She’s vaccinated, she’s horny, and she’s heading to H-Town. Chelsea Handler, the fabulous comedian and longtime LGBTQ ally who is known for her brutal takes on hot topics, love, and life, is getting back to basics with her Vaccinated and Horny Tour, which lands at the 713 Music Hall on Friday, December 10. Over a year after the pandemic hit the U.S., Handler is ready to read everyone for filth, so no one—specifically straight white men—is safe.
Handler’s new set is packed with topical content. “[I’m covering] all the idiotic behavior we participated in during COVID, like Windex-ing our take-out food. Instead of getting COVID, we all probably gave ourselves cancer,” the former late-night talk-show host jests. “My sister invaded my house for three months with her three adult children, which was something I’ve worked very hard in my life to avoid. So I promptly sold my house as soon as they left and downsized to a house where that will never, ever happen again.”
Handler shares a few politically incorrect details about how she kept romance alive during the pandemic. “I had at-home COVID tests at my house, which meant I could test potential penetrators. When things were getting dicey and I realized it might be a long time before we were let out again, I wanted to make sure I kept my juices flowing. I would run the tests in my backyard and the results took about 30 minutes to come in. Within that 30 minutes, if they said anything annoying or I saw a pinky ring (it’s offensive, and people should know that), I would come back out and tell them they had COVID.”
On the heels of her October 2020 HBO Max special, Chelsea Handler: Evolution, Handler plans to keep this show light with her signature snark and wit. “This is back to the O.G. Chelsea. I’m going off on the state of the world,” she says. “I’m getting back to my stand-up roots and tearing into people, letting everyone know what my opinions are, supporting women and marginalized groups. We’re all in this together, and there’s a conversation that’s being prolonged longer than it needs to be because of straight white men’s resistance to this movement. Instead of just saying, ‘Hey, we’re so sorry, let’s move on and make everybody equal,’ they keep arguing about it.”
This comedic force of nature has entered a new personal and professional era, thanks to her open heart, open mind, and therapy. “It’s been a total round-robin for me. All the therapy and personal growth I’ve done has taken me right back where I belong,” she says, referencing her relationship with fellow comedian Jo Koy, who was a regular on her talk show’s dais. “Being with Jo is a reminder of who I am and all the things that make me unique. I’m standing in my strength and being reminded that I have a strong, powerful voice. I wanna make sure I use it in the right way, and make sure people know they can rely on me for that.”
Her new lease on life elicits familiar feelings. “I’ve always shared my truth—what’s going on with me and my life. Seeing everyone’s response to Jo and me being together inspires me to [explore my Chelsea Lately show again, and maybe] doing a Chelsea Later. A few years ago I never would have been open to that,” she admits. “I’ve been a bit of a late bloomer in life [with] my emotional maturity and acceptance of everything. I looked back at Chelsea Lately for such a long time as being so stupid, but then I realized how many peoples’ careers it started and the influence it had. I now look at it in a more serious way and see that it was a meaningful show.”
Handler is continuing to make space for up-and-coming comedians. “I have a bunch of comics opening for me. In Houston, it’s Vanessa Gonzalez, who is this awesome, hilarious Latina comedian,” she says. “Bringing these people on the road and giving them access to these huge audiences has been a great reminder [of who I am].”
When asked about her loyal LGBTQ fans who have backed her since the beginning of her career, Handler considers why her message lands so strongly with the queer community. “I love my LGBTQ fans so much,” she notes. “All the things I’ve talked about—like being outrageous and feeling like you’re the only one, or you don’t fit in—all those themes resonate because we all feel that way. I think the LGBTQ community specifically has always felt like they didn’t fit in. So hearing me, someone who looks like they fit in, but doesn’t feel like they ever fit in, is probably one of the reasons.”
The politically engaged entertainer empathizes with her fans who feel disheartened by the state of the world. “I think it’s so important to remain activated. Disengaging is the least amount of impact we can have,” she stresses. “When you’re feeling disillusioned, match that with action in your community about voting and galvanizing people to vote. It’s the only way to make a difference. Keep spreading information and educating people about how to vote in all the elections, not just the big ones, because that’s where we get screwed up. I know it sounds boring and unsexy. But you know what’s boring and unsexy? Republicans in charge.”
More than a year since the onset of the pandemic, Handler is thrilled to be back in front of live audiences, bringing the laughs and the fans together. “I love being a reason why people are coming back together, sometimes for the very first time. It gives me a lot of joy, and it’s kind of my responsibility as an entertainer to bring laughter and togetherness, and give that to humanity. In my opinion, there’s no better way to do that than to sit in an audience filled with people laughing together.”
What: Chelsea Handler’s Vaccinated and Horny Tour
When: December 10 at 7 p.m.
Where: 713 Music Hall, 401 Franklin St. Suite 1600
This article appears in the December 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.