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It's The End of the World But Chelsea Handler Still Wants to Get Laid

It's The End of the World But Chelsea Handler Still Wants to Get Laid

In Vaccinated and Horny, the comedian mines the pandemic for comedy gold,  joking about her sex life and offering Out Traveler advice to her queer fans.

It’s fair to say that most of us craved connection once the pandemic started in 2020. At first, Zoom meetings with colleagues and Houseparty happy hours with friends were a novelty, but that feeling of excitement wore off quicker than the buzz around the Clubhouse app. Netflix reported a considerable spike in the viewership of comedy specials between March and April 2020 compared to the month prior. It was clear: we were laughing to escape. While many of us spent lockdown curled up on the couch under a weighted blanket watching films and TV shows filmed pre-pandemic, Chelsea Joy Handler mined her new normal for content. 

That same content ended up in the comedian’s latest stand-up, the aptly titled Vaccinated and Horny Tour. After embarking on her nationwide tour early last year, Handler has brought her sensational comedy prowess to 50+ American cities. With dates set every week into the summer of this year, the television host and New York Times best-selling author is busier than ever. 

But what can we expect from the vodka and cannabis cognoscente on this tour, and what makes this one stand out from her previous work? Enter COVID. While some of her pandemic-related jokes appeared in her most recent critically acclaimed HBO Max special, Chelsea Handler: Evolution, Handler takes it up several notches while sharing her COVID-related anecdotes. 



While stand-up comedians have a knack for turning something so awful like heartbreak, addiction, a public meltdown, or in Handler’s case, a global pandemic, into comedy gold, rarely is stand-up comedy put on the same pedestal as other art forms. If there were ever a time to dispel that notion, it’s now. With a global pandemic and, ergo, our lives in general gone awry, comedians were handed a daunting task. We expect them to push boundaries and blur the line of appropriate/inappropriate, but there’s never a rulebook defining where that line begins and ends. Now, more than ever, comedians are in unfamiliar territory - not just with the coronavirus but with online cancel-culture mobs a few clicks away.

Still, their job is to make us laugh, and during a global pandemic, comedians proved more often than not that laughter really is the best medicine (well besides actual medicine, and the vaccine!). But how far can they push the envelope with vaccine hesitancy, soaring cases, new variants, and deaths reported in the anxiety-inducing news cycle every single day? Is it too soon for COVID-19-related material? Comedy style varies from comedian to comedian, so does “funny” from person to person. It’s intrinsically complex to lure an audience in successfully, set their expectations, and then deliver an unexpected punchline. But as always, Handler delivers. 



While providing guttural belly laughs was the main goal when she decided to venture on tour amidst the global pandemic, safety was also a top priority for Handler. “I take it as my personal and professional responsibility to bring light and laughter to the world, or I should say — to the people who are interested in me bringing them light and laughter,” she tells Out Traveler. “We all acted ridiculously during this pandemic, and for me personally, there are a lot of things I highlight on stage, like Windexing my takeout food for a month straight or giving potential penetrators rapid PCR tests in my backyard.”

Before the vaccines began to roll out at the end of 2020, Handler jokes that her potential hookups had to provide a negative COVID test before seeing her perform in the bedroom. She recounts that she would spend the next 30 minutes — the time it takes for the rapid at-home test to display results — auditioning the wanna-be lovers and if they didn’t say anything to make her “Pikachu” shrivel up, she would invite them inside.

If they were to say something ridiculous, like questioning the validity of masks, she would instead tell them their test results were positive and that they should go home and quarantine. 

When I went to the Vaccinated and Horny Tour during one of her New York City dates, I witnessed a pioneering night for comedy — four hilarious female comics sharing the same stage. Opening for Handler was the farcical viral breakout star of 2020, Sarah Cooper, and Handler’s side-splitting friends Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman; the latter two were there for surprise guest spots. Jen Kirkman, Hannah Einbinder, Mary Beth Barone, and her new lover Jo Koy have also opened for Handler in various cities on the tour. 

While some comedians have punchlines that result in division and controversy, Handler depends entirely on her humor and honest commentary —  both of which have established her as one of the most celebrated comedians of today. 

On days between her tour dates, Handler is busy recording season two of Dear Chelsea, her quasi-serious weekly advice podcast she launched last year on iHeartRadio with the same hilarious edge and wit she’s become known for. Season one had Handler and a slew of celebrity guests offering unfiltered advice to callers on various issues such as dating, divorce, diet culture, and delving into questions like who proposes in same-sex relationships. “I’m very excited for you all to hear this season and see the group of experts and celebrity guests we have lined up,” she tells Out Traveler. So far that has included Jameela Jamil, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lilly Singh, Dax Shepard, Sean Hayes, Mena Suvari, and more. 

When asked what advice she would give to her LGBTQ+ fans still in the closet and fearful of coming out, she had the following words of wisdom, “I would say that there is nothing more empowering than embracing your truth – including who you love and the gender you identify with. I would say that living in any sort of mistruth or misrepresentation of yourself will only cause the need for more healing. You are in charge of your life, and this is the only one we get, so make it count.”

Tickets for Vaccinated and Horny are currently on sale. Dear Chelsea is available on iHeartRadio, and everywhere podcasts are heard. 



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