Chelsea Handler Calls Amy Schumer From the Slopes in Whistler
Chelsea Handler and Amy Schumer shook up the male-dominated comedy scene of the aughts with booze-soaked, unabashedly horny material that embraced and examined sex, feminism, body-positivity, and blacking out. After over a decade in the business, one glance across today’s comedy landscape attests to their influence: an irreverent, confessional, and politically-aware kind of stand-up has taken hold among a generation of blunt, sex-positive female comics. Still, Handler and Schumer continue to adapt the form.
Handler’s latest Netflix special is Revolution, a follow-up to her 2020 special Evolution, where she combines the precise, rowdy storytelling she built her career on with hilarious meditations on toxic masculinity and her decision not to have a child. The special, directed by her ex Jo Koy, opens with Handler exclaiming brightly to the packed auditorium that they survived a global pandemic. It feels like a homecoming, Handler back on stage sporting a black silk version of her signature jumpsuit, arms raised like Rocky. She follows up, a touch more manic, “And now we’re going to pretend it’s not happening anymore!” The stories that follow—a cheerleading audition that led to a scoliosis diagnosis; an exhausting encounter with a “micro-dick man” in a captain’s hat and flip flops—are accentuated by Handler’s tight physical comedy. She plods around in bright white sneakers to mimic an elephant’s trot and delicately mimes the process of massaging canine anal glands during a 10-minute takedown of her adopted Bernese mountain dog puppy, who she concludes is a “dirty little cunt.” Though Handler is patient with her material (surely she’s earned the right to be), the hour-long special never drags, up through a euphoric closer that brings the set full circle.
A few days before Christmas (and Revolution’s streaming debut), Schumer called Handler, cooped up in Whistler, Canada for the holiday, to compare notes on psychedelics, sibling dynamics, Michael Jordan, and Meghan Markle.—CAITLIN LENT
AMY SCHUMER: I’m so happy to see my baby girl.
CHELSEA HANDLER: You look so beautiful.
SCHUMER: My god. Thank you. I got hair and makeup, actually.
HANDLER: Oh, I love that. Thank you.
SCHUMER: You look actually gorgeous. And look at your background. I’m not showing my background.
HANDLER: Show us your butt.
SCHUMER: There’s actually no one I would rather do this with. I can say that because I already got to interview Isabel Wilkerson once, so there’s just no one I’d rather do this with.
HANDLER: Oh, honey. I love you.
SCHUMER: I love you. Okay, I just watched your special so I am emotional. I’m fired up. I was crying, laughing. I loved your last special. It really moved me and this one really moved me too. So thank you for making it, first of all.
HANDLER: Well, thank you for watching it.
SCHUMER: So I have some questions. First of all, the theater you shot it in in Nashville, was that the Ryman, what used to be the Grand Old Oh-pry?
HANDLER: I think so, but it’s called the Grand Old Opry, ah-pree.
SCHUMER: The Grand Old Oprah. Why did you choose to shoot it in Oprah’s house?
HANDLER: I’ve always wanted to shoot something inside of Oprah.
SCHUMER: Oh my god.
HANDLER: That just seemed like the right place. I mean, she’s from Nashville.
SCHUMER: Yeah, she sure is.
HANDLER: And we’re both from Nashville, so it’s a meaningful place for the three of us.
SCHUMER: This interview’s going to be almost completely unusable, and that’s simply because of my hair. So, I felt like this special was really silly and fun and it just felt so good to laugh and enjoy it. You really give us all permission to laugh at ourselves, you know? You’re one of the smartest people I know, but you’re also a complete fool, and you’re the first one to admit that. And you talking about your thoughts on the sun and the moon really hit home for me. And there’s something about your sibling calling you out that makes it extra—like, I feel like only your siblings know truly how deficient you are. Not you, but one. You know?
