Her mother, Rose (née Carbone), was a seamstress, and her father, Gino Occhiuto, was a truck driver for Coca-Cola.
Following years as a stand-up comedian (particularly in New York) and WABC radio talk show host, Behar became one of the original cast members of Barbara Walters's ABC television creation, The View, in 1997. Originally, Behar appeared only on the days when Walters was away from the show; ultimately, Behar became a regular co-host, with the panel expanding to five when Walters rejoined. Behar often hosts a segment called "Joy's Comedy Corner" in which she presents up-and-coming comedians. Behar typically joins Whoopi Goldberg in representing the left wing position on The View.