Joy Behar has a lot of moxie. Not many comedians would pause an interview to help her aunt get a leaky roof fixed in Brooklyn before she promotes her gig at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury on Sept. 19. However, that's how she rolls.
"I had to finish that up before I could discuss anything else," says Behar, who lives in East Hampton. "You know . . . priorities."
Behar, 71, spoke about her early years on Long Island, why she doesn't miss "The View" and staying youthful.
You used to teach high school English in Lindenhurst. What was it like being an Italian girl growing up in Brooklyn, then moving to Long Island?
It was tough because I grew up in a tenement with a lot of people in the building and the neighborhood. I was thrown into suburbia, which was very foreign for me. I lived in Babylon with my first husband and then we moved to Centereach because we were both getting degrees at Stony Brook University. In fact, I have this one-woman Off-Broadway show I wrote which I'm going to be doing in New York called "Me, My Mouth and I." It's about my journey and how I maneuvered my way to where I'm at now. Hopefully, people will get a kick out of it.
You spent 16 years on "The View." What was the biggest lesson you took away from that tenure?
I, as an only child, behaved very well with my siblings, better than the ones who had siblings. Let's put it that way.
What made you leave in 2013?
Well, 16 years is a long time to be on a show. I also had two of my own shows while I was on "The View." After you have your own show, it's very hard to be on a panel following other people's rules. It was a tipping point for me. I was finished with that format. I didn't want it anymore.
Did you feel "The Joy Behar Show" was canceled too early?
Please don't remind me. I'm really disappointed in that. I don't miss "The View" at all, but I do miss my own show. We had a lot of fun and we had great people come on. They won't give me another show over there [HLN]. I'm complaining to everybody.
What's your impression of "The View" now?
The show is in flux constantly. Ever since Meredith [Vieira] and Star [Jones] left, they've been changing the panel constantly. Their ratings were soft, so they wanted to get it going again and Rosie O'Donnell certainly brings in numbers. I think the network would like to see some fireworks. Let's face it, all networks want the same thing -- ratings.
You always had a no-nonsense approach on "The View." What do you think will happen on the show now?
That was my role in the family when I was a kid. If there was any arguing going on or an uncomfortable moment, I would be the one to come in with a joke to dissipate all the possible fur that would fly. I kind of picked it up again on "The View." It's possible one of them will emerge in that role. They are going to feel uncomfortable when it becomes too acrimonious and contentious. It's not attractive.
Do you connect well with Long Island crowds?
I think the Long Island crowds are some of the best ever. Some places are better than others and Long Island has always been great. I used to work out at Governor's and the Brokerage. Long Islanders are a lot of fun because they want to have a good time.
How did becoming a grandmother affect you?
When you have a grandchild, you worry about the world. As a kid I used to worry about a nuclear war. In my day they'd say, "Get under the desk!" as if that would save you from a nuclear explosion. I'd say, "Why bring my library books back? We're only going to go up in an A-bomb anyway."
What was it like working with Barbara Walters?
She had an incredible work ethic. That woman never went to the bathroom! I guess that's how she'd one-up Diane Sawyer. You could never say to her that you were tired. She'd say, "What do you mean, you're tired? You finished at noon today, what are you so tired about?"
You also got to work with Woody Allen in "Manhattan Murder Mystery." How did you find that experience?
I played Ron Rifkin's wife, who was supposed to be Jewish. The costume designer said to Woody, "You know she's not Jewish, right?" He said, "Does she know this?"
Why do people always think you are Jewish?
Probably because of my name and my accent. Plus, I'm drawn to Jewish guys. My first husband was Jewish, my second husband is Jewish. Mostly the boyfriends in between were Jewish. Jewish men like funny women and I like their brain.
You turn 72 next month, yet you seem much younger. How is this possible?
I have good skin thanks to my mother. Plus, I think comedians are ageless in many ways. We are in touch with the inner child, which keeps you young.
Do you get blue with your stand-up material?
Oh, yeah. You want to give the crowd a little something that's different from television. They are kind of a little shocked, but that's all part of the fun.
JOY ON JOAN
Coming up through the comedy ranks, Joy Behar always looked up to the late Joan Rivers.
"When I was growing up, there were very few role models for woman comedians and Joan was one of them," says Behar. "You watched her and that's how it was done. She would first make fun of herself, then take a shot at somebody else."
Behar and Rivers were not only bonded by comedy but by friendship as well.
"She was a lovely person and very generous," says Behar. "Once I was out to dinner with Joan and I insisted on picking up the check because she had done it the previous time. She was like, 'No, no, no! All right, you pick up the check, but here.' She handed me a piece of jewelry from her QVC collection. That's Joan."
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m., Sept. 19, NYCB Theatre at Westbury
INFO $39.50-$59.50, 1-800-745-3000, livenation.com