Witness, if you will, the cast of the Jersey Shore's interview with Chelsea Handler. “I was excited to see what your body looked like in person, and I must admit I’m pleased,” Handler greeted Snookie, MTV's bowling-ball-shaped Guidette. The host immediately progressed to feeling the neo Italian clan's gel heavy coifs and commenting on Snookie's famous roundhouse to the face made famous by the show.
It was an inspired conversation. The Jersey Shore cabal is blessed with a singular sense of humor about the deprecating whirlwind of fame that surrounds them these days, and Handler has built a career on being frank with her party girl lifestyle. After all, one of her three books was titled Are you there Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea. As the only female in the late night television game, lady’s got to be tough. And her show Chelsea Lately, a cross between the standard interview format and entertainment news hash-out, has carved a niche for itself based largely on Handler's biting wit, self awareness and willingness to take it there. It continues to soar in ratings and ad revenue, even from its non traditional nest on the E! network. She’s bringing the noise to Davies Symphony Hall this weekend (Fri/12), so raise your glass to the lady of sass.
San Francisco Bay Guardian: It’s already been quite the year. Which celebrity news story of 2010 have you had the best time covering on “Chelsea Lately”?
Chelsea Handler: I guess Tiger Woods. That story officially started in 2009, but it's carried over into this year. He made my job easy for weeks. I didn't need to think, I just needed to go on line and there would be a new VIP hostess telling yet another humiliating story about him giving her an extra big tip.
SFBG: Your upcoming stand up show sold out real fast in SF- so fast you scheduled a second. The gays just love them some Chelsea, don’t they?
CH: I think they all assume deep down I'm a lesbian. Which I'm not...unless you count college, which I didn't even go to.
SFBG: Is this what you wanted to be when you grew up?
CH: I just knew I wanted to leave New Jersey. I couldn't handle my father humiliating me anymore. I figured I'd either do something in the entertainment industry or take over for Julie McCoy on the Love Boat. I just always wanted to sit on the Captain at the Captain's table. Once that dream died, I went for plan B...not the morning after pill; my actual plan B.
SFBG: I just got done reading “Memoirs of a Beatnik” by Diane di Prima and the author was sharing her sex life in explicit detail even back then in the 1960s. Will the kind of sexually up front, unapologetic humor that you do ever NOT be considered shocking, coming from a woman?
CH: I don't think so. For some people, sure...but there will always be a large percentage of people who think a woman shouldn't talk so openly about those things. I just disagree. Once I figured out what I could pull off in a room by myself, I knew finding a boy to do it with could only make my discovery that much better. Why wouldn't I want to talk about it? If talking about sex saves at least one virgin in her late twenties from carrying out that whole "not before marriage" thing, then my work is done.
SFBG: I read an online review of “My Horizontal Life” that suggested the book might “inspire bad girls to more bad behavior”- but what is a ‘bad girl,’ nowadays?
CH: The only "Bad Girls" I know are the one from that Oxygen show, and they seem really annoying.
SFBG: Your show devotes a large amount of time to celebrity news, or rather, to mocking our obsession with celebrity news. Has there ever been a time when you’ve felt the brunt of paparazzi or had a ridiculous story about you hit the news?
CH: Perez Hilton once reported that I had vaginal rejuvenation surgery. So, there's that.
SFBG: How do you get the celebrity guests on your show to get off the talking points they walked in with?
CH: The person that prepares the interview usually lets the guest know that I like to talk about things that wouldn't normally be talked about on other late night shows. I think they're usually prepared for my sense of humor. I don't necessarily want to know about somebody's new role in a movie, but I would like to know how they got their body or who they porked on set. So I just ask.
SFBG: You’re not exactly tip-toeing around a lot of your guests’ egos on the show- has anyone ever had an adverse reaction to your brand of humor?
CH: Probably, but that's why I don't read my e-mails.
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang Tour
Fri/12 10:30 p.m., $49.50- 75.50
Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness, SF