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Chelsea Handler interview

No Holds Bar(red) With Chelsea Handler
by Tim Parks

You cannot think of funny lady Chelsea Handler without the words sharp-witted and sharp-tongued immediately popping into your mind.

Of course, some other words crop up, too. In particular her euphemisms for a bodily function and a part of the female anatomy, “shadoobie,” and “pikachu,” respectively; which she trots out nightly on her E! talk show, “Chelsea Lately,” a half hour exercise in laughter, which is a much more effective way to obtain abs of steel than time spent at the gym.

Well, at least that’s how this entertainment reporter justifies his couch potato ways, coupled with a lack of gym time. How my waistline suffers for my art – is it possible to have abs of aluminum…foil? Being a huge fan of her show, I really don’t need to have an arsenal of snacks at-the-ready, since Handler already provides plenty of food for thought, with her biting commentaries on the cult of celebrity and the world-at-large. 

Handler began her refreshing as a Summer’s Eve commercial (you know, like a Fleet enema – but made for a woman) comedic assault on an unsuspecting American populace with a stint on the Oxygen Network’s “Girls Behaving Badly,” a hidden camera prank show, which ran from 2003-2004.

The year 2005 saw Handler reaching into a literal bag of tricks to produce her first memoir, My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands, which proved to be best-selling material. And recently, she proved lightning can strike twice, as her second memoir, Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, ascended to the top of The New York Times Bestseller list.

In 2006, she had a self titled show called…wait, give me a minute, it’s on the tip of my tongue! Oh yes, it was “The Chelsea Handler Show” – phew, good thing I took my Gingko Biloba today. This E! Entertainment show, with its sketches, spoofs and stand-up, laid the groundwork for what would eventually become “Chelsea Lately.”

In between, Handler provided commentary on clips shows, such as “30 Most Outrageous Celebrity Feuds” as a talking head, before she began making jaws drop on a nightly basis with countless oh-no-she-din’t-say-that outrageous moments of her own; which has to be in the neighborhood of infinitum by now.

Presently, Handler has been getting cramps (No, not those kind! Don’t be so misogynistic!) from gripping a pen, with a plethora of book signings, in support of her latest collection of essays.

And be prepared San Diego, she has also taken her stand-up show on the road, and will be performing at Pala Casino in Temecula on Saturday, June 14th at 8pm, with a special appearance by her “little nugget” Chuy, and frequent “Chelsea Lately” guest panelist Heather McDonald.  

So you would think with a variety of TV shows, 2 books, ahem, under her spanks that people would at least figure out her last name is Handler and not Lately. Uh uh, think again! While this seems to be a sad commentary on the problematic dumbing down of Americans, Handler told me during a recent interview that she had a solution for people to get a clue about the discrepancy.

“Um, a Rorschach test?” Handler quipped. “I might just have to change my last name to Lately, because people seem to feel more comfortable with that.”

An area in which Handler feels very comfortable is in the writing of her life, exposing herself more than a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras to collect a suitcase full of beads, and this Girl Gone Wild, hit pay dirt with the abovementioned Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.

Now having the moniker of New York Times No. 1 Bestseller attached to her name (and that’s Handler, not Lately, for those of you with A.D.D.) seemed to be a bit on the surreal side for her.

“It’s so stupid,” she said laughingly. “Well, it is great, but who would have thought that would ever happen? Not me. Apparently, I’m just unstoppable.”

The memoir recants events from Handler’s life, such as being persuasive enough as a child to convince her classmates she was Hollywood-bound to play Goldie Hawn’s daughter in a sequel to Private Benjamin. The book also covers relationships, and will certainly resonate with anyone who ever had to feign being on a honeymoon with their father, in order to be upgraded to first-class. Wipe that judgmental puss off your face – like you’ve never done that, or at least toyed with the idea.

Of course the book is also a love letter to her self described “higher power,” vodka. And if Handler had her druthers between a man or Grey Goose making for a better relationship – which one do you think would emerge triumphant?

“Well, men are always better than vodka,” Handler explained. “But they go hand-in-hand, so one’s really not welcome without the other. I mean that would require me having sober sex, and that’s not something I’m prepared to do.” 

Seeing as Handler procured her book’s title from Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret – I thought I’d throw out a few possible follow-up titles to her, to see which one would stick, so to speak.

The choices were: Forever…Drunk, Supershadoobie and Tales of a Fourth Grade Pikachu.

“By the way, that was an option, Tales of a Fourth Grade Pikachu!” Handler informed me about the last made-up title. “My girlfriends and I all went out one night to come up with the title of the book, and that was one of the suggestions.”

When I expressed my pleasure at being literally on the same page, Handler replied, “’Cause you’re a gay man, you can’t help yourself!”

And from there, she extolled the virtues that made Blume a controversial fixture in the school library.

“Judy Blume was a very naughty girl,” Handler wisely stated, before she threw out her own batch of faux Blume tomes. “How about There’s A Bat In My Pikachu? And then there’s Fat Fuck 5.”

This last one made me lose it, and Handler suggested “pull yourself together, pull yourself together!” So, on went the professional hat at a jaunty tilt, natch.   

Perhaps she should have Blume as a guest on “Chelsea Lately,” as Handler described what types of guests make for interesting interviews, and one that missed the mark by a country mile.

“My favorite interviews are, like, hot, sexy women that are really outspoken,” she explained. “Women that talk and say shit, and that are willing to tell funny stories at their own expense.”

