Chelsea Handler Talks Politics, Comedy, and Cannabis

Photographed by Kurt Iswarienko/Netflix.

Chelsea Handler has been in the business of late night for over a decade; her first show, The Chelsea Handler Show, premiered in 2006, followed by Chelsea Lately in 2007. And although the comedic queen took an unexpected step back from her eponymous Netflix series Chelsea last year, don’t think that Handler is preparing to take her final bow any time soon. In fact, she’s planning to be bolder than ever before.

Since the 2016 U.S. elections took place, the 43-year-old hasn’t expressed any qualms about her strong opposition to President Donald Trump on social media. And while she receives her fair share of backlash from his supporters, the TV star refuses to go down without a fight. “It doesn’t matter if certain people think it’s too much,” she says. “It matters that you say something.” But Handler is doing more than just using the internet as her sounding board for the resistance. She’s a part of it—and says that political activism is the main reason why she took a step back from doing television.

During her time off from the small screen, not only has Handler been campaigning for various Democratic nominees, but she’s also been devoted to fighting for women’s rights, Syrian refugee settlement, and LGBT issues, as well as gun control. “I’m looking around and I know I’m not someone who has to be as worried about my rights as some other marginalized people,” the comedian admits. “So, for me, it’s really important to stick my neck out and put my money where my mouth is—show up to causes and fight for people.”

The former late-night host also strongly opposes the Trump administration’s recent policy to separate families seeking asylum at the southern U.S. border. “That is the lowest of society—that is as low as we have gone,” Handler exclaims, adding that if she only had one choice, this is the policy she would choose to dissolve. “When you don’t value children’s lives, then I don’t think you care about anybody.”

In response to the stress of the current political climate in the States, Handler admits to using cannabis as a means to unwind from the exhausting news cycle. “It always helps to have a little extra pep in your step,” she jokes. But with marijuana use becoming more normalized in North America, and Canada officially legalizing the substance for recreational purposes this past October, Handler took her message of cannabis use up north that same month for a speaking tour in partnership with Civilized, an organization that promotes the lifestyle benefits of weed. “I think Canada is a good reality check because that’s goodness,” the comedian shares. “The people are good, they’re kinder, they’re sweeter, the air is cleaner, it seems—well, for the most part,” she laughs. “Sorry about our fires.”

But for the fans who miss seeing the New Jersey native on the small screen, the wait to see the host make her comeback shouldn’t be too much longer. In early October, Handler announced via Twitter that she would be shooting a documentary for Netflix that will tackle white privilege, and help her and others like her to understand what it’s like to be a person of colour in America. However, a release date for the project has yet to be announced.

As someone who is incredibly forthcoming about her political views, Handler admits that the silver lining to America’s current state of affairs is that it has made people become more empathetic—herself included. “I’m kinder because of this person being president,” she confesses. “I’m more patient. I listen more and talk less.” And as far as the future goes, Handler’s only hope at the moment is that her country can one day repair itself. “We allowed something like this in our day and age to happen,” she says. “I hope the overcorrection is severe—and it matches the crime.”