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Posted: July 24,
Chelsea Handler isn't careful, her career may infringe on her time and
opportunities to have
trysts. The pretty New Jersey native has been quite busy
making a splash in the world of stand-up comedy, doing sold-out gigs all
over the US. She is one of the stars of the Oxygen Network comedy
series Girls Behaving Badly. She also has a recurring gig as a
special correspondent for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
she has written her first book. My Horizontal Life: A Collection of
One-Night Stands (Bloomsbury USA) is just what it sounds like; Handler's
funny tour of the modern sexual minefield. Using her life as a guide,
she spins hilarious yarns about past meaningless affairs, whether good, bad or ugly.
Wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, she gives you a whirlwind ride of virile
midgets, gay gynecologists, male strippers, closeted leather junkies and
Chelsea was on vacation, but she took a little time to phone us about the book
and her career.
How did you
originally get into stand-up comedy?
I moved out to LA when I was about nineteen to
become a famous actress. I realized that there was a lot more competition
than I had bargained for. You know, with the perfect girls. There were
girls that were prettier and skinnier and all Ė the whole thing. I was
like, well, shoot; I better do something other than try and become an
actress. I wanted to do something to kind of set myself apart from
everybody. I figured Iíve always had a big mouth, so stand-up would be a
good idea, although I was petrified. Itís not an easy thing to get up in
front of complete strangers and just try to be funny. So, I think I had
about 50 margaritas before my first set. The Improv on Melrose was the
first time Iíd ever done stand-up. I sent a tape in of me doing stand-up in
my living room about waitressing, because that was the only experience I
had. I had been waiting tables for about two-three years in LA. They
called me back and said, ďWe love your tape. Come down and do a set on
Thursday night.Ē I did it and Iíve been doing it ever since.
How did you
get into Girls
Badly Ė they actually had seen me doing
stand-up and asked me to come in and audition for them. It was kind of the
perfect first big job for me, because itís all improv and itís all on your
toes. You never really know whatís going to happen in any situation.
Thatís my thing Ė I almost prefer improv rather than scripted
stuff, because itís so much fun to be in the moment and you can say
anything. Well, not anything. Sometimes I have to be told to keep it
But, itís a pretty much free-for-all. Itís real fun, when
youíre in the moment and youíre in these crazy situations trying to convince
people to do ridiculous and ludicrous things. So it was a perfect fit for
me. We just wrapped our fourth
season. It ended up opening a lot of other doors. It also helps with
your stand-up, too.
Was that how you
caught the eyes of the Tonight Show
and started being a correspondent for them?
The Tonight Show
actually saw me at the Aspen Comedy
Festival. They booked me to do stand-up on the Tonight Show.
The people were familiar with Girls
Behaving Badly and they thought this would
be a great way to have [me] come on every couple of weeks.
Because if you do stand-up, you go on maybe every three or four months. If
youíre lucky. Itís great because itís all improv too.
the correspondence pieces Iím doing, you go out and you interview people on
the street and itís very in the moment. Itís very improvisational. Itís
really, really a good gig, all the way around. Plus, they serve you
cocktails at the Jay Leno show, which they do not do on Girls
something right thereÖ
Thatís a BIG bonus.
Do you come up with
the ideas for the pieces, or do they suggest them to you?
We kind of talk about it together. They come
up with things that are happening around the country. Basically, their
theme is to be a fish out of water. Put me in situations
that I would never, ever be in naturally. The last one just did was
covering a square dancing convention on Oregon. That airs this Wednesday
The last one I
saw was when you went to the line waiting for
Right, that was very fun.
doing some serious multitasking right now Ė you have the stand-up, the TV
appearances, the book and now a book tour. How hectic is your life right
The last six weeks have been
pretty insane. Itís been the busiest time of my life, so far. Iím grateful
for it, because Iíve been working for it for so long. The book tour has
just been amazing. Iíve been going to cities that I never normally would go
to. Iím able to incorporate my stand-up. Iím able to go do stand-up and
then do book signings after. Most authors just do book signings at Borders
and Barnes & Noble. Luckily, I can go and do a
club in front of 400-500 people, as opposed to a Borders, where sometimes
only 15 or 20 people show up. So itís a huge advantage to have the
stand-up. I never, ever dreamt of being a stand-up comedian. By doing it,
itís opened up so many doors for me. Itís been just an amazing experience.
