Joy Behar, an Emmy-winning lightning rod on the ABC-TV daytime talk show “The View,” has earned her place at the highly visible table. She started stand-up comedy “later” in life, at a time when few women dared to get on stage, and went from working in comedy cellars to headlining in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and at major theaters everywhere.
Behar’s success led to her own HBO special, book deals, and a show on HLN, where she often advocated for LGBTQ issues. Her voice “has always carried,” and now, as a full-time East End resident, she is also writing plays.
Behar, a GLAAD award recipient, has continued to speak out on issues affecting the LGBTQ community.
‘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). It’s six blocks from my home in New York City, and during Covid, six inches away [doing ‘The View’ from her home in Sag Harbor] … I’m all about location.
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. If I check their profiles, two words always come up: “Jesus” or “Trump” — as though I don’t love Jesus. I love Jesus, too. I’m a Catholic girl. I was confirmed. I love Jesus, too, so don’t tell me about Jesus. That pisses me off.
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—that’s really where he was destructive to the [LGBTQ] community.
Suffolk and Nassau both went for Trump, and that other horror, [Lee] Zeldin. People who supported him know in their hearts he’s a bad person but they like the tax breaks.
You have always been very vocal about LGBTQ rights — and gay marriage — yet it took you and Steve [Janowitz] a while to get married … what changed for you?
One of my in-laws had a partner who was very ill and dying in the hospital. And my in law was not allowed to make decisions for her partner because they were not legally married. And I thought, “I don’t want that.”
If I’m on my death bed, I need Steve to be able to come in there and sit with me and also be able to talk to the doctors and not have them say, “Oh, you’re not legally married,” which is ridiculous. That was one of the main reasons I wanted to get married. The other reason was I wanted to have a party. [laughs]
When you accepted the GLAAD award [in 2010] for LGBTQ advocacy, you said it “meant more to you than if you were presented with an Oscar” … truth??
I meant it. What I meant was, I actually did something for somebody by being a person who was advocating for a group of people who are discriminated against. And I was able to voice that; I actually did something for somebody. Winning an Oscar means your performance was fabulous — it’s not the same thing.
You’ve done a lot — do you feel happy with where you are now?
You know what I’m proud of? 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 here.