116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
People can change, even celebrities.
Comic/actress Chelsea Handler has perhaps added years to her life by dialing it down and dealing with issues that she avoided for a long time.
Much of her 2019 book — the amusing, entertaining and surprising “Life Will Be The Death of Me” — is revelatory.
“It was very cathartic,” Handler, 47, said by phone from Los Angeles. “I spent much of my life blocking out trauma, which isn't good for anybody. When my brother died when I was 9 years old, I just blocked it out. You can't go through life not dealing with the deaths, which changes your life.”
Her brother, Chet, was 22 when he died in a hiking accident in the Grand Tetons in 1984. His death became a focal point of Handler’s book.
What: Comedian Chelsea Handler
Where: Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
When: 8 p.m. April 14, 2022
Tickets: $49.50 to- $219.50; creventslive.com/events/2021/chelsea-handler
“I discovered that it’s an issue that I can talk about, since people can relate to it,” Handler said. “Everybody has lost somebody. ... It’s important to grieve, to get that out of your system. You have to deal with it. But we can't grieve forever. What we need to do is to honor those who have passed away. If you grieve and honor them, it’s a way of fixing yourself.”
Handler, who will perform April 14, 2022, at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids, was inspired to write her sixth book after the 2016 presidential election.
“I had to see a psychiatrist after the election,” she said. “The book is about harnessing all of my outrage. I had all of these negative connotations with therapy. I associated words like universal, gratitude and kale with therapy, and it made me nauseous. But I discovered why people love therapy. It's so valuable. I had to stop being such a baby and embrace it.”
Now Handler is healthier and in a better mental state.
“I'm happier,” she said. “There are a couple of things that have helped change me for the better. I love to ski. That just takes me away from everything. It’s great exercise and it helps me mentally. I also meditate, which has helped me more than you can imagine.”
Handler, who remains acerbic and hilarious after tending to her personal needs, has morphed, just like she did when she evolved from teen to adult.
“I was a rebellious kid,” she said. ”I went through a rebellious stage from when I was 11 until I was about 20. I finally calmed down a bit. But I've always had this rebellious streak and it’s served me well in my career.“
And what a career it’s been. Shortly after arriving in Hollywood, Handler scored TV acting gigs on “The Bernie Mac Show,” “My Wife and Kids” and “The Practice,” while working the comedy clubs and supporting herself as a waitress. After establishing herself in stand-up, she began hosting “The Chelsea Handler Show” on E! in 2006.
Unlike many of her peers, who are concerned with how they are perceived on social media, Handler has never pulled punches.
“I was never one to hold back when it came to performing or calling someone out,” she said.
Yet Handler is a beloved figure.
“Chelsea is one of the nicest, most wonderful people,” comic Jo Koy said. “I loved being on her show. She treats people so well. I have nothing but kind words to say about her.”
Handler, whom Time magazine named to its 2012 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, has become an activist. She has worked with EMILY's List, an advocacy group that helps elect pro-choice Democratic women.
However, Handler indicates that she has no interest in entering politics.
“I couldn't survive on that salary,” she quipped.
Handler would like to see women break the political glass ceiling and gain equal rights and pay.
“It's about being vocal and strong enough to let people know the truth,” she said. “Women should have no shame. ... We need to talk about what we're not supposed to talk about, and stand up.”
Her activism extends in several directions. The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group that lists Chelsea Clinton and Bruce Springsteen among its supporters, honored Handler with an Ally for Equality Award.
When Handler isn't stumping for a cause, she relaxes. She revealed how she has become so mellow at midlife.
“I rediscovered cannabis when I couldn't drink, when I was so angry,” Handler said. “Cannabis opened my mind up and actually led me to meditation. The crazy thing that led me to cannabis, meditation and my book, and my new and improved outlook on life was Donald Trump. If I didn't get so depressed over his election, my life wouldn't have changed in such a positive manner.”