As I was pondering who would be the ideal person to close out HudsonMOD’s first-ever Italian issue, I instantly thought of Joy Behar. How could I not? A veritable institution in Manhattan and the Hamptons, Behar isn’t only one of two original yakkers on ABC’s ratings juggernaut The View (creator and television deity Barbara Walters is the other), the progressive darling is also launching a nightly talk show this month on Al Gore’s network, Current TV, just in time for the slugfest otherwise known as the presidential election. I even suggested a name for the show, Left Is Right With Joy Behar—good, no?
When I started telling folks about my plans to interview Behar for our Italian themed issue, disbelief was the instant response. What? Joy Behar? Isn’t she Jewish? Behar, who was born Josephina Victoria Occhiuto, has been married twice to Jewish men and has a quick, comic delivery recognizably schticky to many a NYC audience. But, as Behar points out, “I spoke Italian before I learned to speak English.”
Cultural confusion notwithstanding, I caught up with Behar in her beloved Hamptons sanctuary surrounded by the silence she craves outside of her daily chatty on-air life. As one would expect, as I asked her ten burning questions I wanted to know the answers to, Behar revealed herself to be candid, funny and intellectually curious. I’m a fan. Oy!
Is this the happiest time of your life?
This is definitely a happy time for me. I love my work so much, and it seemed like I waited my whole life to get right here.
If you could add one more host to The View, who would it be?
You mean besides Mario Cantone? [Laughs] I think a Hispanic woman would be great. Salma Hayek would be amazing, just perfect.
Will you tell us something surprising about Barbara Walters?
She loves a dirty joke, my goodness. She’s also exceedingly helpful to so many people. She’s the type of person who will make the calls necessary to help out somebody if she can. It’s a wonderful trait to have.
Why will President Obama win?
I have incredible faith in the American people. I hope at the last minute, the voters will realize who the President was who took down Osama Bin Laden, saved the auto industry, passed health care, avoided a second recession, struck down “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—this President has been an effective risk taker on behalf of the American people.
Why will President Obama lose?
Because the relentless attack machine perpetuates the lies about President Obama. I think Bill Maher—and others like him—is brilliant in pointing out the lies the other side serves up as fact.
If Manhattan is the center of the universe, New Jersey is what?
The sibling, probably the middle child.
Right where I am now, in my bedroom in East Hampton, hermetically sealed from the outside world with a ceiling fan, television set, iPad and phone. I also prescribe to Claudette Colbert’s famous quote: “True happiness is great health and a bad memory.”
Tell me a secret.
The best advice I ever received in my career came from Rush Limbaugh who told me to “be bold,” so I am.
Why do so many people think you’re Jewish?
Not sure, but I do owe my career to the Jewish people for it was in their country clubs that I first got paid for my comedy act. Jewish people and the gay community have been there with me since the beginning.
Does being a former public schoolteacher help you as a television host?
It helps a lot. I always have that in me, you know, the “I’m here to tell you something” thing.