By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Chelsea Handler threw a wrench into the greasy Hollywood machine with her Chelsea Lately show on E!. Three years later, the sassy blond comedienne sits pretty as one of the most watched women in Hollywood and a three-time New York Times best-selling author. We caught up with her over the phone from her L.A. home.
City Pages: Your Minneapolis show sold out so fast, they had to add a second. The Twin Cities seem to be in love with you. Do you reciprocate?
Chelsea Handler: My best friend Hannah is from there, so yes! So we're doing two shows and a book signing after each, and it's going to be great, and I'll have Hannah by my side to show me the ropes of Minneapolis. Do you guys have ropes there?
CP: Yep, you'll learn them in no time. You always say what no one would ever dare to. Any regrets about going too hard on someone?
Handler: I'm kind of used to myself on air now, so anything I say is pretty much what I mean to say—no regrets. I do things that really embarrass myself but it's usually off-camera. I try to keep those things in the privacy of my own city block.
CP: What guests do you have the most fun with on the show?
Handler: I like when I have girlfriends on, like Jenny McCarthy, or Mary McCormack, or Sofia Vergara from Modern Family—she'll come on and say anything. Julie Bowen is great, too. I like guests who don't take themselves too seriously; obviously that's what the whole show is about. It's awesome when a guest can come on and can just have a good time.
CP: I'm going to say the name of a past guest, you tell me the first word or phrase that comes to mind. Ready? Kathy Griffin.
CP: Demi Moore.
CP: Perez Hilton.
Handler: Mean. He always says, "Oh, she's not 35" on his blog about me and it's like, how old do you honestly think I am? As if I would lie about my age. He can't say I'm not funny, he can't say I'm not successful, so he has to be like, "She's just old." Please. I don't have a single wrinkle and by the way, your hair's purple.
CP: Speaking of rivalries, did you take a side in the Conan/Leno debacle? What'd you think of all that, being a host yourself?
Handler: I didn't take a side because they're both really great guys and Leno's been really great to me since I started my career—I was on his show doing standup nine years ago. So, I didn't really say anything about it although it was a tough situation. I just tried to keep my mouth shut. For once.
CP: All three of your books have been ranked on the NYT best-seller list. What'd you do when you found out?
Handler: The first one was pretty amazing; I called my then-boyfriend [and boss, Comcast CEO Ted Harbert] and he was crying, and then I called my dad and he was crying, so I had two grown men on different phone lines crying at the same time. That was pretty much the pinnacle of my life. This time, I called my dad and my sister. I just wanted one book to be number one, and to have my other two come up to be two and three is pretty awesome. I don't know how I'm ever going to beat this, so I probably won't write another one.
CP: What's your favorite book of the three?
Handler: Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang is probably the funniest—it's the most current in my life so it's more about who I am right now. There's a lot of stuff in there about my ex-boyfriend who I'm no longer with—and when you read the book you realize why—and there's a lot about my dog that I got, Chunk, and becoming one of those people I hate who have animals. And as a bonus, there's a part about me discovering my body as an eight-year-old and not getting enough of myself. Lots of good stuff.
CP: What do you consider your most triumphant moment on Chelsea Lately?
Handler: We're coming up on our 500th episode on April 13, and I don't know what we're doing for it yet. The whole idea with our show is: Do the opposite of what anyone expects.
CP: So no balloons and confetti and self-congratulating like most shows?
Handler: Nah, we'll probably just let [assistant] Chuy do the show or something. Then it will be really disappointing.
Chelsea Handler plays the Northrop Auditorium on April 3 at 7 and 10 p.m. For the extended interview, log on to our new arts blog at dressingroomblog.com