High Profile: Joy Behar

Joy Behar
Courtesy Joy Behar

An Emmy-winning lightning rod on the ABC-TV daytime talk show The View, Joy Behar has earned her place at the highly visible table. She started standup comedy ‘later’ in life, at a time when few women dared to get on stage, and went from working in dingy comedy cellars to headlining in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and at major theaters everywhere. 

Her success lead to her own HBO special, book deals, and her own show on HLN where she often advocated for LGBTQ issues and gay rights. Her voice “has always carried,” and now, as a full-time East End resident, she is also writing plays.

Behar is exactly the way she appears on television: fierce, funny, fun, and very direct. She also makes a to-die-for lasagna, and gives great parties (which she ultimately hides from, sometimes escaping to her den in the middle of her own party, to watch TV, leaving her guests to wonder ‘Where’d she go??’) Well, here she is…

The View started in 1997 and is still going strong. Did you ever expect this job to last this long?
No–who would ever have thought? I never expect any job to last, but the reason this one is lasting for me, is that it’s geographically desirable [laughs].

Let’s talk about location. In terms of the Hamptons, you’ve moved a few times.
I started with a small, very modest house in Sagaponack, to a less modest house in East Hampton, to an over a 100-year-old house [in Sag Harbor]. I’m almost as old as this house–this house is old!

Why is supporting the LGBTQ community important to you?
I identify with the fact that gay people, once they are out, have to deal with that. They want to be honest, and yet people are out to get them. I find that that’s true on The View. I have been saying things and I have a lot of enemies on the right–people on Twitter, etc., who hate me, hate me, because of my politics.

Now that we have a new president, are you breathing a sigh of relief after Trump or are you still concerned about certain rights?
Well, we have to worry about gay marriage, now that we have Amy Covid Barrett on the Supreme Court [laughs]  … Now that she is on the court, gay marriage is threatened again, Roe v. Wade is threatened again; it’s one step forward, three steps backward. And it’s about Trump because he put three people on the court.

Let’s talk “Coping with COVID.” I think you were the first co-host on The View to say, “I’m staying home.”
March 13 … I came out here and I never left. The thing about me is I’m an indoor person. I don’t go spelunking, I don’t go skiing. The only sport I ever really liked was bowling and that was indoors.

How has it been living on the East End, day in and day out, versus just coming out on the weekends?
I love the Hamptons. I don’t even want to go back to the city. What I like about the Hamptons is that even though it’s a big place–and it is a big place–there is a certain small town feel to it, especially in Sag Harbor.

And when COVID is done…
I had a dream: If it wasn’t for COVID, I’d have a dinner party with Don Lemon and Carl Bernstein and Alan Alda and their wives-in Don’s case his fiancé-and we would talk about politics. That’s what I live for–I love stuff like that. I’m dying to do that. I can’t wait til this Covid is over and everyone is vaccinated and they can come over. 

You have always supported the Arts Community out here, especially as a performer. And now you are a playwright. A star-studded cast Zoom-performance of your short plays streamed from Guild Hall. That was exciting…
You had a lot to do with that because of those Salons in your house.

Aww c’mon ….
It’s true. I want people to know this about you, that you set your place as an entertainment center in your house. I’d bring a little scene to those Salon nights. That started me going with scenes, then I graduated to 10-minute plays, then a full length play and then the LTV Salons you did. They were a place for me to hear a reading of my plays.

You’ve done a lot. Do you feel happy with where you are now?
I’m proud of the fact that for four years I never ever said one good word about Donald Trump. That is what I’m proud of. From the get-go I saw who he was.

A Totally Disrespectful Evening of Short Plays by Joy Behar premiered at Guild Hall.org and can be streamed at guildhall.org/events/a-totally-disrespectful-evening-of-short-plays-by-joy-behar

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