Itís something Iíll never stop doing. Well, I mean, hopefully when Iím not
that cute anymore, I won't put anybody else through that torture, but...
now itís okay. Thereís nothing attractive about a 75-year-old up on stage
telling jokes, especially a woman. Iíll have to stop at some point.
Well, Phyllis Diller
still does it, doesnít she?
Actually, somebody just gave me her CD. Thatís
funny you say that.
The book is very
funny, but does it feel a little weird letting people in on some very
Yeah, I mean itís obviouslyÖ probably postponed
anybody proposing to me any time soon. But, I just wanted to write a bookÖ
Like I was writing the book and there were definitely some chapters I
thought twice about putting in there. Because I thought I donít want to
just write this book and make me look funny or make me look cool or like I
just get guys Ė whoever I want. I wanted to put the most humiliating things
that have happened to me, because I wanted it to be an honest book and I
didnít want to be tooting my own horn. I
it to be very self-deprecating, because thatís how I am. Very
self-deprecating. The stories were all storiesÖ you know there are stories
that arenít in there. Iíve gotten calls from guys that arenít in the book,
going, ďwhy arenít we in the book?Ē Itís like, listen, this isnít a
free-for-all. I have had plenty of experiences. I wanted it to be, above
all, a funny book, because Iím interested in reading funny books and I
didnít want it to be one of those romantic play-by-play books that you read
about lovemaking. Thatís not interesting to me. I wanted to do something
that I would be interested in reading.
When guys have a lot
of one-night-stands it is considered a badge of honor, but itís not the same
for women who usually hide it when they do it. Why do you think itís such a
know. I think thatís changing a lot. I think thereís a stigma that goes
along withÖ You know, the funny thing is that men think that when they have
sex with a woman on the first night, that oh, well, sheís not marriage
material. Or maybe thatís not the type of girl I want to go out with
again. What guys donít understand is that weíre doing the same thing. If
weíre having sex with
on the first night, weíre probably not that interested in seeing you again
My experience has
been that when women donít want to see me again, they usually donít want to
sleep with me, either. So I must be doing something wrongÖ
written a book that is greatly about sex, do people suddenly treat you like
youíre Loveline or
Dr. Ruth and come to you with all these sex questions?
Yeah, itís funny. I mean, a
couple of the events Iíve been doing on my book tour, Iíve been to like
eight different cities in the US and Iíve been getting a lot of questions.
A lot of times, if itís a speaking engagement, when itís not at a stand-up
club like I had an event at Henry Bendels in New York, when itís a speaking
engagement I had all these girls asking me what to do. One girl was fooling
around with her boss, and she didnít know what to do. Another girl had a
one-night-stand with one of her best friends and was asking advice. Then,
my sister was sitting in the background going, ďOh, my gosh. This is so
funny that youíre giving people advice.Ē
(laughs) It is not meant for an advice
book at all. I donít feel like Iím anybodyís role model. God forbid. If
Iím youíre role model, then youíve got bigger problems. I didnít want it to
be like that. I just wanted to share some of my stories. I just wanted it
to be about the stories that happened to me, and share them. If anything,
itís like, okay, Iíve had all these one-night-stands so that nobody else has
to go through what I went through. (laughs
I know you said you
are in New Jersey now. Are you visiting home?
Yeah, we just had our family summer vacation in
Marthaís Vineyard. Iím back in New Jersey today and fly back to LA
has your family reacted to the way they were portrayed in the book?
They all have very good senses of humor. Weíve
all grown up with each other, and theyíve known me my whole life. Theyíre
not really surprised by anything
I do. People are always asking, ďWell, what do your parents say?Ē My
parents think itís hilarious. My sisters couldnít be any more
different than they are from me. They are very quiet and conservative. My
father thinks itís so funny that Iím so out there and just have no qualms
about letting all my dirty laundry hang out. He thinks itís great. Heís
like, ďGood for you. Good for you for being a woman and not being timid
about it.Ē I think he feels also that I can get away with a lot more
because itís a funny book, and in my stand-up, when I talk about men and
one-night-stands; itís all in a funny tilt. Itís not serious. I think that
he likes that aspect of it, because heís a very
funny person. He likes the fact that I can take a humiliating experience
and make it funny.
