'Greg Behrendt' Wants to Fix You Up
Greg Behrendt may have celebrity carpenter Ty Pennington's hair, but the comic and author is more interested in fixing your broken-down relationships than your broken-down house.
Starting Tuesday, Sept. 12, "The Greg Behrendt Show" launches nationwide in syndication from Sony Pictures Television, offering Behrendt the chance to do that for more than just the people who've read his books, "He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys" (with Liz Tuccillo) and "It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken: The Smart Girl's Breakup Buddy" (with wife Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt).
Behrendt began dispensing his no-nonsense advice while he was a writing consultant on HBO's "Sex and the City," offering script notes from the perspective of a straight man to the writing team, composed of women and gay men. He can also speak to being a single guy, a dumped guy, a rock 'n' roll guy, a recovering-alcoholic guy and now, a happily married guy with two children.
In each episode, Behrendt takes on all sorts of relationships, from romantic to familial to friendly to professional, making practical, actionable suggestions. Although he's now doing it in front of cameras, it's nothing new.
"I found," Behrendt says, "when people ask me questions about relationships, I could not stop answering. I had all this information in my head about how you could be in a relationship and how you could be better friends with people and why you should or shouldn't be at your job."
For his show, Behrendt plans to call on some help.
"I don't have to be the reigning opinion in the room," he says. "We will bring people on who are experts in areas that I'm not an expert on, because I like to hear their opinions. And if I don't agree with them, I'll challenge them, or I'll say, 'I don't know if I necessarily agree with you, and we're at an impasse, but what an interesting point of view you have.'
"Because I'm more like a friend, so I think I can give a friend advice on just about anything, even if that advice is, 'Seek some help.' I feel like a facilitator in a lot of ways. But I also have very, very strong opinions about how your life can be great and how you can get out of your own way in almost any given situation."
In person, Behrendt is a bundle of positive energy. He seems jazzed by everything he's saying, and his goal is to get everyone else jazzed as well. While that kind of energy works well for evangelical preachers, sports coaches and motivational speakers, it could be a little hard to take an hour a day, five days a week.
But, insists show producer Dan Jbara, Behrendt can dial it up or down at will.
"Greg has a unique ability," he says, "to go from zero to 60 and then back down to 10. He'll be running around in the audience, and all of a sudden, he will come back, and he'll be like, 'Wait, wait, let's talk about it for a second.' He takes this room, a crowded audience of 150 people, and he pulls it down to him and the person he's talking to within three seconds."
Those who've read Behrendt's books are familiar with his substance-abuse problems and the unfortunate behavior that resulted from them. While in recovery, Behrendt had a chance to look within, and that fuels his comedy and his writing.
"The reason I became so introspective," he says, "is that I'm sober. I'm a sober guy. I will, by the grace of God, be sober 10 years [in August], and I'm just a thoughtful person."
Whether it's "The Rules" or "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus," we seem obsessed with learning -- or relearning -- the ways in which men and women are different from each other, especially in relationships, and a few of the ways they're the same.
"With men," Behrendt says, "you don't want us to be like you. You asked us for a while to do it, and we all bought purses, and you laughed at us. You told us to cry, and we did, and you said 'Stop,' and we did. What you want to know is that we're listening to you. You want to know that we can cry. You want to know that we'd be willing to buy a purse if that's what makes you happy.
"But at the end of the day, you want us to be ourselves, so it's a fine line. But what anybody wants in any relationship is just communication. People just want to be communicated with and heard."
While he's usually giving advice to women, Behrendt does have something to say to men.
"What men have a tendency to not do is to be focused and honest. They have a tendency to go, 'Ah, I don't really want to break it off because she might get upset.' It's like, 'Dude, man up.' That's what I tell guys. 'Man up. Be the man of the relationship.' Being the man means being honest and being the man is just saying things like, 'You know what, I'm not loving where our relationship is going right now, and I'm feeling bad about it. I want to change it as opposed to drifting off, not calling you, giving you excuses and then bailing.'
"It's about being the man in the relationship."
As to why today's men even need this advice, Behrendt says, "The reason men are the way they are is because they've been getting away with it for years, and that's just the way we've been allowed to be. Everybody rises to the level of the room.
"You raise the bar, people have to, and people are afraid to raise the bar because then they're like, 'Then what? What if I don't get what I want?' 'Yeah, but what if you do? I bet what you get is awesome and better than what you thought you were going to get.' "