Chelsea Handler on Her Brother's Untimely Death, Dealing with Self-Doubt and Reinventing the Talk Show
Chelsea Handler is so successful it’s hard to imagine her anything less than confident.
The star, whose new Netflix talk show Chelsea debuts on May 11, told PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly Editorial Director Jess Cagle recently that she isn’t always sure of herself.
“There are times I felt insecure or not sure, I’m unsure of myself, or I get nervous, but nerves are good,” Handler began. “I try and embrace all those things. I try and embrace the times where I’m not sure of myself or I’m like, ‘Is this going to work? Is this going to land?’ Every time I had a book come out, I’m like, ‘Is it going to be number one?’ It’s like, who gives a shit if it’s number one? You have five books.”
Handler, 41, also admitted, “I don’t think I’m a good host. I’m not a good host. I’m terrible at hosting. That’s my problem. I can talk and have interviews, but I’m not a host in that sense.”
Handler also opened up to Cagle about another deeply personal topic: the unexpected death of her brother, Chet, when she was just 9 years old.
“Seeing your parents fall apart is really rough,” she said. “I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”
“In hindsight it really kept us as a tight-knit group, because it was so tragic and awful,” she says. “Ultimately, it was kind of a beautiful gift because we all value each other so much.”
Of her five older siblings, she says, “They took care of me. They took me everywhere, and I was a little rascal. They’d go to their high school parties and bring me because I had this attitude. I was their little entertainment wind-up doll.”
When discussing her new talk show, Handler revealed that viewers shouldn’t expect it to be a clone of her former E! series Chelsea Lately. In fact, she’s reinventing the format altogether by including elements from her Netflix docu-series Chelsea Does.
“We’re going to open the show a lot like we open the documentaries where it just kind of fades up and you’re coming in on a conversation,” Handler says. “Everything’s coming in halfway through a conversation. A lot of the things I loved about the documentaries we were able to implement into this show, like the dinner parties. ”
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“The show won’t be exactly what I want it to be going out of the gate. It never really is. It always takes a few months to get in your groove, and then it takes a good year of that until you change another thing about it,” Handler says. “You always want to pivot a little bit. Most of all, I just don’t want the show to be the same every night, and that was something that we talked about over and over again.”
“I said, ‘I can’t do the same thing – have the same five-minute, 10-minute, 15-minute intervals of the show. It’s got to be different and not regimented.”
She added that “it’s got to have a fluid feeling so that some nights you turn it on and maybe we’re talking about one topic for the whole 30 minutes, and then the next night we have a guest and we have a musical performance.”
“It just can’t be regimented,” she reiterated. “I’m not good with routine.”
Chelsea will debut on Netflix every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday beginning May 11.