteran Richard Lewis, who plays his high-maintenance self on “Curb,” closed the night by proving, during an unsurprisingly neurotic routine, that 60-year-olds strung high as a kite have as much energy as 20-year-olds. In addition to providing fans of “Curb” a chance to see its stars up close, the night offered dozens of uproarious moments, but was not the all-time-great knockout-hilarious show stand-up comedy fans could have hoped for.

Garlin opened the show sarcastically by offering a hearty thanks to his good friend Dean Burns, prompting a mild smatter of boos from the crowd, before declaring he actually had no idea who Burns was. From there, his routine was aimless, relating personal stories like the time he proposed to his wife at a Neil Diamond concert – a concert that rubbed him the wrong way when Diamond decided to play 45 minutes of Christmas carols. His funniest story described an encounter with Poison Control; after caulking his shower, Garlin accidentally got caulk in his mouth, and it burned. But twice, upon calling Poison Control, (“Help, I’ve got some caulk in my mouth!”) he was hung up on, until a gay employee was finally able to understand him. How ironic, he thought.

But after pulling a note pad out of his pocket several times to look for other comical stories, Garlin clearly did not have an act. To his credit, he admitted this, saying, “I don’t have an act.”

Essman followed and stole the show with a cruder, but relentlessly funny routine that showcased her experience on the stand-up circuit. Setting the tone by describing her menopausal symptoms, Essman praised WebMD for informing her of the reason for her dry vagina and, to double check, she asked the unfortunate mother of a female student in the audience how her symptoms compared. Essman continued to pick on the student and her poor family at the most embarrassing times and also confessed to disliking Rochester and its citizens, claiming one random man even called her a “whore,” unprovoked. She was so disgusted, she told the audience, that she got up off her knees immediately and left that man’s room. Yeah, it was that kind of routine.

But her impressions were the highlight of her performance, both of her Jewish mother, who was unwilling to complement her husband even at his own funeral, and of her WASP friends, who spoke with their teeth clamped, as if fearing a fly-by phallus.

Though less ruthless than Essman, Lewis showed why he has been able to stay in the comic business for nearly four decades. He recalled tales from 30 years ago, recalling the time his old girlfriend shaved her pubic region. It was the 70s and Lewis, baffled, couldn’t recognize it – “What is this,” he wondered, “a Perdue chicken?” On religion, Lewis said Scientology sounded more like a food group and Jesus looks like an Allman Brothers roadie. On sex, he said that when he’s on the bottom he feels like a “Jew oil rig.” His act darted through topics as he darted around the stage. But he wasn’t hyper from cocaine – he claimed to have quit the drug because it almost made him walk to Calcutta. After mulling over how he could possibly be 60 years old, Lewis ended the show with the line he tells his girlfriend after sex: “You’ve been a great audience.”

Fountaine is a member of the class of 2008.



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