So, I have never been a fan of Chelsea Handler’s brand of ‘comedy;’ I don’t find shock-value comedy entertaining, and call me old-fashioned, but I think that comedians should find witty, unexpected, or dare I suggest, intelligent ways to recite their anecdotes. I also need to find something relatable in someone’s character, something likeable in a performer for me to root for their success. I have watched and read several of Handler’s works, and have found her to be lacking in all of the areas previously described. Recently, I watched her racism episode on her new Netflix series, Chelsea Does, and my opinions of her changed from a mild discontentment in regards to her brand of humor, to a general dislike of Handler as a person.
The Chelsea Does episode failed in so many ways for me; comedy can be used to address racism and discrimination when used appropriately ; satire would be my first (and possibly only) choice. The episode involved segments of multiple, well-known comedians to discuss racism within stand-up comedy and within the entertainment industry itself. This is not done well; hardly any of the comedians has anything of substance to say. I feel like there is no ‘real’ dialogue happening; each comedian is ‘on,’ constantly trying to one-up each other with their witticisms and shock value comments. I guess the lure of potential capital from their exposure on Netflix was too enticing to pass up for these comedians; they treat the time that they have on-camera as if there were an invisible brick wall behind them.
Another segment within the episode involves Handler discussing her comedy with a panel of academics and media-related personnel. I get the feeling that Chelsea was quite nervous to participate with the group, with good reason. A discriminatory comment against the Asian community is soon brought up, and Chelsea begins to laugh her own joke that was made in the past. Her laugh seems forced to me, like she is overcompensating, and attempting to defend her work by proving to the panel that she should be given permission to make these comments, because of how hilarious they are. Handler is later told: “[s]tereotypes are created for a purpose. They don’t fall from the sky. They always are attached to a political agenda. It’s about certain groups being able to dominate other groups,” which should be enough for most to reevaluate their standards. The only response that Handler can come up with is that African-Americans are known for being well-endowed; therefore, stereotypes can’t be all bad, then… right? Her dim-witted remarks about genitalia are answered thoughtfully, and with more patience than what I would have been able to muster. Chelsea still doesn’t get it. Her general defense of her work is that she makes fun of ‘every group,’ so it must be OK.
I am really, really done with this chowderhead.