Chelsea Handler wants us to know she has our backs
By Nelson Branco
She’s fearless. Opinionated. Sexy. Funny. Relentless. And a bitch. Just how we like our gay icons.
But comedian, author, actor and talk show host Chelsea Handler is one of our greatest allies—and a friend.
Now streaming Chelsea, her zeitgeisty show on Netflix, Handler is focusing on the biggest problem at hand: the international political discourse and meltdown thanks to the joke that is the US administration, a.k.a. Donald Trump and friends.
IN magazine recently spoke to Lady Handler: here are some of that interview’s greatest quotes from one of our most loyal and staunchest supporters. [Warning: Children probably shouldn’t read the following.]
Allied forces! Any liberal-thinking person is going to be understanding of the LGBT—or whatever we’re calling it now—community, and an ally to gay people. You’d have to be a real idiot not to have empathy for a community that is oppressed. I feel like I’m an ally to anyone who is marginalized. I totally get what that feels like—from a smaller perspective. Something as little as being left out in middle or high school from the cool gang: multiply that feeling by a thousand and you’ll definitely be supportive. Anyone with any real-life experience will be a natural ally to the LGBT community or anyone different than you. You can always sympathize with people struggling.
Why Netflix? It was great for me because I was coming off something where I was completely autonomous [on E!’s Chelsea Lately] and I just wanted someone to be in charge of me. I wanted something completely out of my comfort zone, where I wasn’t in charge or calling the shots. I told them, ‘I’m up for anything. I want to learn everything I can about docs, so steer me in the right direction and make it worth watching.’ And they did. They were totally what I wanted them to be. More so, actually. It’s an amazing thing as a woman to walk in and say, ‘This is what I want to do,’ and it happens. It all came to fruition. I don’t want to be bogged down by interviewing just celebrities. It’s not interesting or compelling. If I am going to interview a celebrity, I would rather put Sean Penn at a dinner table with Joe Biden, Selena Gomez and an astronaut. I want to have a compelling conversation in a fun, entertaining way so my audience can get relevant news.
Bitches, I’m aging! It’s not ideal. It’s too bad we can’t just get younger. It’s too bad we can’t start off old and ugly and then peak as we get wiser and younger looking. It should be the opposite. Since I turned 40, it’s been huge in every way. Every cliché you could name happened. I don’t even know what day it is. I went gambling with Will Arnett and got back to the hotel at 5:30 am and I had to be up at 7 am! [Laughs] I was like, ‘What am I doing!? I’m not 20 anymore; I’m 40!’ And then I said, ‘You know what? You are 40ish and you know what you’re doing, so stop bitching and do your thing!’ It’s a different attitude. But at the end of the day, who gives a shit? Do what you fucking want to do.
Branding humour! Comedy and standup is so specific that if you don’t tell the audience the entire truth of what you’re thinking and feeling, the audience will know it’s not real because anyone can smell that a mile away. Standup needs to be personal. If a standup is not being authentic, it’s not funny. As you grow up, your material changes because you do. I don’t think I will ever do standup again because I peaked. I did as much as I could, I won that ring; I got it and I don’t want to go down that road again. I want to conquer something else. With time, you get interested in new things. Obviously I want everything I do [to be] filled with humour because everything is so fucking funny…if you sit back and look at it long enough.
Feminism fuck-off! I’m so sick of people asking me what it’s like being a woman in late-night TV or comedy. Go fuck off. We’re not a new species!
The Madonna feud? Madonna is trying to stay young. I am not. I’m 40ish and I’m not getting a facelift. I’m not trying to collect a paycheque because I can and coast. That’s no way to live. If I’m going to be doing something in this business—and I’m not saving lives or doing anything profound—I may as well make some interesting choices and keep myself interested.
Any regrets? I don’t know what kind of big-scale regrets I have. I don’t think you should have regrets because [that means] you’re living in the past. Yes, I regret people I’ve dated, you know? Yes, I regret getting back together with my ex-boyfriend for a third time—that’s a regret. But do I regret any life decisions? No. I’m pretty pleased with myself.
Politics lately? Politics is the basis of everything on our show. I mean, I can’t ignore what is happening right now in the world. First of all, the comedic value is excellent. On a more serious level, it’s not funny—it’s really fucking scary! I feel like a lot of people want digestible information in a non-scary way and that’s easy for me to do—and it’s what I like to do. I’m trying to make fun of it while it’s happening instead of being scared all the time.
Hope for the future? I spoke with Gloria Steinman recenly and even she said she’s never seen anything like [this retaliation against US President Donald Trump] before—including the feminist movement! It’s going to be a bad couple of years, yes, but the end result is going to be really beautiful. But I will say I’m glad I don’t have children.
NELSON BRANCO is the editor of 24 Hours Toronto newspaper. As a contributing editor, he’s penned pieces for magazines like Hello Canada, People, TV Guide and online sites like Huffington Post. He’s also worked as a TV producer for Breakfast TV, The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News and Sun News Network. You can follow him at @nelliebranco.