Next month E! talk show host Chelsea Handler will film four episodes of her show Chelsea, Lately in Sydney.
So popular is this wry comedienne / author-turned-celebrity that tickets for all four shows were snapped up by frenzied fans. As she explains to TV Tonight, Handler has no idea what to expect when she visits Australia. But it seemed like a good idea at the time.
“I’m very excited. I’ve never been,” she said. “Half of our staff are getting to go too so everybody is very excited. The only thing we’re not excited about is travelling on a plane together for fifteen hours trapped. So it better be worth it.”
Handler has been hosting her show on E! since mid 2007, building on the success of her ability for irreverent interviews.
“They asked me if I could take the show to any other country I wanted, so I said ‘Australia’ and then it happened,” she says.
“It was probably because I saw the movie Australia and wanted to make sure it was nothing like that.”
Appearing on a network that glorifies celebrity has afforded Handler a platform from which to gently mock. Her guests have included plenty of Hollywood names, so long as they are prepared to play along.
“We take everything that E! stands for and take the piss out of it,” explains Handler. “We make fun of all the people that E! canonises and talks about, and talks about very seriously. Like George Clooney getting a mosquito bite or whatever. We kind of make fun of everything that represents.”
Some stars are regular fodder for Handler and her ’round table’ of regular comedians.
“The obvious people like the Lindsay Lohans and the Paris Hiltons we make fun of and a lot of people in Hollywood. The Angelina Jolie types –the people that tend to take themselves seriously. We make fun of them and call them out on their nonsense.
“It’s a fun show, very quick, very fast paced. We start the show out with me in a monologue, and then we have a round table with three other comedians on and we all just talk about 5 or 6 topics of the day. Who got arrested? Has David Hasselhoff peed on anybody? Stuff like that.”
Handler says she doesn’t usually take potshots at those who are her guests.
“If they’re really stupid like The Girls Next Door then I can’t help myself. But for the most part you want to treat them with a little bit of respect. If it’s somebody I completely disdain then I wouldn’t have them on the show in the first place. Like the Heidi and Spencer types….”
Lately, to borrow a term, the show has had plenty of Reality TV stars as guests. Personalities from Dancing with the Stars are proving more popular than cast members from Grey’s Anatomy.
“People are so obsessed with Reality TV,” she says. “We’ve been on air for two and a half years in LA, but if I have to see another Reality show in my life I’m ready to kill myself. I mean reading the tabloids every week is bad enough, and you have to report on that to talk about these silly stories.”
And who is to blame for this scourge on American society?
“I usually blame Oprah for everything, but I don’t know that she’s really at fault,” she jokes.
“It’s a vicious cycle because everybody got on board. It started with Survivor which was a legitimate, good Reality show and then somehow it got a lot more dramatic and personal, so it’s not good. It’s not good.”
For her Australian tour, Handler has 8 days in Sydney, five of which are work days. While hoping to see ‘a lot of men, a lot of kangaroos and a lot of alcohol,’ she has no idea who will comprise her guest list yet.
“A lot of the Australians are shooting movies in America. Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman…. So I don’t know who we’re going to find. Hopefully someone fun and willing to have a go at themselves.”
Upon hearing that she already has Aussie fans who would sell their own grandmother to get their hands on tickets, Handler was empathetic.
“If I had my grandmother to donate to that cause, I would, because she was a complete pain in the ass. So I can’t do that. But just let them know if I could give them my grandmother for a trade off I would do that.”
And for those who did manage to get tickets, she has just one piece of advice:
“Lookout, I’m going to be topless!”
Chelsea Handler arrives in Sydney in later in November.