Handler, Chelsea 1976(?)–
Handler, Chelsea 1976(?)–
PERSONAL: Born c. 1976, in Livingston, NJ.
CAREER: Works as a stand-up comedian in various venues, including the Comedy Store, the Improv, and The Laugh Factory, Los Angeles, CA; appeared as a guest star on television programs, including Spy TV, My Wife and Kids, The Bernie Mac Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Reno 911, Last Call with Carson Daily, and specials for E!, and The Practice; performed in stand-up routines for VH1's Love Lounge, Comedy Central's Premium Blend, and HBO's broadcast of the Aspen Comedy Festival.
My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands, Bloomsbury Publishers (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Comedian Chelsea Handler was born and raised in Livingston, New Jersey, but moved to Los Angeles, California, at the age of nineteen to pursue a career in acting. Within two years, she had performed her first stand-up routine—a gig she obtained by sending a tape of herself telling jokes in her living room to the owner of The Improv—and since that time has traveled the country, making people laugh in a variety of venues. In an interview with Jamie Painter Young for Back Stage West, Handler remarked of her early naiveté: "So I had to put a set together, and I had about fifteen margaritas, and I brought every person I knew. I got onstage, and it was 10:30 on a Thursday night [prime time at The Improv] and I was like, 'Listen, this is really nice and everything, but I'm going to need to get earlier sets. This is my bedtime.' I didn't know what I was talking about." Handler was unaware at the time of the difficult of breaking into the stand-up circuit, particularly for a woman; top venues such as The Improv and The Comedy Store rarely gave a newcomer a chance.
Handler's career was soon flourishing. She appeared regularly at The Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard, and performed at a number of festivals, including Canada's Montreal Comedy Festival and the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado. In addition, she made guest appearances on several television programs and as part of various stand-up shows on HBO, E!, and Comedy Central, and arranged a development deal with ABC television. Her act tends toward the raunchy, with jokes about sex, drugs, and relationships. Young remarked that "Handler may not look like one of the boys, but she sure talks like one."
With her first book, My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands, Handler transforms the material from her stand-up act for the printed page. The volume consists of a series of anecdotes about the ins and outs of Handler's sex life and anything that remotely touches on the subject, including the time her older sister convinced seven-year-old Handler to photograph her parents having sex, and a substance-abusing gay friend's behavior at her sister's wedding. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews found few of the stories amusing and referred to the book as "disjointed, lackluster musings on her promiscuous social life, by directionless if cheerful Handler." The reviewer concluded that "it might work as standup, but when transferred to the page this shtick is a groaner." However, Amanda Glasbrenner, in a review for Library Journal, called the book a "collection of offbeat and laugh-out-loud-funny essays." While acknowledging that the subject matter would be inappropriate for younger readers, the critic remarked that "Handler succeeds in penning a smart, funny, and quick read."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Back Stage West, March 18, 2004, Jamie Painter Young, "Not a Girl's Girl: Chelsea Handler," p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter, February 5, 2003, Nellie Andreeva, "Touchstone, ABC Deal Handler Sitcom," p. 4.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2005, review of My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands, p. 334.
Library Journal, April 15, 2005, Amanda Glasbrenner, review of My Horizontal Life, p. 99.
Publishers Weekly, April 18, 2005, review of My Horizontal Life, p. 53.
Chelsea Handler Home Page, http://www.chelseahandler.com (September 15, 2005).
Small Spiral Notebook.com, http://www.smallspiralnotebook.com/ (August 25, 2005), "Chelsea Handler."
Star Telegram Online, http://www.sanluisobispo.com/ (July 3, 2005), Cary Darling, "Tut-Tut, Smut."