HANDLER: Absolutely. I mean, your siblings are the only ones who truly know how stupid and ill-equipped you are for everything. They’re the ones who know everything about you. You know how close I am with my siblings and we talk about our siblings all the time, you and me, and how meaningful they are to me, especially my sisters. I would say they’re more important than my brothers, for obvious reasons. My brother came to a couple of shows and he was like, “Wow, there’s a lot of Simone material in here.” And I was like, “Oh, do you want me to write something for you? Because I can. No problem.”
SCHUMER: And you did.
HANDLER: And I did.
SCHUMER: I love that. I know it’s not good to say punchlines because people will see the special and whatever but, “Your legacy is that you’re my fucking brother,” was just one of my all-time favorite lines I’ve ever heard from anyone. Your ability to take ownership of the truth and not apologize for it is so empowering and freeing and just made me bust out loud.
HANDLER: And it’s also so fun to just go in on your family. We all have family drama. Everyone has highs and lows [with their families], especially when you’re a public person. Dynamics change. Like, “Listen, we’re all here stuck together for the good, the bad, the ugly.” It’s more than a marriage. It’s a lifetime. So let’s get down to business.
SCHUMER: Yeah, you really don’t hold back about your family, which I love. I got this sort of gift pack for your special that I’m sure they sent to some influencers, which is how I see myself, of course.
HANDLER: That’s how I see you.
SCHUMER: And one of the things was a hat that said, “I am the captain now.” I just had no idea why that would be in there and was so confused because I was like, “This is a corny hat.” And then watching the special and realizing what it’s doing in there was fun.
HANDLER: That’s another thing that you and I also talk so much about in our real life, our frustration with the stupidity of the way that men continue to behave, even when we’ve pointed out so many times as a society like, “Hey, you guys could do this a little bit better.” We want to be better, too. We’re always trying to better ourselves. We’re always trying to do better as women. I’m always like, “What is my edification? What am I going to do this year that I haven’t done? How am I going to be a better citizen?” So when you’re sharing information with men in a reasonable way and they don’t listen or hear us, it’s no wonder we’ve become hysterical.
SCHUMER: And you really carve out a place for it, because there has to be an allowance of anger on our part. And I love that the special gets to that moment of, “We’ve suffered abuse at the hands of men, you all owe us an apology.” It’s just so true and so basic. I just saw the Sarah Polley movie Women Talking, which you are going to absolutely love.
HANDLER: What’s it on?
SCHUMER: Well, it’s coming out in theaters, but it’s going to definitely get some Oscar noms and whatever. I just got a screener for it.
HANDLER: Because you’re the director?
SCHUMER: I am. It’s my film.
HANDLER: Oh, okay.
SCHUMER: I do have questions to ask you, but as your friend who just saw this special, I just need to talk about it a little more. Just calling out Michael Jordan’s bloodshot eyes even feels like an act of revolution. There’s so many moments of this special that feel revolutionary—
HANDLER: Well, anyone who doesn’t think that Michael Jordan was buzzed during the entire filming of his documentary is mistaken, because he’s drinking and he’s wearing shorts, which he’s allowed to do because of his accomplishments, but his eyes…he is fucked up during that documentary. And that makes me respect him more because you know how I feel about people who are unapologetic about their own drug and alcohol use.
SCHUMER: It’s one of the main reasons we’re a huge team. Okay, this is for Interview Magazine. So I’m going to actually interview you, okay? And I did not get high today.
HANDLER: I took one edible.
SCHUMER: But that’s nothing.
HANDLER: No, that’s not going to put a dent in anything.
SCHUMER: Well, I had an edible too, but I’m not high. Okay. Can you talk about why you named the special Revolution?
HANDLER: Well, my last special was called Evolution. And I was like, “This is just another year around the sun.” It felt like a very concentrated period of time between COVID, our discoveries societally about the imbalance of power between men and women, #MeToo, the whole cancel culture, everything we’ve all endured for the last five years that we’re all sick and tired of. And then my love story with Jo Koy was a game-changer for me. I didn’t think I was going to be down for that kind of togetherness and that kind of coupledom. I eschewed that for a long time. I’m so independent. I love my space. So for me to get into a relationship that was that intense, and to be able to compromise, because it was post-therapy, and be able to fall in love with Jo Koy… I would never have fallen in love with him before therapy. He was not someone I would take seriously in that department. And then to come out of it and still be open-minded, it is a revolution. It’s like a revelation and a revolution. Jo brought all this stuff back to me and he redeemed my faith in men. And that’s a huge gift.
