Sunday, May 9, 2010

Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea - Chelsea Handler

Sometimes, I think it's quite possible that I live under a rock, completely and totally out of touch with current events and reality. I blame this partially on the invention of the DVR. It means that I only watch certain shows, and that I have not seen a commercial in years (except during the Superbowl). I don't watch the evening news because I can't stand the bias. And, I don't read the newspaper because I hate getting ink on my hands. And so, I continue in my little bubble. Until someone comes along and asks if I've heard of so-and-so, or my opinion on such-and-such. Then, as a result of extreme embarrassment at my ignorance, I run to the library or the internet to learn what I can. And so it was with Chelsea Handler (, stand-up comedian, best-selling author, late-night talk show host, and the unofficially hardest working woman in Hollywood. She's been on the scene for a number of years, but it wasn't until my friend Loana started dropping her name on a daily basis that I started to catch a bit of a clue. I almost even bought this book in an airport bookstore, but luckily, she saved me the $14.99 and lent it to me instead. Handler's latest book is a collection of essays about her life growing up in New Jersey as the youngest of six children. She recounts how her wild imagination and her yearning to fit in enabled her to concoct incredible stories. As she grows older, we learn about her somewhat disastrous dating life and her shallow friendships. Handler's stories are observant, and she certainly has a unique and funny outlook on often dismal situations. But, I did not find this book laugh out loud funny. There were clever turns of phrases, cringe-worthy episodes, and some knowing relate-ability. I did particularly enjoy one essay about attending the birthday party of a "friend" she completely dislikes, and regifting a present that the birthday girl had actually given her. On purpose. I have never seen Handler on television, but she is coming soon to the bay area for a stand-up show and I hope I will have the chance to check her out. I've heard that her dead-pan delivery translates better in person than on the page - and the feminist in me loves to see more women out there recognized for their humor. Handler is no David Sedaris, but I can see myself checking out more of her books for a laugh or two in the future.

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