Comedian Chelsea Handler rates up there with Brit Hume among the most acerbic hosts on television, but her persona on E!’s addictive-like-crack chat show Chelsea Lately is downright bubbly compared to what she broke out at a packed Long Beach Terrace Theater last night.
Rarely flashing her million-dollar smile, Handler stalked the stage like a bag lady who’s misplaced her shopping cart, tossed out “Shut the fuck ups” to subjects of her stories and audience members in equal measure and frequently sipped from a cup filled with gimlet-colored liquid the author of the bestselling book Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea assured the crowd was not water. That became more believable as her set dragged on, she appeared sleepier and her act's flow seemed off.
Not that she wasn’t funny. Frequently. Handler dwelled mostly on annoying celebrities, even more annoying babies, still more annoying mothers of babies, one-night stands, bad Asian drivers, her dysfunctional family and—God, will it ever end?—her first brush with masturbation, which involved not a brush but her palm rapidly rubbed wax-on, wax-off style on the crotch of her Smurfette jammies. I thought the four blondes in the row ahead of me were going to cough up vital organs they were laughing so hard.
As promised, her Chelsea Lately sidekick Chuy Bravo made the live equivalent of an onscreen cameo, a treat for the audience, his boss assured, because personal appearances are now rare for the possibly Green Card-challenged Mexican dwarf or little person. (Handler, who demonstrated she has put a lot of thought and sexual fantasy into the subject, corrected that the preferred terms are “nugget” and “little fucker.”).
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Chels and Chu-Chu should give E!’s makeup artist a raise; he looked much older in person, and 33-year-old Handler, as a friend put it, appeared to have been “ridden hard and put away wet.” Anyone who spent decades of their lives in the Ha Ha’s, Yuk Yuk’s and Giggles of the world would. And the drinking probably doesn’t help.
Handler’s friend, co-writer and frequent Chelsea Lately panelist Heather “Long Boobs” McDonald opened the show, and though she is not as natural onstage as the headliner, she did manage to peel off some great lines in an act that centered much more on domestic life than what would follow. Given that McDonald is the married mother of three, that’s understandable. Unfortunately, her impressions of Drew Barrymore, Kim Cattrall and Ali Lohan could only be fully appreciated by audience members who had not seen them before on the E! show.
But it was McDonald who provided the comedic highlight of the night as she hilariously recounted a radio ad she had just heard about ladies night at a pathetic local meet market—ironic given that most of that joint’s clientele seemed to be in the audience and laughing the hardest ... at themselves? As Homer Simpson once said, “It’s so funny because it’s true.”