Joy Behar Turns Tragedy Into Comedy

If there is one thing Joy Behar is cut out for, it’s keeping an audience entertained. Whether she is sitting on a couch cohosting “The View” or discussing serious topics with her guests on her cable series, Behar always finds the humor in a situation. With the holiday spirit in full gear, Behar plans to use her laughter as the vehicle to help those in need after Hurricane Sandy

by Ilyssa Panitz • Celebrity Reporter
joy behar image
Photograph: Current TV

More: You host a show on Current TV called Joy Behar: Say Anything! Are you really allowed to say anything?
Joy Behar: Barring really bad words, I can. I mean, they don’t stop me from talking about any topics I want to discuss. They basically told me I can say anything I want.

More: Is it a completely different type of chat than the stuff you discuss at The View?
JB: Yes, The View is different, but we talk about everything over there, too, and let me say, we have gotten away with murder.

More: Before landing your own gig at the cable network, you were filling in for Eliot Spitzer. I can’t see you sharing the same seat—or microphone, for that matter.
JB: I like Eliot. He is very bright and very smart. All the stuff about Eliot is old news.

More: You are teaming up with Current TV, the UJA Federation and the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan to help people after Hurricane Sandy. Tell me about this special, called Comics with Benefits [Current TV will air an edited version throughout December].
JB: It was an idea to help people who lost everything. We shot two hours’ worth of material, and for many people who participated in this show being there was very personal. They lived in either New York or New Jersey, which got hit hard by the storm.

More: How does a group of well-known comedians bring humor to a tragedy?
JB: That is our job. If you make people laugh, they will spend money, and that was our objective. We are not making fun of the victims; rather, we are making fun of the situation. We are making fun of things like the bromance between Governor Christie and President Obama. Laughter is the best medicine to move forward. When you laugh at a situation, no matter how tragic it is, getting past it suddenly becomes a bit easier.

More: Whom did you call from your little black book to perform and solicit donations?
JB: I called all my friends I have been in the business with for 30 years. We started together at a place called Catch a Rising Star back in the 1980s. Larry David, Susie Essman, Mario Cantone, Colin Quinn, Denis Leary, Steven Colbert—and Jon Stewart was there because he is a Jersey boy.

More: Did anyone turn you down?
JB: Everyone said yes and wanted to help.

More: You are also a newlywed [Behar’s husband is Steve Janowitz].
JB: I am not a newlywed, because we have been together for 30 years [laughs]. I have known him just as long as I have known those comedians.

More: Why, after 30 years together, did you finally decide to tie the knot?
JB: It just seemed like the time to do it. You know, before we die, let’s get married. I did not want to get married on my deathbed, so we decided to do it before that time comes.

More: You also recently became a grandma. Is that the title you like to be called?
JB: My grandson calls me Nana. I am his Nana, and it is the greatest job. I can’t even express it because it is so great. It is one of the greatest things that can happen to somebody. There is a cliché I love, “If I knew that being a grandparent was going to be such a great thing, I would have done that first.”

More: You have achieved so much in your career. Is there anything left you still want to accomplish?
JB: If anything, I am trying to do less. I have two shows already, and I am in the process of writing a play. As you can see, my time is pretty much taken up. If I did have some extra time, I would want to do more live performances. Although it scares me and makes me crazy, I still think it is the best thing to do.

More: Given your successful track record, why would you be scared of something you have been doing for years?
JB: Doing a live performance is never easy. I always say, does Mikhail Baryshnikov know he is always going to leap that high in every performance?

More: Do you have a go-to person you test your material on?
JB: The only way to really test your material is to just do it in front of a live audience. You can’t look in the mirror and do it. You just have to go up there onstage and really work it.  

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First Published Thu, 2012-12-13 00:26

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