A brash, acerbic, by-the-throat comedienne who built a career out of skewering pop culture fixations such as Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, Chelsea Handler grew up in a devout Jewish household in New Jersey (with five siblings) and entered show business by way of stand-up comedy. In that sphere, Handler’s unapologetically blunt and occasionally self-denigrating routines both turned heads and won her a massive following; she appeared and performed in such venues as HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival and the Montreal Comedy Festival. Handler achieved her broadest recognition, however, on television; she was a fixture on the Oxygen network’s Girls Behaving Badly (2002), a reality program in which an all-female cast set about playing outrageous, Candid Camera-style practical jokes on unsuspecting men. The E! network subsequently signed Handler for two eponymous programs: The Chelsea Handler Show (2006), a loosely knit collection of skits, blackouts, mock interviews, and spoofs done with a biting edge, and a follow-up series, the after-dark Chelsea Lately, similarly structured but more specifically devoted to sending up pop culture phenomena and developments.
On the side, Handler also published a popular book, the tell-all My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands — which described in graphic and comic detail the performer’s entire sexual history — and made guest appearances on network series including The Bernie Mac Show, Reno 911!, and The Practice.