Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Chelsea Handler Collection

Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea




Rating: 4 Stars, 4 Stars, 4 Stars, 3 Stars


Just to clarify beforehand, this is not actually a collection. I binge-read four of Handler's books last week when the hubbub was going on about how Heather McDonald was terrified of Chelsea or whatever. I used to catch her show, Chelsea Lately, regularly but would not necessarily classify myself as an avid fan. I watched when I remembered it was on, and found her funny at the time, but was not heavily invested (like I am with my future-BFF Mindy Kaling). So I set out to decide which side I would take in this totally irrelevant high school cat fight being played out in the media.

Given the obvious fact (and the several times Chelsea admits to it) that Chelsea is predisposed to telling gigantic lies, it is hard to know what to believe and what not to believe in any of her books. That did not stop 'Are You There Vodka' from being hilarious. Her childhood is both terrifying and amazing because she is absolutely the girl out behind the middle school smoking and asking you to be a look out one time. Not that she would have really cared if she had been caught, but you know. This one was my favorite, looking back over all of them. It is here I discovered we share disdain for two things: gingers and dogs in costumes. "Dog costumes are right up there with something else I find particularly offensive: sweater vests" (page 151). Oh, Chelsea. Overall, this was an easy breezy read and I finished it in about an hour and a half.

I was less impressed with Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang and I felt like it was told in a way that was more for shock value. Not sure if that's the best way to describe it but there was just something about this one that I did not care for as much. It was still funny, funnier than Uganda Be Kidding Me, but something was a little off. I did, however, highly enjoy the story about her and her brother Glen doing shrooms. I actually laughed out loud reading that one and I hope that story is true because it is a good one.

I know a lot of people felt like 'Lies Chelsea Handler told me was a cop-out and that when Chelsea had a book due on her contract, she conned her employees and friends into writing it for her. I am pretty sure that is what happened here but it doesn't make the stories less funny. This time we are just hearing them from the perspective of the victim instead of the perpetrator. Stories abound of the jokes that Chelsea has played on her friends and staff, time and again. I wonder about the intelligence of some of the people, I mean, Chelsea does not strike me as a terribly trustworthy person, given her own admissions. Why would anyone believe what she tells them, especially while working on her show - one had to feel like there was always the chance you were always being filmed for a segment. I also found this one particular interesting because there is a chapter written by Heather McDonald, who is really the reason I read all of these books in a matter of days to begin with. I mean, I get that Heather is writing a chapter in a book about Chelsea, so she can't say that she is afraid or fearful for her job or whatever she was fearful of when she was on the show, but if she was all that terrified I don't think she would have written on page 73 that, "My relationship with Chelsea was much more like  marriage, only better. Yes, like a marriage, it has its ups and downs. You have to take the good with the bad." She also further uses the marriage metaphor by saying Chelsea has given her better gifts than her husband, taken her on more romantic, better vacations, written her more heartfelt letters, and so on. Sorry but that does not sound like someone who is living in fear of Chelsea Handler to me. And now it sounds like Heather is backtracking and saying her quote was taken out of context so, whatever. She is just looking to stay in the public eye now when Chelsea did not renew the show. The rest of the book had some pretty funny stories, though I admit I skipped the last chapter 'written' by Chelsea's dog Chunk.

I think I would have probably liked Uganda Be Kidding Me a lot better had I just not read three other Chelsea books in the previous couple days. The first story really bothered me though and Chelsea's time in Africa seems like such a waste, just being drunk all the time. This is exactly why the rest of the world hates Americans, this exact behavior. I mean, being drunk and having a good time is your prerogative on vacation and I can't say I did not enjoy my share of Guinness when Mom and I were in Ireland. Beyond that, there were other travel stories that were far funnier - not to say the Africa trip did not have its moments, there were some funny parts. I just did not enjoy the overall tone. One of my favorite moments in this book came when Chelsea was on a flight in first class. The cabin was empty except for one man, who sat right next to her because that is where his seat is. She wouldn't turn off her phone so he 'tells on her'. I love that her response to this was asking him if he was a Scientologist. He probably was. While I did not love this book or laugh nearly as much as with Vodka, the last travel tip from Chelsea is worth mentioning: "And last but not least, go for it. Go wherever you can afford to go with whomever you can get to go with you" (page 255). Amen, Chelsea.

Verdict: Chelsea wins. Be quiet, Heather.

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