Comic book

Posted on 21 Apr 2010 at 3:38pm
By RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Gays love Chelsea — and not just because she’s named for a gayborhood

HANDLER WITH CARE | Humorist and ‘Chelsea Lately’ host Chelsea Handler makes two appearance in North Texas Saturday.


WANNA GO TO CHELSEA
Book signing at Legacy Books
The Shops at Legacy North, 7300 Dallas Parkway, Plano
April 24 at 3 p.m. Live show at Verizon Theatre (formerly Nokia)
1001 Nextstage Drive, Grand Prairie. April 24 at 8 p.m.
$45–$70 • TicketMaster.com

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Every night on her E! gabfest, Chelsea Lately, Chelsea Handler delivers her dry wit and snarky attitude with aplomb. Her standup is hilarious enough to be above D-list levels.

But Handler is also an author of three books — her newest funny memoir, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, came out last month — and that, somewhat surprisingly, is when she’s at her best.

Although Handler admitted to Katie Couric that she wouldn’t talk about ugly children on TV, she did say she would in her books because, "your true fans are reading your book." Those same people are likely to be found in front of Legacy Books in Plano Saturday as Handler signs copies. They might also turn out for her live performance at the newly re-christened Verizon Theatre.

Handler’s books are less memoirs than zany essays about her family, her love life and a whole lotta sex. They are so out-there, it’s sometimes hard to believe this stuff happens to an average person.

Then again, Chelsea is hardly that. She ventures into Augusten Burroughs territory — but is a helluva lot funnier.

Handler’s first book is nearly legendary, perhaps because she was less affected by her current state of celebrity. In My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands from 2005, she goes for the comic jugular when she recalls capturing her parents having sex. She was seven and she took pictures. Handler goes on to detail her trysts with one black man whose penis was way too large — and potential bedfellows with penises way too small. Perhaps this is why the gays love her.

Last year’s Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea and this year’s offering are shades of each other but no less funny. Handler’s perfected her disaffected voice in print. She now knows how to translate that blasé who-gives-a-fuck tone from her show and stand-up into literary gold.                  

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For the birds

The promising start to Kitchen Dog Theater’s production of The Seagull comes in the program notes, where director Cameron Cobb acknowledges that bad versions of classic plays weaken their status as classics. Realism is what Chekhov wanted, not melodrama.

"At last!" I think.

Then I sit through two hours of melodrama.

The fault still lies mostly with the play. Call me a Philistine, but the long, countlessly nicknamed characters with Russian names are what really need to be updated — though a genuine reimaginging with cell phones might make   this great "modern" play feel actually modern, too. But I’d even settle for Merchant-Ivory.

Chekhov called it a comedy, but that doesn’t justify Shelley Tharp-Payton’s glassy-eyed parody of Gloria Swanson (something no one since Carol Burnett should attempt). She could learn a lot from Maxey Whitehead, who captures the lyric realism of the dialogue best, mining every bit of humor from the script, which veers infuriatingly toward overt symbolism far too much. This production has its merits, but until someone can improve the play, it’s all for naught.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 23, 2010.

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