Chelsea Handler changed Las Vegas, and didn’t even have to be here to do it.
A wave of female comedians have come into their own as headliners in the three years since Handler last did stand-up here, instead focusing on her E! network talk show, “Chelsea Lately.”
Next month, The Venetian launches a summer series called “Lipshtick.” Several stand-ups who became more popular as “Lately” panelists are on board, including Heather McDonald, Jen Kirkman and Natasha Leggero.
Handler says she is proud of helping break reporters of “lame questions” about women in comedy. But when they are segregated into a series, does it reinforce the distinction they’ve been trying to erase?
“I’m not in charge of Vegas, I’m just in charge of my own mouth,” she says, then adds, “they have all-black (comedy) nights too, so I guess it’s just keeping everybody in a minority.”
On to the In Charge of Her Own Mouth stuff. In a phone-interview equivalent of speed-dating, the 39-year-old star covered a lot of ground in a hurry, including:
LAS VEGAS, AND DRINKING IN LAS VEGAS
Handler says it’s a lot better to be at The Cosmopolitan for two nights (Friday and Saturday), with one show each night, than to jam two shows into one night.
“I like to enjoy the nightlife and if I do two shows, by the time I’m done it’s already too late,” she says. “I’m bringing a big crew with me. It’s my friend’s birthday so we’re having a big party there. About 15 of us are flying in.
“I definitely drink before the show, especially in Vegas. Everybody’s drinking in Vegas anyway. But I handle my alcohol very well so you wouldn’t know if I’ve had one drink or seven. Or I don’t handle it at all, and you think I’ve had seven when I’ve only had one.”
In Las Vegas, “You have to presume that people have been drinking all day anyway. It’s kind of the perfect place for me to perform.”
RETURNING TO STAND-UP
Handler hit the road last spring to play more than 30 cities with her “Uganda Be Kidding Me” tour, the title drawn from the travel escapades of her fourth book.
“This has been my favorite tour ever,” she says, “probably because I wasn’t exhausted when I started. I hadn’t done it in a long time so I wasn’t sick of myself. I have a whole new hour of stand-up, so it was really kind of invigorating. … I’m really into my material, which I haven’t been able to say for a long time.
“As a stand-up you always are talking about your life in a kind of storytelling fashion, and that’s what stand-up is for me. … I think if you’re a stand-up and you started as a stand-up, you always have something to do. It’s just like (starting) a conversation at a dinner party.”
GIVING UP ‘CHELSEA LATELY’
Handler will leave her E! cable show when her contract expires at the end of the year. Her manager is entertainment-industry mogul Irving Azoff.
“I’m totally burned out on it, that’s not a secret,” she says of the talk show’s seven years. “I just want to do something that’s not talking about celebrities all the time. I want to talk about the world, I want to talk about news. I want to talk about funny stuff, I want to talk about serious stuff (but) I don’t want to be doing what I’m doing.
“I’m just gonna do something else and evolve a little bit more, grow up a little bit more. I’m 39, it’s time to grow up a little bit.
“I think I owe that to my fans and I owe it to myself. You should never keep a job because it’s comfortable, and I’m never going to worry about where my next paycheck comes from. I have a lot of confidence in myself.”
Might the unannounced next chapter include performing in Las Vegas more often?
“I would do it four times a year,” she says. “I’ll see how my weekend goes here. If I’m able to get home in one piece then I’ll contemplate doing a longer stint there.”
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at email@example.com or 702-383-0288.