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Lock up the menfolk, hide the booze — Chelsea Handler comes to town!

March 26, 2010

Now that her new book, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, is No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list, I wonder who will play Chelsea Handler in the movie? Oh, wait: Chelsea Handler. After all, she’s first and foremost a comedian, actress and talk show host. I knew there was a reason I hated her.

Hate Chelsea, you exclaim? Yes — well, hate is probably too strong a word. But as a dedicated bookman, I’ve always resented show-biz types who “write” books and promptly leapfrog all the hardworking professional scribes simply because they’re on TV or sell a lot of records.

Yes, I’m talking about the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Tori Spelling, Ray Ramano, Kathy Griffin, Artie Lange – you name it. Imagine how awkward family holidays must have been for long-suffering novelist Tom McGuane back in the days when his brother-in-law, Jimmy Buffett, tossed off bestsellers between tours.

I can think of two exceptions, celebrities who actually deserve to be slapped between hardcovers (as opposed to merely being slapped) by dint of actual literary talent: Woody Allen and Steve Martin.

Back to Chelsea Handler, who, by the way, makes three appearances in Miami today: I take solace in the notion that behind her success and wide smile hides the cliched sad clown, the poor little girl who was laughed at by the cool kids. But nah. Probably not.

After all, she’s a chick kicking butt in the boy’s club of late-night TV with her talk show, Chelsea Lately. Her ex-boyfriend, who she repeatedly mocks mercilessly in the new book, is Ted Herbert, president of Comcast — the company that owns E!, the cable channel that airs her show. And gets away with it.

She’s no Phyllis Diller, either — in December, Chelsea appeared in a nude Playboy spread (and no, I am not giving you a link to it).

Aren’t you starting to hate her, too? Rich, famous, sexy, with a top show and a No. 1 bestselling book and the nerve to make fun of the man who runs the company she works for?!?

Show-biz humor books not being (sniff!) my cup of tea, I have not read Chelsea, but I’m sure we can find plenty of reviews detailing just how vapid they are. So let’s go to Google: Yes…Mmm….oh, there’s Playboy–My word!…Yes: Here we are. Publishers Weekly: “Her essays are packed with enough laugh-out-loud moments to rival a first-rate stand-up act.”

No, wait. What? Okay, let’s try this, from the New York Post: “She’s too clever for words.” Dagnabbit! That’s not what I’m looking for.

Aha! Here’s a review from something called Given the titles of Chelsea’s three books (My Horizontal Life and Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea are the first two) I can just imagine what the Moms will have to say:

“This book isn’t for everyone, especially conservative and religious people.” Uh-HUH! I think not! “But this book is great if you are stressed out… LOVES LOVES this book.”

See I told you– Huh?

What is the world coming to when you can’t trust the Moms? Can’t anyone write in to tell us what a poor writer and general danger to family values Chelsea Handler is?

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Tommy Smart permalink
    March 26, 2010 10:53 am

    OMG! WTF! Why, oh why, is this un-funny hack skank on one of my favorite websites?

    Is the title to the book supposed to be a play on Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang? Chitty, Chitty (replace the C with an S) a cruddy Disney film loosely based on an Ian Fleming novel that I can’t stand either.

    Women and the gays love this chick, so who is going to buy her Playboy issue?

    Ever since this “comedienne” got that show on the not Entertainment channel, dinner parties have never been the same. At some point someone will reference something this Handler, (Handler?, I’d rather strangle-her) said the night before (something lame and insipid, some joke I heard in middle school) and when I don’t laugh they try to explain why she is so funny.

    Sarah Silverman and Lisa Lampanelli are two raunchy hilarious stand-up comics that deserve to have late night shows. (See I like women comics, they just have to be funny)

  2. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    March 26, 2010 11:08 am

    Tommy — Can I assume, then, that you are immune to Chelsea’s charms? Perhaps you can represent the community at the negotiating table.

    • Tommy Smart permalink
      March 26, 2010 10:37 pm

      What charm are you referring to? Her bosom? Big deal, all women have those. Her stand-up routine? BORING. Her inane chat show which amounts to less than gossip and gabbing. Her “career” as an actress? Name one decent part she has played and I will buy her DVD box set.

      Maybe her book is funny. I doubt it. I would be surprised. Almost as surprised as she is that people laugh at her jokes, and I use the word jokes sarcastically.

      I am not going to get into “family values” because that is such an idiotic term. Intellectually lazy, one step down from comparing someone to Hitler. I mean who’s family are we talking about, what era, what country.

      • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
        March 26, 2010 11:18 pm

        Wow, Tommy, you do know it’s Friday, right?

  3. rachel permalink
    March 26, 2010 11:23 am

    I was dismayed at how many people came to BooksandBooks the night of Artie Lange’s appearance as opposed to say, a reading by Campbell McGrath. But such is the way of the world I guess. People like to see people in real life who they see on the t.v.

    I have never watched Handler’s show, and I don’t really have a desire to, but I do applaud her for making it in the late night tv world of men. I wish it was on a channel other than E! but alas, you can’t always get what you want. “comedienne”? Really? Not cool.

    Personally, if I am going to read a funny haha book, I would prefer to read something like David Sedaris.

