Chelsea Handler on Move to Netflix: "I Had To Get My Brain Working Again"

Between teasing her fothcoming doc specials and her talk show, Handler addressed the "pretty women can't be funny" controversy.
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Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler gave the TV press a glimpse into her Netflix-era brand.

Sitting solo on stage at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour Tuesday to tease her four docu-comedy specials and a not-yet-defined late night talk show, Handler opened up about her at-times controversial image, the comment that really irked her (here's looking at you, Michael Eisner) and the extent to which she's enjoyed being out of the daily grind. The famously unfiltered comedian remained remarkably reserved about her E! tenure, which ended in an abrupt and ugly manner in the summer of last year.

After a quick and early swipe at the NBCU cable network — she said she "had to get my brain working again" — Handler stressed that she was done ragging on the Kardashian network. "I’ve said enough ... I don’t think anyone else needs to hear me bitch about E!," she told the room full of reporters. Still, she used the platform to justify her prior digs, noting that they were about her talking honestly about how she felt, which has long been core to her brand. She added with a big smile, "That’s the good thing about me — I’m always telling the truth."

Handler suggested she had been very ready to move on and that she’s very much enjoying being removed from the daily news grind for the time being. (She didn't take the bait for a Cosby or Trump joke during the panel.) In fact, she insists she's not been paying much attention to the current news cycle, though she copped to catching Eisner's remarks about how it's "impossible to find" beautiful females who are also funny. No surprise, that enraged her. "It’s just a really stupid thing to say. What, as soon as your pretty, your funny genes get taken away? It’s just such a stupid notion," she said, launching into a more thoughtful rant about how she's witnessed how it can be hard for men to celebrate funny, pretty women: "I think men a lot of times like to celebrate less attractive women who are funny. Pretty girls come along and they’re a little more threatened."

As for Handler's forthcoming Netflix fare, she said she's has been squarely focused on her four feature-length doc specials: Chelsea Does Marriage, Chelsea Does Racism, Chelsea Does Silicon Valley and Chelsea Does Drugs. The latter will include a pot-filled dinner party and a trip to Peru where the comic will do Ayahuasca on camera, but it's the one about Silicon Valley that has her most engaged. "I don't even known what streaming is," she joked, noting that she'll explore her luddite tendencies as well as her frustrations with technology in the special. All four docs will begin with Handler meeting with a psychologist, with whom she can talk through her issues on the particular subject. When it comes to marriage, for instance, she'll open up about how she has a new (positive) outlook on marriage now that she's hit 40.

Once the docs are edited and ready for rollout, she'll turn her focus to the talk show. Until that time, however, she will likely remain fairly tight-lipped. What she did reveal: the Netflix iteration of a Handler talk show will be broader in scope than Chelsea Lately at E!, and it won’t air nightly or live. Though both the rollout timing and the schedule are still a work in progress, she added that the plan is to air the new show multiple times a week. She joked, "I’ll be in your face, don’t worry!"

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