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First Mover: Joy Behar

The comedienne on people who inspire her and the kind of guests who make her nervous

Photo: Elizabeth Lippman

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Specs
Age
70
New gig Host, Current TV’s Joy Behar: Say Anything
Old gig Host, HLN’s The Joy Behar Show

So what’s the new gig going to be like?
Well, the new gig is something I’m really looking forward to. The title tells you something about the show—Joy Behar: Say Anything—because that was what they told me I could do.


Tell us about the format.
It’s not just gonna be politics on this show, it’s not just gonna be one thing. It’s a little bit of a departure from Current’s lineup, which is pretty much all politics. We’ll have some comedians on, we’ll have some provocative stories. We’ll have a segment called “Holy Rollers,” where a priest, a rabbi and an imam walk into a bar and talk about questions of morality.

That sounds like a joke.
We did it on our other show, on HLN. We get priests and rabbis on who let their hair down a little bit. Catholics don’t believe suicide is a mortal sin anymore. I was raised Catholic, and I was always taught I couldn’t kill myself no matter how bad it got.

Well, don’t change that policy! Who have you interviewed?
[Current founder] Al Gore was one of my guests. One of the things we discussed was how the right wing is trying to steal the election again in Pennsylvania and Ohio. What they’re doing is a disgrace. It goes against every bone in every American’s body.

You’re talking about the voter registration thing.
This voter suppression thing! I don’t see people rushing to vote when they’re not eligible. It’s not like they’re rushing down to Starbucks to get a latte! It should be on every network on a regular basis, and it’s not, and I’m going to do it regularly.

You’ve always been someone who has a lot going on. What else is on the docket for you?
I’m on The View, and I’m doing this show. I have two stand-up gigs coming up, and two lectures coming up.

What do you talk about on the lecture circuit?
My lectures are mostly to groups that are interested in being empowered in some way. I’ve been doing it since I started my career in my late 30s—that’s not midlife exactly, but close to it.

In your speaking career, what points do you try to hit with people who want to feel empowered?
You can change your life as late as your 40s. It’s never too late to have a second—or third—chapter.

What’s the most intimidated you’ve been by an interview subject, and how did you handle it?
I don’t get intimidated—it’s not my thing. The only kind of guest that makes me nervous is one that’s reluctant to speak.

You’re hugely busy. What does your daily schedule look like?
I’m usually up by 7 a.m. and at The View by 9 a.m. After The View taping is over, I microwave lunch quickly and then rush to Current to prep and then tape my second show. I’m done by 5 p.m. and spend the evenings in business meetings, attending screenings and dinners.

Your career has been wildly varied over the years. Is there somebody you look to for inspiration?
People like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart—I call us “fundits”—we dabble in politics but we’re comedians. We’re deliberately funny, unlike politicians, who are funny by mistake.