    • Tommy Smart permalink
      March 26, 2010 10:48 pm

      Yes, “comedienne”. Why so Not cool?

      Why do you applaud her without knowing anything about her work. Because she is female? I would like to see more female talk show hosts, in fact I would say Television needs more female talk show hosts, just of a higher caliber of wit.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      March 27, 2010 11:54 pm

      Let me just put in a word here for the funniest book ever written: Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), by Jerome K. Jerome. I haven’t mentioned this one in, oh, two or three weeks. The world is full of funny books, by funny writers, some of them unjustly forgotten, some faintly remembered: P.G. Wodehouse, S. J. Perelman, Peter De Vries, Dorothy Parker, Roy Blount Jr., Fannie Flagg, Russell Baker, James Thurber, many others. I apologize for there being only one woman in this list — oops, sorry, two. Math never my strong point.

  4. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    March 26, 2010 11:55 am

    Actually, from the reviews of Handler’s book, I get the idea she might be able to write funny essays, ala Dave Barry. But maybe not. I’m impressed, too, with her success against those towering talents of late night TV, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, George Lopez, Craig Ferguson.

    And if I want to read a funny book, then it will be…Mark Twain! S.J. Perleman! E.B. White! Shakespeare! Mother Teresa! The Dalai Lama (what a wacky guy!)!

    We should remember that serious reading, in the sense of trying purposefully to read good stuff, regardless of the genre, was always a minority practice. Even before the webbernet, even before TV — black-and-white TV, even!

    So Campbell McGrath should be grateful for the three or four people who show up for his readings…

  5. Candice permalink
    March 26, 2010 12:45 pm

    I must be one of the few Americans who know absolutely nothing about Chelsea Handler. But I can go on for hours and hours about what a danger to family values one of the other celebrities you mention in your column is–Woody Allen. Yes, he is hilarious. Yes, he is probably a genuis. Yes, he is talented and one of the best at what he does. But what a pervert!

    Sorry, Chelses. You’ll have to work a little harder for those titles…

  6. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    March 26, 2010 1:06 pm

    True, true — but you gotta give Chelsea an “A” for effort. Cultivating the image of a drunken slattern may not be quite up there with almost-incest, but it’s a good start.

  7. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    March 26, 2010 1:07 pm

    And I have to admit I find the cover picture on the new book witty and charming in a really cheap and tawdry kind of way.

  8. Karla permalink
    March 26, 2010 1:23 pm

    I like Chelsea. I watch her show and I think its hilarious. Yes it sucks she is on the E! network but she constantly makes fun of them and they continue to give her a show. Also The Soup and Joel McHale are on the E! network too.
    I have read her first two books, Rebecca has the new one and I will read it when she is done, and I have found them hilarious. And surprisingly well written. She’s extremely sarcastic, she makes fun of everyone and she doesn’t care what people think of her. She’s my kind of gal. Even the celebrities that she makes fun of go on her show. I think she deserves everything she has.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      March 26, 2010 2:17 pm

      And there you have it, ladies and gentleman! The argument in favor of Chelsea, and so well and clearly stated! Thank you, Ms. Karla. The show comes on too late for me, but if one of the books comes my way, I’ll dip a toe in. What I’m not doing is ponying up $60 to see her stand-up at the Fillmore. I mean, I just saw Wilco there for $40. Three hours, two sets, six musicians, great show.

    • Candice permalink
      March 27, 2010 3:48 pm

      Now we all know what to get you for Christmas. Assuming you haven’t already gone out and bought the book, of course.

      • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
        March 27, 2010 4:30 pm

        Oh, no, please don’t. If one washes up on my desert island, I’d pick it up and flip a page or two. But no one should spend money on the thing. Thanks for the thought, though.

  9. Alexis permalink
    March 27, 2010 9:41 am

    Ah, Wilco. What a show….

    I too have never seen her show, and never read one of her books. I did hear her on the Paul and Ron show (but only because NPR was doing their fund drive) and I did find her very funny. It’s not hard to make fun of those guys, but she was also giving her ex-boy friend a really hard time. It is really pretty amazing what she is getting away with.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      March 27, 2010 3:34 pm

      I believe, Tommy’s extreme disdain aside, that she has some talent and may even be able to write a bit. Can be wrong?! And Karla likes the show. So there’s three reliable sources who think she’s funny. I’d give her a try — if there weren’t so many other books on hand, or if I did not hate talk so quite so much…

  10. Connie permalink
    March 29, 2010 3:51 pm

    I’m a little late to this party, but I will say I tried to read “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea” last year, just because the title is so amusing. I read one badly written, completely unfunny chapter and never read another word. Some things don’t translate to the page, I guess…

  11. miaexile permalink
    March 30, 2010 12:43 pm

    “I’m impressed, too, with her success against those towering talents of late night TV, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, George Lopez, Craig Ferguson. ”
    um-Chelsea really doesn’t have much competition at 11pm when she “airs” – she sure as hell beats watching the local news, tho..and there are moments when the show is funny but mostly it’s her ever rotating roundtable full of comedians most of us have not heard of which causes me to tune in – she promotes comedians, much like The Daily Show and Mr Colbert promote books –

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