It's not that Chelsea Handler doesn't enjoy experimenting with drugs. She's been vocal that she does. It's the quaaludes, however, that she'll be abstaining from moving forward. "They're from the '70s for a reason," Handler jokes when she sits down for her Badass Questionnaire, in the video below. "One thing I learned from doing quaaludes at Jane Fonda's house was don't do quaaludes."
Handler's mostly nonchalant and sometimes haphazard approach to imbibing, paired with her penchant for comedic candor, is what steered her down the path she's since lit aflame. She realized she had a gift for comedy during the mandated shares at the DUI class she landed in at 21: her stories were always received with roars of laughter.
From the non-paying DUI class gig, she moved on to a wider audience, ultimately hosting her own late night show, Chelsea Lately, which aired on E! from 2007 until 2014. She's also written six New York Times best-selling books, landed on Time's list of the world's 100 most influential people and, recently, starred in the HBO Max comedy special Evolution, described as her most evolved work (pun likely intended).
"The writing process for my latest special, Evolution, was the most focused I've ever been on a writing project or a standup special," Handler says. "Performing standup for a socially distanced audience was challenging."
In Evolution, Handler dives deep into her older brother Chet's death when she was nine years old and how therapy helped her to realize vulnerability is strength. Mixed in with the raw and tender moments are the seasoned stories of a comic comfortable in her own skin and the introspection of a woman blossoming into her best self.
Now she's gearing up for her stand-up tour, Vaccinated and Horny, which kicks off July 10 in Las Vegas. "Before I go onstage, I sit, and I try and calm my breathing," Handler says, alluding to the anxiety she's struggled with since childhood, and discussed in an essay she penned for InStyle in 2017. "After every show, I either smoke a joint or have a cocktail."
Pandemic dating naturally provided a wealth of material for Handler, who prefers Raya, the exclusive dating app for celebs and influencers, over Tinder. "I have COVID tests at my house, so I administer them as soon as my potential candidate gets to my house. Then I interview him in the backyard during the 20 minutes it takes to run the diagnostics on the test, and if I don't like something he says, I come back and tell him he's positive." Off-the-cuff transparency regarding the intimate details of dating is on-brand for the comedian — she joked about the size of ex-boyfriend 50 Cent's penis on The Late Late Show with James Cordon during the "Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts" segment. She told Oprah she'd met her match in 2013 when she was dating hotelier André Balazs, and she dished on relationship problems and therapy bills in her 2019 memoir Life Will Be the Death of Me.
If you've perused Handler's Instagram, subscribed to Playboy Magazine in December 2009, or caught the star-studded series finale of Chelsea Lately which aired August 26, 2014, you've seen Chelsea Handler naked, and know it's a state in which she thrives. Taking avant-garde nudes with novels and gracing a Playboy cover and centerfold are but mere side gigs for the badass writer, producer, model and comic.
"The secret to good nudes is not taking yourself too seriously," Handler says. She's mastered the art of incorporating nudity into nearly everything she does, from shower sketches with Conan O'Brian to skiing and playing ping pong.
The nudes aren't the only attention-grabbing posts that saturate her Instagram feed, as evidenced by the viral Instagram photo with Harry Styles. The backstory is that she and Styles were vacationing with music industry mogul Irving Azoff and his family in Palm Desert, and somebody gave her a bikini bottom with "Harry" embellished across the rear. "I jumped behind Harry on the sofa and stuck my butt into the frame of the camera. And somebody snapped a picture. It's like any other holiday," she jokes.
Handler doesn't shy away from making the most of any given moment, which has clearly served her well. "My best piece of advice to women wanting to start a career in comedy is to live dangerously and be fearless," she says. Whether baring it all for the sake of comedy, connection, or just inherent candor, Handler is one badass woman who takes her own advice.
Badass Women show up, speak up, and get things done. Dive deeper into the series, here.
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