Chelsea Handler spent so many years — seven, to be exact — mostly sitting down on her now-ended Chelsea Lately show on E! that some people may have forgotten she's also a gifted stand-up.
Handler did some touring when her late-night show was on, mostly in connection with one of her best-selling books. Otherwise, except for a mini-monologue at the start of each Lately show, Handler was content to sit with a rotating trio of comedians who joined her nightly to riff on any number of topics.
Handler hit the road again this year to promote her latest book, Uganda Be Kidding Me, which she does manage to do here and there within the context of her hilarious 71-minute stand-up special Uganda Be Kidding Me Live, available to stream Friday on Netflix.
The show, filmed in Chicago, spotlights not only Handler's favorite topics — sex, bodily functions, her dogs, her entourage, including lesbian housemate Shelly, whom she says she "owns" — it also reminds us of her superior comic timing. She has a way of setting a joke up and then fooling us into thinking she's made her point, only to add a killer punch line, almost as if she's lost interest in the story but throws in the punch line anyway.
Recounting her arrival in Africa, which serves as the setting for her book, she mocks her friend Hannah for being whiny and terrified about every little thing. Hannah is sure that she and Handler will end up being raped by their tour guides.
"They're certainly not going to rape us," Handler says in derisive disgust, then pausing before casually adding, "the day we get here."
Somehow, she manages to segue from having a piece of a pretzel stuck in her mouth to her father's inability to stay very long in assisted living facilities before he starts making passes at Jamaican nurses, to Handler's crusade to hook up her 50-year-old makeup artist, Gina, with a man by submitting a mostly false profile to an online dating site.
Gina has a low voice, Handler says, dropping her own voice down a few octaves as she shares her opinion that the longer a woman goes without penetration (a favorite Handler word), the deeper her voice gets.
Handler may make fun of others, but she makes fun of herself most of all. When she riffs on how her assistant Karen labels everything in Handler's baggage ( "Fresh panties," "Advil," "Motrin"), she's really making fun of her own apparent inability to function in the world without people around to either prevent or clean up her messes.
You don't have to have counted the number of "bleeps" in a typical Chelsea Lately show to know that the language gets a little raw in Uganda. The show also features some NSFW photos used in the background onstage.
Well, what did you expect? We've come a long way since Gracie Allen, folks.