Chelsea Handler is not funny and she’s offensive on top of that. Her stale jokes about Lupita Nyong’o, Sidney Poitier, and the late Nelson Mandela during her Oscars takeover of the Huffington Post Twitter account are just the latest testaments to her mountain of non-funniness.
The Oscar tweets in question reference Angelina Jolie wanting to adopt Nyong’o and Poitier; Handler made another joke that fell flat about Mandela being resurrected. Good jokes about Jolie’s adoptions expired about five years ago and laughs at the expense of Mandela’s recent death are just tacky.
It’s quite possible for non-black comedians to talk about race and specifically about black people without being racist or racially insensitive. Louis CK is a good example of that and Bill Maher hits the right note most of the time, but Handler has not yet figured out how to talk about race without coming across as racist.
Her brand of humor often centers on black male rappers and the prevailing stereotypes about them. When she hosted the MTV Video Music Awards, she started the show by being patted on the butt and otherwise sexually harassed by a slew of black men (she eventually straddled Rick Ross) and during her monologue she referred to Kanye West as the big black elephant in the room. On her show, Chelsea Lately, Handler regularly interviews black men (again, lots of rappers) and peppers them with “edgy” questions filled with stereotypes.
She’s going for irreverent and punchy, but most of the time it just comes off as ridiculous. Handler completely jumped the shark when she started dating rapper 50 Cent. After their relationship ended, Handler’s critics were provide plenty of fodder for their concerns about her racial insensitivity.
On Howard Stern’s radio show, Handler talked a bit about their break-up. “I think I called him the worst thing you could say to a black person short of calling him the n-word. I said something like you’re like a street person basically. Something along the lines of being a gangster, and it was really, really offensive and I hung up and I’ve never spoken to him again,” explained Handler. Nice to know that Handler goes straight for racially offensive takedowns when she’s dealing with black people in her inner circle.
Some people seem to think that one is given a pass if said person is in an interracial relationship. There is no such thing as a pass to say racist or racially insensitive things. The fact that Handler had a relationship with a black man in no way absolves her of her ridiculous antics.
Also, black people are not her only targets. Some of her critics take issue with the way she jokes with her Chelsea Lately sidekick Chuy, on the show. He is a Latino little person. However, Chuy himself has publicly stated that he has no problem with her or her calling him her “nugget.”
Handler has a new book coming out later this month called Uganda Be Kidding Me. She will be embarking on a stand-up comedy tour of the same name in support of the book. The trailer for the project is just as classy as the title. Handler prattles off a few monotone jokes including a couple jabs at the concept of black people always being late and stereotypical, uniquely spelled African-American names.
The concept of the book is that Handler took a trip to various international destinations, including an African safari, and she’s offering up her “hilarious” (read with all the sarcasm in the world) stories straight from the bush as well as “travel tips and etiquette,” so you can only imagine the long list of tired Africa jokes that will be in those pages. I will literally have to just imagine that because there is no way I would ever purchase anything from Handler. It’s not about being too sensitive, it’s about Handler using racially charged digs to mask her inability to be funny. Spouting off a series of stereotypes or just being a jerk does not make a comedian good.
Are you a Chelsea Handler fan? And if so, why?