Grand Prairie — The crowd for Chelsea Handler on Friday night was predominately female, from late teens to mid-30s. They clearly came to party. The bars at Verizon Theater at Grand Prairie were busy and the lobby was a cruiser’s paradise. As a male friend noted, “There were more hooker shoes than on Harry Hines.”
Handler was in North Texas to promote her latest book, Uganda Be Kidding Me, though she missed the book signing at Half Price Books due to a delayed flight. The book, her fourth, covers her travels through Africa, Europe and the Bahamas with members of her entourage.
But that was just the veneer. Clique comics like Handler are here to affirm your lifestyle. Go see Bill Maher to get your politics bolstered and Joe Rogan to be proud about your bigotry and misogyny. If your parents hassle you about extending your youthful drink-drugs-sex marathon into middle age, Chelsea Handler is your gal. That and, evidently, crapping your pants.
After an opening act of musical humor on football, sex and stereotypes by the Wild Wolf Band, the queen of distain took the stage and held forth on her freeloading sister, children with “a touch of the Downs,” her randy dad, and the etiquette of making faces during sex. What’s a woman to do, asked Handler, when bushiness comes back in style after you’ve had your pubic hairs permanently removed?
You have to appreciate Handler’s self-deprecating humor, pride in a woman’s love of sex, and the empowerment of honestly owning up to yourself. But if a celebrity performer becomes bored with their celebrity lifestyle, does that make for a boring show? In the case of Chelsea Handler, the answer was yes. About 30 minutes into her set, cell phones around me began to glow as people scanned their feeds.
It reminded me of Dave Chappelle’s latest shows. Like him, she’s a comedian famous beyond reason, insulated by massive money, and with no inspiration for material besides herself and her entourage. When the energy lagged, as it did too often, she flashed on the stage screen a photo of three naked elderly men engaged in foreplay. Well, when most of your material is about sex, a mere dick joke won’t do in raising audience engagement.
As the set drew to a close, Handler poked fun at her inebriated memory, showing photos of how her handlers labeled most of her belongings. Why the need to label a microwave “microwave”? Because someone opened it to find a salad and a pair of panties. Burned-out brain cells were also evident with Handler’s need for crib notes on stage.
My review guest, Dianne, an enthusiastic fan of E’s late night news and comedy show, Chelsea Lately, was disappointed. One reason that television comedians tour is to perform material they can’t slip by broadcast censors. As a finale, attendees were treated to five minutes of excruciating detail on Handler’s multiple attacks of diarrhea on a Bahamas beach. “And to think she built up to that,” said Dianne.
It may be turnaround time for Handler. Ratings for Chelsea Lately are down by one-third and her contract with E expires this fall. Just as happened with Chappelle’s Africa adventure, Handler’s travels did not result in rejuvenated material. Maybe South America next?
» Here's video of Chelsea Handler doing stand-up in 2001, when she still worked the comedy club circuit.