Q& A

Talk- show host Chelsea Han­dler had a few sharp words for Guy Davis. CHELSEA HAN­DLER, CHELSEA LATELY

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - Q& A -

For some­one who’s quite forth­com­ing about their pen­chant for booze, their his­tory of one-night stands and their dis­dain for dopey celebri­ties, Chelsea Han­dler has done pretty well for her­self.

The stand-up co­me­dian and best­selling au­thor is only the sec­ond woman on Amer­i­can TV to host a late-night talk show, with her E! Chan­nel pro­gram Chelsea Lately con­tin­u­ing to be one of the pay-TV net­work’s big­gest hits.

Han­dler’s ir­rev­er­ent and un­in­hib­ited take on the world of celebrity and pop cul­ture has won her a lot of fans in Aus­tralia as well, and she’s re­turn­ing the favour by trav­el­ling here to film four episodes of Chelsea Lately in Syd­ney in late Novem­ber.

Be­fore that, how­ever, she pro­vided this in­sight into who she is, what she’s got go­ing for her and why Aus­tralian celebri­ties are prefer­able to Amer­i­can and English ones.

You of­ten hear about late-night talk show hosts be­ing in­spired by talk show hosts of years gone by. Were you the kind of girl who stayed up late watch­ing such shows and think­ing ‘ I’ll do that one day’?

I al­ways watched late-night talk shows and won­dered how many peo­ple on the staff the host was hav­ing sex with. And I dreamed about be­ing one of those girls! I was ac­tu­ally more of a sit­com girl, al­though I loved talk shows and grew up watch­ing guys like Jay Leno and David Let­ter­man. But a talk show was never re­ally my goal – I just kind of fell into this ac­ci­den­tally. Do­ing stand-up, I think it comes with the ter­ri­tory – it’s more of a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion. Al­though the whole point of stand-up is ‘ Great, I only work one night a week and I can drink while I’m do­ing it’. Then all of a sud­den, you’re do­ing a show like mine five nights a week and the drink­ing has to be cut in half! It’s not re­ally what I set out to do but I wel­come it and it’s been a very happy ex­pe­ri­ence.

Given your bit­ing sense of hu­mour, your show could seem like a slightly odd fit for the celebrity-friendly E! Chan­nel.

I think eight min­utes is about the max­i­mum amount of time you can ac­tu­ally watch E! It’s one of those chan­nels you can have on in the back­ground and not nec­es­sar­ily pay at­ten­tion to, which is why I love do­ing this show – it’s so fast-paced and so mind­less that no one, least of all me, can take it se­ri­ously. But one of the things I re­ally wanted to do was make fun of the inanity sur­round­ing celebri­ties, and why peo­ple care so much about th­ese peo­ple they don’t re­ally know. So what I wanted to do on E! was make fun of the stuff E! finds so im­por­tant.

Like a lot of the me­dia, it cer­tainly takes celebrity cul­ture pretty se­ri­ously.

There are not a lot of shows like this, shows that say Paris Hil­ton is an idiot or Lind­say Lo­han is a mess. Some shows will say that but then they’ll have those peo­ple on and be very nice to their face and it all be­comes very syco­phan­tic. I don’t want to have peo­ple on my show just to have them on my show; I’d rather make fun of them and talk about them the way peo­ple talk about them at work. You know, how even though An­gelina Jolie does all th­ese good things she may be evil. [ Laughs] Peo­ple talk like this, so I wanted to get it out there.

And I imag­ine do­ing that would have won you your share of friends and en­e­mies.

It’s done both, prob­a­bly. I’m not re­ally wor­ried about of­fend­ing that many peo­ple be­cause I’m not try­ing to be friends with the peo­ple I make fun of. I’ve had peo­ple like that come up to me and say ‘ Oh, I love the show, it’s so funny’, which is ridicu­lous – if they could hear, they’d re­alise that I don’t love them! But I think peo­ple would rather be on my good side than my bad side at the mo­ment, which is a com­pli­ment.

I was a lit­tle taken aback to learn that you and Joan Rivers are the only women ever to have hosted late-night talk shows.

Well, tech­ni­cally speak­ing, Joan Rivers isn’t re­ally fe­male.

Good point. But I still find it sur­pris­ing that women haven’t made greater in­roads in this area.

I think it’s cycli­cal. There are a lot more suc­cess­ful fe­male co­me­di­ans th­ese days, such as Tina Fey and Sarah Sil­ver­man. But I don’t think com­edy, stand-up com­edy, is gen­er­ally a ca­reer a lot of women are drawn to. It can be a re­ally rot­ten life­style. You tend to find more men do­ing it, which equals more suc­cess in that area for them. But as with ev­ery­thing, women catch up even­tu­ally.

And Aus­tralian audiences can catch up with you when you film four shows Down Un­der this Novem­ber, right?

Yes, it’s our first time in Aus­tralia – there’ll be around 20 of us from the show, a lot of the regulars, and we’re all re­ally looking for­ward to it. Aus­tralia’s like un­charted ter­ri­tory for us, and based on your celebri­ties you seem to have your act a lot more to­gether than, say, Eng­land. And you def­i­nitely have more kan­ga­roos.

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