One chapter I really
enjoyed was the one where you went home for your sisterís wedding, because
it is kind of rare for women writers to acknowledge that they really arenít
having a good time at a wedding. Why do you think that weddings are of such
mythic importance to many women?
I know what you mean.
Everything has gotten so carried away. Itís so about the attention put on
the bride. Itís not just a wedding anymore, itís the year leading up to the
wedding. The big bachelorette weekend, then itís the wedding showers, of
course and then itís the speeches at the wedding. It seems to have lost
some of its sheen. I feel like, if youíre getting married, youíre so
blessed to have found somebody that you like so much, someone that you can
spend your life with Ė donít push it.
(laughs) Donít go
register for your own gifts. Buy us gifts. Weíre still single. Go buy me
a ceiling fan or a bottle of vodka. Whatever. I feel like itís
gotten very carried away. When I get married, if I canít afford to pay for
everyone to come out there to the wedding, then Iím not going toÖ Iím not
going to do it until I can do it the right way, until I have the money to do
it. Because everybody who goes to these weddings ends up bitching about
it. It totally backfires. I donít want to get married having people at my
wedding talking about me behind my back. Going, "Can you believe we spent
this money or that money." No, I want everybody to be happy to be there.
Thatís why every year I have a huge birthday party and I make sure
everything is included. I donít want anyone complaining. I donít want any
gifts. No gifts. Just come and booze it up with me. Thatís all I care
about. Good quality alcohol time.
What would upset
your father more, if you brought home the midget or brought home George W.
Ummm, I donít know. Would
the midget be black or white? (laughs)
It doesnít matter.
Okay, why not blackÖ
I think heíd be more upset
by the midget. Even though heís not a Bush supporter, I feel like he may be
a little bit closeted about his support for the Republican Party. Heíd
never admit it to any of us, butÖ He definitely didnít vote for him. I
know that. I donít think he voted for anybody. I think he just stays out
of it. But thereís definitely a gray area with him, because he wonít come
out and Bush-bash, like, you know, a lot of other
people will. Iím very suspicious. (laughs)
noticed that you had a tendency to refer to a lot of the guys by nicknames Ė
the midget, the Turtle, Thunder. Were you protecting the innocent or just
forgetting the names?
No. I mean I did have a lot of nicknames. I
did definitely have to change names. I changed everybodyís name except for
my ex-boyfriend Peter, who personally requested I use his real name.
I changed all the names. Legally, I had to.
I mean, some of these people I havenít spoken to since. Most of them. So
you canít have them coming back and suing you and saying very clearly,
obviously you were describing me. You have to kind of do that legally. But
the nicknames Ė Turtle, Dumb Dumb; all those nicknames are true.
I think one of my
exes may have roomed with Dumb Dumb (the nickname Chelsea gave to a former
roommate). How do two such different people end up living together and how
did you keep from going crazy?
I think eventually I did go crazy. I think we
both went crazy. We were the odd couple. We were so different. We met
waitressing at a restaurant. We had a very sisterly relationship. Weíd
fight like cats and dogs and the next minute be like, okay, letís go to
dinner or go to the movies. It was very sisterly like that. We could be
yelling and screaming at each other and the next minute weíd be talking like
nothing happened. I felt kind of like she was this little inexperienced
person and I tried to help her with her social life and bring her out. So
sheíd come see me perform all the time at the Improv or wherever I was
performing. We got on well for a period of time. It wore out, obviously,
because we are so different. And we arenít related. So at some point, you
have to be like, okay, this is not working out. Itís ridiculous. But it
was a fun experience. She gave me a lot of material.
Were there any
experiences that were just too weird or embarrassing to write about?
No, I think I put the weirdest and most
embarrassing stories in there. There is definitely a couple that I didnít
get to put in and Iíll probably put in the next book. But I wanted it to be
the most outrageous stories.
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