And, on the opposite end of that criterion …

“And the worst interview was Tila Tequila, she’s about as interesting as a food scale,” Handler described.

Another staple of Handler’s guest roster is bringing out guests from the ’80s, because she is “obsessed with them!” A few months back, she had Mindy Cohn (Natalie) from “The Facts of Life” on; and in fact, she is personally going to get all of the low down on the backstage “Facts” shenanigans from Cohn soon.

When pressed for a phone call back upon receiving the dirt, Handler stated, “I work the same way as Wolf Blitzer, we have very similar reporting styles – so I won’t make a confirmation until it’s confirmed.”

Other guests fall somewhere between best and worst, and into a whole separate terrain – odd. When Handler interviewed “I Love New York” personality, New York, she came to the set with Vaseline coating her legs.

“Those were very scary,” she revealed. “I’m surprised she didn’t fall right off the chair!”

Then there are those guests who feel compelled to bring their hostess food.

“Well, I had Coolio bring me chicken and gravy, and I was like, ‘I don’t think so buddy! That’s not going in my mouth!’” Handler recanted.

Surprisingly, or maybe not so much, Carnie Wilson also brought something to nosh on.

“Yes, she brought me leftovers from her stomach surgery,” Handler joked. “Don’t you just want to polish that off with a brownie?”

And, if that didn’t make you hungry – there is a certain rolling-around-on-the-floor-and-eating-a-hamburger-while-drunk actor, she wants on the show.

“I would love to have David Hasselhoff on,” Handler admitted. “People who are ridiculous, and take themselves way too seriously, in a fun way, are always entertaining. David Hasselhoff is like a total jackpot, for so many reasons – but only in his Speedo from ‘Baywatch,’ because that’s the only way I could look at him.

“What a package, what a package!” Handler exclaimed “I’m assuming he’s single, or that’s just what I tell myself so that I can sleep at night.”

Speaking of celebrities, even with “The Hoff’ being mentioned in the same breath (oops, I forgot, one is not to “Hassel The Hoff”)…if there were a real-life version of MTV’s “Celebrity Deathmatch,” Handler selected a few candidates she’d like to see compete and reasons for them to be torn limb from limb.

“Paris Hilton and Tara Reid, I’d like to see go at it,” she said without hesitation. “Tara Reid, because she’s just so hard to look at; and Paris, because she’s just so hard to listen to.”  

Surprisingly, she didn’t list Tori Spelling among those to be slated for a two-celebrity-enter-one-celebrity-leave type of brawl, as she has referred to her on-air as “Mr. Tori Spelling.” When I mentioned that Handler must be ecstatic that Spelling will be returning to her old “90210” stomping grounds, she quickly included her onto the list.

“I’d like to see her fight pregnant with Paris Hilton! She is so ridiculous, her and her fucking pregnant body – that face, I cannot look at that face anymore, it looks like a horseshoe!”

I wonder if Handler’s aware that recommends Spelling’s recent tell-all, sTORI Telling, for customers who bought her book? Oh, the irony! But, I am sure it would elicit a patented “suck it” from Handler.

As you can see, Handler definitely pulls no punches when it comes to the “hot mess” celebrities and subject matter she takes aim at on her show, even if it means biting the hand that feeds.

“E! tries to tell me, ooh, you can’t talk about Denise Richards or Dinah Lohan, when they have shows that are debuting,” she said. “And I’m like, ‘Listen guys, the reason I have a show on E! is because of people like Dinah Lohan and Denise Richards!’ So you can’t forbid me from talking about them, that’s retarded.”

Handler did give props to the watch-ability factor of the second episode of Richards’ show and of the full-run of Lohan’s show, as she put it, “I think that show will do great, because you can’t believe there’s a 14-year-old girl, like Ali Lohan, behaving like an 85-year-old from Boca Raton.”  

Hopefully, Handler isn’t a vegan, because her slaughtering of sacred cows would just be a perfectly good waste of meat! This no-holds-barred approach isn’t just subscribed to the celebrities she skewers on her TV show, when performing her stand-up act.

“There’s just more self deprecating, my stand-up is more self-centered – so I talk about myself a lot more,” she explained. “There’s only so much you can make fun of celebrities, before you want to slash your eyes out. So, I make fun of myself a lot more. You have to have the perfect balance.”   

And Handler is in the midst of a balancing act right now, with the book tour, stand-up appearances, plus her show; I still had to ask what fans can expect next from her.

“Nothing! With the book tour, I still have to do a bunch of press for it, so I’m pretty wiped out. I have the show, and it takes up 5 days a week,” she recounted. “I’m going to take a break, so I’m not in everybody’s faces all the time, and overdoing it. I think it’s nice to come out every once and awhile, and then hide. If people want to see me, they know where to find me – I don’t want to just show up in their living room unannounced.”

And to get info on Handler’s stand-up show, on Saturday, June 14th at 8pm at Pala Casino in Temecula, log onto  But to have her show up unannounced in your living room, either leave a bottle of Grey Goose on your front porch with the door unlocked, or tune into E! weeknights at 11:30.      

Published Thursday, 05-Jun-2008



Published Thursday, 05-Jun-2008

About timparksmediaho

I am a self professed Media Ho, which is the nicer version of being a Media Whore. My mother actually inspired me to come up with the term

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