“For some reason it was like being tickled,” says Handler. “And my mom, I remember, was like, ‘You’re encouraging it. This relationship is completely out of control.’ And my father would go, ‘There’s nothing we can do. Next came the first of the five books, My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands, and her own show on E! “It was a real tonic to watch, because late-night tradition has always been very tidy, and she’s not tidy,” says Mc Cormack, who became close with Handler after appearing on Chelsea Lately to promote her USA series In Plain Sight.
She will never listen to anybody.’” At 19, Handler decided to skip college and move from Livingston, New Jersey, to her aunt’s house in California to try to be an actress. Now Handler lives down the street, and sometimes Mc Cormack comes home to find her reading the New York Times on the couch, with a fire going. “I became friends with everybody.” Even reliable targets like the Kardashians crossed over.
Handler admits in the series to having done a lot of drugs but never thinking she had a problem — to which, in the “Drugs” episode, The Mindy Project’s Fortune Feimster, a frequent panelist on Chelsea Lately, responds, “Isn’t the person with the problem always the last to know?
” It’s a format that anchors each documentary: Handler sits down with friends and colleagues for frank, topical conversations, Dinner for Five–style, which then launch into more personal explorations, some of which touch on sex, her childhood, and her many, many opinions — like that marriage is stupid, or that she believes being equal-opportunity in her humor by hating on everyone insulates her from accusations of racism.
Schumer imbues nearly all of her show’s sketches with straightforward feminism. So it’s probably no coincidence that after eight years of working on her E!
late-night show, Handler was ready to tackle her most ambitious, socially aware project to date, even if she can’t refrain from delivering a few what did she just say? “I think it’s just responsible, as an entertainer,” says Handler.
A couple of months ago, for instance, Handler chased an Ambien with vodka to show what happens when a person stays awake on that combo (in this case, she’s awful at Twister, feels judged by her pets, and doesn’t remember any of it the next day).
It’s one of the milder scenes in “Chelsea Does Drugs” — later in that installment, Handler learns her friends were once so concerned about her recreational drug use that they considered an intervention, a scene she swears was not rehearsed for the cameras. No,’” she says, and her gravelly laughter echoes across the backyard.
She seems like someone who would be friends with Schumer’s character in Trainwreck up until the moralizing “I’m broken” ending. Apologies are permanently off the table; political correctness is the enemy, which is how Chuy, her beloved little-person sidekick on Chelsea Lately, ended up dressed as Hitler to celebrate Germany’s World Cup win.“Everybody running that network was so fucking dumb, and I didn’t respect them,” she says. “No offense to everybody I used to work with.” Yes, she says, “that’s a wrap on Chuy,” and no, none of this has anything to do with her 2010 split from Ted Harbert, former CEO of Comcast Entertainment Group, which oversaw E! (Handler is single at the moment.) Nor was she interested in the duck-duck-goose of the network late-night circuit, no matter how badly it needs a dose of diversity. It starts filming in May, and will grapple with bigger issues and feature more out-of-the-studio moments.“I don’t want to fill someone else’s shoes,” she says. “I just said, ‘Listen, I’m up for anything,’” she told director/executive producer Eddie Schmidt (This Film Is Not Yet Rated) and executive producer Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet From Stardom), both of whom came up with the format for the docs and shot them consecutively, starting in the spring of 2015, so that Handler’s experiential arc with each subject was genuine. I want you to push me to do stuff I’m not comfortable doing.” This includes meeting up with an ex she hasn’t seen in two decades, confronting a white supremacist, going on blind dates arranged by clueless matchmakers, and ingesting the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca in Peru and enduring the bodily excretions associated with it.This idea of warts-and-all realness is valuable to Handler, as are substances — in the Sliding Doors sense of things, she might not be here today if not for the latter.When she was 21, two years after moving to Los Angeles, Handler was arrested for drunk driving.She responded with an op-ed in the Huffington Post that concluded, “My only goal when I started this show … But, you know, they just didn’t know what to do or how to do anything.