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This Ombudsman's for You!
Got red eye?
Forget an antihistamine; Andy Levy may be the cure.
He's certainly helped Red Eye, an eye-opener of a politically incorrect comic news creation anchored by Greg Gutfeld. The increasingly popular show airs at the DVR-worthy hour of 3 a.m. on the Fox News Channel.
This ombudsman's for you: The feisty 45-year-old with his eye always ready at the wink, Levy has been serving up sarcasm and sound bytes for the past five years as the show's ombudsman/fact-checker, eager to call host Gutfeld and guests on the faded red carpet for inaccuracies and verbal indiscretions.
On a show of political debate among newspeople, comics and semi-celebrities -- usually with a right-wing bent -- Levy lands his own right hooks with a dead-pan delivery that can be devastatingly devilish.
An unapologetic libertarian -- like host and friend Gutfeld -- whose mischievous mantra is "I apologize for nothing," this political science grad of Columbia University helps make it all politics as unusual on a program where blistering broadsides are interspersed with cracks on Gutfeld's gnome-like height, weird webcam posts of pets in comical positions and conspiratorial conversations between guests.
It is, as Gutfeld once sniveled, "kind of like The View, but with bladder control."
Gutfeld controls the tempo, but Levy holds him in check with his "pre-game" and "halftime reports," and "postgame wrap."
So, what's the rap on Levy, whose esoteric bio includes time served in the miliary as well as war time in the jungles of Hollywood, and keyboard work for singer Dalton Grant?
He and the host, Levy says, live in a time warp: "We have the same warped sensibility," Levy concedes of why he and Gutfeld can gut it out so well on TV. "We make a good team."
Indeed the Jew and the gentile -- "Many people think Greg's Jewish because of his last name, but he isn't" -- seem more like a young old married couple who can communicate nonverbally, finishing off each other's sneers and insults.
And Levy does snare a lot of attention for his droll observations, such as the one he tweeted about this past Christmas: "I just don't remember this many places being closed for the sixth day of Chanukah last year."
Has Levy always been sarcastic? "I think it's a Jewish thing. I have been snarky as far back as I can remember."
But he makes exceptions. "With a first-time guest of the show, I'm less likely to go at it with them," he says.
What he does have a go at is the Internet, typing as quickly as he can on facts and fulminations expressed during the show, checking on their veracity to villify abusers during his "half-time" report.
How did this wholehearted libertarian grow to be so when his roots were seeded in a completely liberal Jewish family? "During my freshman year at Columbia, I became frustrated with the liberal culture" and its leaders. "Their self-righteousness got on my nerves."
He found -- like some others of his political persuasion -- the right stuff in author Ayn Rand's work, a fountainhead of support for those who wanted to be left -- not politically, of course -- alone by government.
He gives a nod to the perfect political home -- as well as a bedtime story gone bonkers -- at Red Eye, which he occasionally hosts as Gutfeld's sub, and "where the hours are perfect for me since I stay up til 5 or 6 in the morning."
Don't mourn for his health, however; the Red Eye guy can get some shut eye: The show actually tapes at 8 p.m., prior to its next-day airing at 3 a.m.
But is it all fair and balanced? Whether it is or not, the balance sheet certainly is successful. Indeed, the FNC is celebrating at the end of January its unparalleled run of 10 years in first place in cable news ratings. (Bill O'Reilly 's The O'Reilly Factor can factor in an additional two years for its own 12-year skein at No. 1 on FNC.)
It seems to be rubbing off on Red Eye, whose numbers have been surpassing -- even at its ungodly hour -- those of some competitors' prime-time ratings, including Piers Morgan's interview program on CNN.
Not bad for an off-the-wall show with no ceiling for political incorrectness as it offers its own "Pop Smears," and video paeans to pussycats. "Greg makes fun of my loving cats," says Levy.
Viewers can get a snidely whiplash from all the sardonic asides tossed around the set.
But, surely, there must have been something he's said over the years that makes Levy feel sorry for being so cynical and snappish.
"I apologize for nothing!" says the comedian who, indeed, has nothing to apologize for.