How did you first meet Chelsea Handler?
I first met her doing stand-up at this bar, which why there was even stand-up at this place who knows because the music was blasting and the people there were literally shouting talking to one another. I walk in and I’m ready to go on and I see Chelsea, she is four years younger than me so I think at the time maybe she was 22 years old and I was 26, she was just screaming to the audience about how she wishes she had a boyfriend like Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic”, this is how long ago this was. She was like, “I can’t even get my boyfriend to pick me up from the airport! Who’s gonna let me have the raft?” It was just so stupid. We were both kinda green but I thought, “This girl is really funny,” and she was just so nice. Right away she said, “Hi, I’m Chelsea! You’re really funny, how are you?” acting exactly like how she is now. After that we would see each other on auditions but we weren’t really friendly, I think she remembered me more than I remembered her. Then I didn’t do stand-up for many years between getting married and having kids but I was still in the business writing “White Chicks” and getting parts in shows.
What made you want to get back into comedy?
When my son was around 1 I wanted to start doing stand-up again and wrote a whole new act about getting married and having kids. My act before was about being single so I couldn’t really go out there and pretend I was dating still. Chelsea was doing an all-girls comedy show and I started doing it with her and then when her show was going to become “Chelsea Lately” I immediately emailed her and asked, “Can I submit to become a writer on your show?” and she said, “Yeah, definitely!” I had written for black guys so I knew I could write for a drunk white girl. It was a 13-week commitment and really good pay so I thought, “Alright, I’m gonna hire the nanny full-time and the show will probably get canceled by the end of summer but maybe it will lead to something else and at least I’ll be able to say I had been staffed on a show.” Now here we are 5.5 years later.
You went from up-and-coming comedians to bestselling authors on a hit show together.
I remember the first week of “Chelsea Lately” I was on the third show and that Saturday I was at my mall and this girl said, “I saw you on ‘Chelsea Lately’. Can I get a picture?” The show had only been on literally five times. That next morning I went into Chelsea’s office and told her what happened and she was like, “Oh my God, I have chills! I can’t believe it.”
You talk about how kind and genuine Chelsea is. Is her comedic persona far from reality?
No, that is her. It’s not for the cameras but you can also have a real conversation with her too. She’s not phony and if you ever need anything, she is great. With her you don’t even have to ask either, for example someone had left their iPhone in the office and a person had walked in and stole it. The security came and everything and it was creepy that someone was in our office but within an hour Chelsea had her assistant go and buy that girl a new iPhone. It’s just little things like that where you don’t even have to ask or think about it and she’s just really generous and great.
Any quirks you’ve picked up on from working with her everyday?
She’ll eat very non-breakfast-y food for breakfast, like an arugula salad. We’ll be sitting there and she’ll be like, “Oh, I’m sorry,” and in come these veal meatballs that her brother made for her at like 9:10 in the morning. So that’s kinda weird. I don’t know if people know this but she has a very weird temperature thing going on and she’s always hot so it has to be super cold in the office at all times. When I open for her and when we film I’ll be in the dressing room shaking because I’m so cold. So that’s really weird and she’s been like that always. Let’s see, what else is kinda quirky… Okay, well she wouldn’t want me to tell you this but I will. We have a thing about how I cry at work because I do always cry at work, I’ve gotten better over the years but she can be really sensitive and empathetic too! She can get those eyes waterin’ too.
Is is true she’s not really as big of a drinker as her act makes it seem?
No, she is. [Laughs] I will say though she handles her alcohol really well so I think she’s a little critical of other people who get sloppy. But she can’t have open bars and bottles of vodka everywhere and then be disappointed that some people get a little sloppy!
Do you guys drink on the show?
No, we never drink on the show. I know there seems to be times where we definitely seem drunk and slap happy but we tape at 2 p.m. We definitely have drinks after the show, usually the last show of the week or if it’s someone’s birthday but no we don’t drink at 2 in the afternoon.
“My Inappropriate Life” is your second book. Why did you want to become an author?
As a kid I always thought one day I would write books about my family. There was this writer Erma Bombeck who was huge in the ’70s and ’80s and my mom used to read her books, she was a mom of five and wrote really funny books about being a mother. I just remember thinking, “I could do that!” and now that it has actually happened it’s really awesome. I wrote my first book [“You’ll Never Blue Ball in This Town Again”] when my son was 3 and I remember him coming in and interrupting me when I was writing in the house. It’s just such a great form of memories when it’s all done, having my two books and my stories but it’s been a really exhausting process. I was just saying how I feel like a Girl Scout peddling this book!
What’s the hardest part of the process?
I actually loved doing it but the hardest thing was also having a full-time job on “Chelsea Lately” and three kids. When I decided to do a second book I really had to carve out the time to do it. The majority of the book I wrote over three long weekends. My husband would leave with the kids to go skiing at a place we have five hours away in Mammoth and I took Fridays off so I woke up every morning and didn’t drink for three days, had coffee, bought all my food and didn’t leave the house. It was rainy weekends and I just was poundin’ through it. I wrote other weekends too but I really tried to get huge chunks done and the majority of it finished then just because I really didn’t have the luxury of being able to write during the week.
So your husband’s a trooper through it all.
He is a trooper, he is. I mean, I almost feel like I’m giving him too much credit during this book tour so now I’m like, “He’s not that great!” [Laughs] The thing is, he totally wears the pants though. I still think, “I hope he doesn’t find out I did this!” It’s not like I get hit but we definitely don’t have that sitcom relationship where the guy’s like, “Oh my God, what am I going to get her for the anniversary?” It’s not like that at all but he’s great, he’s here with me this weekend because his mom was able to watch the kids.
Where did you guys go to dinner last night?
First of all, I got a blowout compliments of Blowtique and it was freakin’ awesome! I mean, look how good I look! Then dinner last night was at Old Town Social. Super yummy. We got the duck wings and of course we ate like 10 other things, the cheeses and all of that. It was really good.
How did you two meet?
It was actually a blind date. A guy friend of mine said, “You should meet my friend Peter.” I heard he was tall with a full head of hair and then he had described me as having good boobs and long hair. We finally met at a party but we didn’t know what each other looked like at all before that.
Do you like performing at a smaller venue like Zanies when you’re in town?
Yeah, I really like that I can interact a little bit more with the audience and that it’s more intimate. The laughter is more contagious and rolling versus in a theater. A club atmosphere is really fun and then you can meet people after and take pictures and sign the books so I appreciate doing that too.
Have you found any other comedian’s books that you’ve enjoyed?
I loved Mindy Kaling’s. I loved Tina Fey’s, I just love Tina Fey. She came to the “Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me” show and came backstage. I said, “Really? You watched me? You didn’t just stay for Chelsea?” She was awesome and I think she’s hilarious. Of course all of Chelsea’s books I love and then I like weird books like the one by Mackenzie Phillips. Did you hear about that book? MacKenzie Phillips was this actress that was on a sitcom when I was growing up and she had a consensual boning relationship for 10 years with her dad. So that’s etched in my brain.
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
I used to watch Madonna on Oprah and I used to always say, “One day Madonna and I are just gonna really hit it off.” That hasn’t happened yet but I feel like Madonna and I would drink champagne, like really good champagne, and just talk about life. I love her. I think she would be a fun person to have a drink with for sure.
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