Chelsea Handler interview: ‘Evolution’

“I kind of de-bitched myself,” exclaims Chelsea Handler about the process leading to her latest stand-up special, “Evolution.” For our recent webchat, she continues, “I basically went to therapy and tried to take a lot of the bitch out. I found out a lot about myself. A lot of introspection. Deep diving and digging.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

Now streaming on HBO Max, the program marks Handler’s first special in more than six years. The comic confesses, “I had that experience in therapy and wanted to share it because it was a huge evolution for me. It’s a huge growth spurt at 40, which is a little bit of a late bloomer, but that’s what a mid-life crisis is all about. My therapist really pushed me to the limit. I did not want to do stand-up again until I had something important to say.”

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In the special Handler talks about her therapy. The set culminates in the revelation that her anger in life comes from the personal tragedy of her brother’s death. She says, “My childhood trauma was something that I always laughed off or explained away. I kind of stuffed it away until it became untenable. I had a lot of anger and I did not know why I was angry. Usually anger is hurt. It’s hard to be vulnerable. Anger’s a good cover up for hurt; as well as acting out, deflecting and being funny. That worked for a long time for me and then it didn’t.”

She reflects, “I started to consider the notion of having something traumatic, like your brother dying at nine years old. I started to contemplate if my whole life was a reaction to that. This special was about allowing myself to be vulnerable. It’s very hard to be a stand-up and go more than a minute without hearing that laughter and committing to telling a story. The hardest part was accepting the quiet and sitting still with the feeling. I was just trying to be as present as possible to tell a story. It wasn’t unveiling; it was allowing myself to be vulnerable in a moment where I learnt that vulnerability is strength. And set that example that there’s no shame in trying to change.”

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UPLOADED May 26, 2021 5:27 pm