The Chelsea Lately Experience

Sadie McGuire, Entertainment Editor

Late night television has traditionally remained a male dominated field. From Carson to Leno over the years, our nightly satirical news has usually been delivered to us by white haired smart-allacks smirking ever-so-satisfyingly for the big-wigs behind the largest television corporations. But for this generation, the “sharpest tongue in night” belongs to none other than Ms. Chelsea Handler. Ms. Handler has become much more than just a comedienne and expanded her  brand much like the plethora of other modern day ‘celebrities’—but her brand seems to be the anti-Hollywood take on the starlets her home network, E! Entertainment channel, glorifies. Her three bestselling books highlight the wackiest aspects of her life: from her multiple one night stands (My Horizontal Life) and her experience dating a red-head (Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea) to taking psychedelic mushrooms with her brother (Chelsea, Chelsea, Bang, Bang).

She uses words like shadoobie to describe fecal matter, and has a Mexican midget side-kick she affectionately refers to as her ‘little nugget’—Chuy Bravo. All this being said, modest, she clearly is not. But she has been able to capture a whole new audience who is as fed up with this Kardashian-worshiping world as she is. All of this—the T-shirts, the books, the lingo—all started from one little show airing weeknights at 10, Chelsea Lately. Being a fan since episode one, seeing her show live has always been a dream, but a farfetched one. Amazingly, I was able to obtain VIP tickets to her April 4th taping on a trip to Los Angeles for spring break. Hearing this news I practically had a heart attack, but actually walking on the set; I practically need an AED. Seeing the round table, Chuy’s fake lap top, Chelsea’s dog Chunk…it was simply all too much. Our seats were in the second row on Chuy’s side, unfortunately just outside of the cameras scope. But that was the least of my worries; seeing Chelsea & Chuy in the flesh quickly brightened my spirit.

Before taping begins, a comedian instructs the crowd on clapping and cheering rules. One of the unique things about Chelsea’s show is there is no forced laughter. If a comedian bombs, you are by no reason required to laugh. They are well aware that their jokes are tanking. After this pep talk, the comedian allows the audience the opportunity to catch a Chuy ball, a white foam ball that reads on it “I caught one of Chuy’s balls!” Highlight moment: my friend next to me actually catching one! Immediately after, music begins to play (on this particular day the selection included Ke$ha and Rhianna) as the members of the round table are introduced. I’ll admit, even seeing Brad Wollack, one of her writer’s and round table regulars, in the flesh even got my heart going. Next, Chuy is introduced as he waddles across the stage, squeezed into an Easter-egg colored sweater vest. The cheers he receives are possibly more plentiful than Chelsea’s, who is introduced next. The applause for her is still bountiful, though—the crowd loves their potty-mouthed mama.

Another great thing about the show is that the audience is incredibly close to the action. The round table is within spitting distance, and it’s easy to make eye-contact with anyone on stage. All in all, the taping lasts about as long as the actual 30 minute broadcast and runs in the same order: monologue, round table, commercial, round table, commercial, guest (on this particular day, it was Hop star James Marsden), commercial, and closing. While all the comedians were entertaining, it was to the mildest degree. I know for a fact if I had been at home watching, I probably would’ve only cracked a smile once or twice. But being in the audience, my cheeks hurt from smiling by the end of it all. Another less-than-satisfying reality involved its shining star. During commercial breaks, Ms. Fiery and Outspoken Chelsea turned into a sour-puss witch. Her facial expressions screamed “I’d rather be on a beach in Cabo with a bottle of Belvedere right now,” and her protegee Chuy looked more at home in the spotlight than his proprietor. 

Seeing Chelsea at her grumpiest, though, was quite possibly one of the most exhilarating moments I’ve experienced in a long time. And even though I didn’t get to shake Chelsea or Chuy’s hand, second row seats were amazing enough—Chuy and I made eye contact and waved at each other. And I nearly died.