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Chelsea Handler Says Losing Bladder Control on Set is Just Another Day in the Life

She’s the bitingly sarcastic late-night talk show host who won her way into American living rooms with her distinct “I-don’t-give-a-fuck” attitude. Now she is taking on the world as the first ever global talk show host, with her eponymously titled show slated for a 90-episode second season on Netflix in 2017.

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 August, 2016, 11:58am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 5:24pm

Growing up was a bit of a mess. My parents were very disorganized with three boys and three girls and I learned quickly that I was going to have to make my own life outside of my family. At the age of 3, I was basically like a 35-year-old. Conversely, I was really spoiled by my brothers and my sisters so maybe I just wanted that attention to keep going for the rest of my life. Either way I knew I wanted my voice to be heard.

To me, there was no other option than to come out to Los Angeles and become famous. I got in one show, and then I got a book deal, and then I got a TV show, and then I was on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” doing standup. The combination of my second book and my show on E!, “Chelsea Lately,” mushroomed into a big ol’ career.

I didn’t get really famous until my early 30s, and by that time I had already pretended I was famous since I was little, so it didn’t even make that much of a difference. I don’t get nervous in front of the camera unless I’m running around on a beach, like, “Oh no, I don’t want any pictures of my ass out there.”

I think you have to listen to your voice, your intuition and your instinct. That’s what makes someone excel at doing comedy—it’s being specific to who you are. Everything has always kind of been experiential for me. I like to go out and try something: Either I get better at it or I give up. If I get really good at it I give up anyway because I’m like “All right I did that, let’s move on to the next thing.” I definitely have ADD.

Right now I’m living one of my biggest achievements, having the first ever global talk show. 190 countries, that’s pretty huge. It’s nice to be able to change the conversation from being the only woman in late night to being the first person ever to have a global talk show. I was ready for [“Chelsea Lately”] to end. I wanted it to end so I finally just made it happen. It was great because I got a lot of time to really enjoy myself and travel.

I went to Austria, I went to Shanghai, I went to French Polynesia and got certified in scuba diving. I went and bought a house in Spain and I learned Spanish. I basically acted like a 75-year-old woman on sabbatical. I didn’t know if I was going to do another show, and then I started to think, “If I could do another kind of show, what could I do?” I read tons of books and papers and magazines and I was like, what if I could talk about that stuff and have it be fun and compelling?

I approached [Netflix] because everything they were doing at the time was so progressive. It just felt like the right place to be. I was in Spain a couple weeks ago and people recognized me and were running up to me. I was like, OMG, I didn’t even think about [being recognized overseas]. People were saying, “Ohh, Yelsea…” they called me “Yelsea.”

"I’ll be on camera and then I yell ‘I’m peeing! I’m peeing!’ and then we stop."

There are a lot of serious news items that you can have fun with. Obviously it’s an election year and everyone is interested in what’s happening in American politics. It’s embarrassing and I think the whole world’s laughing at us. I hope we elect Hillary. The other option’s not really an option. We’ve been all over [for the show]. We did a lot of fun stuff in Tokyo where I trained with geishas for two days. 

I’ve definitely laughed so hard while filming that I’ve peed in my pants… I’ll be on camera and then I yell “I’m peeing! I’m peeing!” and then we stop. I’ve carried this problem since I was a child. It used to happen once a year easily. 

I don’t think I’m the funniest person in showbiz. Kristen Wiig is pretty funny but I don’t think she’d ever want to host a late night show. The majority of my day is spent at the office, and I like spending my day that way. I feel like I get stuff done.

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I’ll never get married. I just think “why does anybody have to get married?” You can just date, DATE. There’s no desire, like less than zero desire for me to have a child. My dog woke up in the middle of the night last night and I haven’t recovered since.

Coming up, we’re going to be following the election and just doing more of what we’ve been doing. I have no problem asking dumb questions or appearing stupid by asking those questions. It’s an edification process. It’s like: OK, what else can I learn, who can we get? I want to help all the regular people in the world get more information.