Greg Behrendt Greg Behrendt

First, he was a stand-up comic. Then he became a best-selling author to boot, with the books He's Just Not That Into You and It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken. Now, the gregarious Greg Behrendt has added talk-show host to his résumé, dispensing relationship advice in the matter-of-fact manner that has become his trademark style. Recently, the San Francisco native took time out of his hectic shooting schedule to speak with TV about his new syndicated daytime venture, The Greg Behrendt Show.

TV Is your new show more about Greg Behrendt, the author of He's Just Not That Into You, or Greg Behrendt, stand-up?
Greg Behrendt: Both, if you consider that a perfect blend in the context of the book. Our show's motto is, "Change lives or go home," but it's also meant to be a real fun experience and definitely funny. You'll be dispensing advice that viewers around the country will relate to their own relationships. Isn't that a daunting task?
Behrendt: No. I basically work from a gut level. I approach people as a friend, rather than a doctor or therapist. Whenever we get into situations that are beyond my scope, depending on how deep the problem can go, I'm more than glad to ride shotgun with an expert. My thing is to say to people, "Do you think it's a problem? Why are you letting it happen? What are you going to do about it? We've got somebody here who believes X, Y and Z. Let's rock you together and fix this thing." What about the format distinguishes it from other talk shows?
Behrendt: What's exciting is that it's a hybrid. We're going single topic, but we're going at it with a flare of comedy. We attack a problem in a variety of ways. We'll do a show about single dads and their relationships with their daughters and be like, "Dude, you gotta get your lady on. You're a guy, but you can't use that as an excuse when you need to talk about tampons. You need to get involved in your daughter's life, because she needs you." The marketing pitch for your show has been this: Within the daytime-talk family, Oprah is the mother, Dr. Phil is the dad, Ellen's the sister, and you're the brother. Where does that leave Jerry Springer and Maury?
Behrendt: They're weird uncles in a good way. They've been able to keep their shows on television for a long time. People poke fun at them, but they've created a format people like. That's not my style, but I cast no stones. Do you use your professional relationship-expert powers to alleviate anxieties with your own mate?
Behrendt: What's cool about my own relationship is that when I have a rough spot, I learn from it and then I'm able pass it on. I'm in a relationship with a really incredible woman, and we're really candid about who we are, warts and all. We don't think we're perfect, but we're good at working through it. We acknowledge that a marriage is not a perfect thing. It doesn't have to be, and we work through it. Tony Danza's talk show, which was canceled, had song and dance numbers and "Extrava-Danzas." Does your show have enough bells and whistles to last?
Behrendt: I think that number one, people need to like me. They've got to dig my vibe and if they don't, there's nothing we can do about it. We're going to give them enough variety and enough to laugh at, plus I think we're doing something no one else is doing right now making fun of the problems and helping with the "small stuff." Dr. Phil can handle the big problems. How will you gauge if people are "into" your show?
Behrendt: I think fans of The Greg Behrendt Show will use the word "zesty" a lot. They'll say, "I think I'm feeling zesty today." So if the word "zesty" becomes pervasive in our culture, you'll know you've succeeded?
Behrendt: Yeah, that's my word of the moment. Now that may change, but what we're trying to do right now is zesty.

How is Meredith Vieira doing in her own new daytime gig? Pick up the Sept. 25 issue of TV Guide for Matt Roush's review of the revamped Today.

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