Handler Talks Life Before And After ‘Chelsea Lately’

By David J. Criblez


Comedian Chelsea Handler tells it like it is. Sometimes her bluntness raises eyebrows, but she prides herself on being direct.

Her brutal honesty is what has made this Jersey girl the alpha female she is today, host of her own TV show on E! (“Chelsea Lately”), stand-up star and best-selling author.

Newsday caught up with Handler, 39, on a day when she was “playing hooky” after her tennis match and just before she was going on a “Breaking Bad” TV binge at her Bel Air home on a break from her “Uganda Be Kidding Me” stand-up / book tour.

Q. Women follow you like a pied piper. Did you have that quality growing up?

A. I’ve always had a big personality. I was trickier as a kid. I behaved erratically instead of consistently. I would have tons of friends and then I would have no friends. I’d be with the cool girls, then the uncool girls. I migrated from group to group because I was bored or people got bored with me. I was very intense.

Q. Do you think your honesty surprises people?

A. I think so. Everybody is shocked by it, which drives me to be more honest and forthright. It seems like such an untapped resource in this town. But it’s serving me pretty well.

Q. How does your “Uganda Be Kidding Me” live show parlay with the book of the same name?

A. A lot of the stories I tell on stage are from the book and some of what’s going on in my personal life. The one thing you can be guaranteed is that the stories are true, even if some are horrifying to retell.

Q. What’s it like having Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow as girlfriends?

A. It’s different, because the culture of celebrity is so strange. They have good attitudes about it. But they are all so perfect-looking, so who cares if they are getting their photograph taken? They are more cautious as to how it affects other people. Sandy and I are planning this trip, and I said, “Listen, Sandy, we are going overseas, we are going to walk down the street and visit museums.” She said, “I know. I’m preparing myself. I’m just saying if the paparazzi find us, it’s going to be the worst trip of your life, and I don’t want to be responsible for the worst trip of your life.” It’s a totally different world.

Q. When you date, are guys intimidated because you are so bold?

A. I’d say I’m intimidating to most men. Some men are just disgusted with me and think I should have my mouth sewn shut. The thing I care the most about is someone who tells the truth … and obviously they have to be good-looking .

Q. Are you worried about turning 40?

A. I still feel like I’m a kid, but I’ve accomplished a lot. I have responsibilities, even though I behave like a teenager three nights a week. I can write books and run a TV show, but DVRing is beyond my scope of capability.

With the late-night TV landscape shifting and Handler’s contract ending at E!, people are talking about whether she will follow Stephen Colbert on CBS in the 12:35 a.m. ET slot next year. (Current “Late Late Show” host Craig Ferguson will be stepping down later this year.) But Handler denies being in the running.

“The next venture for me is not going to be filling someone else’s shoes,” she says. “That’s never been appealing to me.”

Then there’s the rumor that she’s possibly going to Netflix, to which she responds: “Rumors are rumors. I’m meeting with tons of different people. I’m not even exactly sure what my next step is going to be.”

Whatever step she takes, one thing is clear: Handler wants to do something different.

“I don’t want to sit around and talk about celebrities all the time. I want to take it to the next level,” she says. “I want to do the things that interest and move me in a funny, cool way.”

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