SCHUMER: That’s really well-said. That’s beautiful. The decision to not cut the end out and then say that your person is out there does feel meaningful. As long as I’ve known you, you’ve always been someone to speak up and be honest and be powerful. Where do you think that came from?
HANDLER: I think that’s something you have in spades also. That’s something that obviously draws me to you and I understand the meaning of that now more than I ever have. What it means to other women, what it means to young girls, and the example that we’re setting every time we do stand up, and stand up to people that we could be intimidated by. But we don’t allow that to happen. I was watching that Meghan Markle stuff last night and I was just thinking about why she gets so much fucking hate. Why do people have such an opinion about it? She’s just telling her love story. You know what I mean? I don’t care about any of it. She has every right to live her life. And just the unreasonable amount of judgment toward her makes me want to stand up for women even more. I like to think of myself as part of the culture of women.
SCHUMER: Yeah, that’s very clear in this special and it felt really good to watch at this moment. I think it’s going to be a real breath of fresh air for Netflix, who sometimes shares opposing views…
HANDLER: Well, let me throw that question back at you, Amy. Where did you get the strength and the determination to be able to stand up for yourself and for others in the way that you do?
SCHUMER: This is one of the reasons we’ve also connected to each other. I was just pissed. I remember, in school, learning the dynamics at a really young age, where the girls were supposed to be pretty and be quiet, and feeling really wronged by that. The boys were supposed to be the funny ones. And I was like, “No, I have the funniest thing to say in here, so I’m going to say it.” I remember when we really hung out for the first time. We were both in London and we had a good time together and just saw that we were aligned in the way we like to hang out, which is being crazy, doing some light drugs. Then later I found out that we were also people that really stood up for what we believed and fought for other people. It was so funny to hear your take on motherhood. Because there was this time where I was saying to you, “You need to have a baby.” I was one of the people in your ear. Now I’m like, “God, she’s so smart that she didn’t have a baby.” Of course, once you meet your child, you’re like, “Oh my god, I love you with all my heart.” But I think it’s one of the reasons women do drop out of wanting to tell these stories, because it’s so painful and the level of empathy is too much. It’s like, you don’t want to hear any other mother’s stories because yours are so fucking brutal. It’s so fucking hard, even with all the privilege in the world.
HANDLER: Well yeah, especially when you have complications and all of the situations that you’ve had to deal with. I have to say, you’re choosing to talk about your motherhood journey and all the things that you’ve experienced with your endometriosis and your hysterectomy is so valuable and important, because there are other women that feel like they are alone. Like, when I speak out about the advantages and shamelessness in not having children, there are women that I’m representing. So it’s like, if every woman would just tell their story, you have no idea the domino effect of people that you’re helping.
SCHUMER: Right. And it’s like, there is no right way. No one’s doing it right. The Meghan Markle thing, it’s not just, “Oh, poor us.” They were just given such a fucking chance to update the monarchy, and here’s a perfect person who can hold your dumb hands into the times we’re living in now, and they just couldn’t do it. And exposing that is what I hope will be people’s takeaway and not “Oh, what do they feel so bad about? They have a nice backyard.” What do you hope people take away from your special?
HANDLER: That I’ve grown up, that I’m an adult and that I’m solid. I’ve always been solid and reliable as a friend, as an employee. And I think I feel very solid right now in my career and in my stand-up. I have a new love and appreciation and clarity with it. I loved being on stage this time, instead of just letting it drag you down.
SCHUMER: No, I don’t know that. Just kidding.
HANDLER: We never discuss anything like that. But it’s just gratitude, gratitude, gratitude all day long in this house. For a lot of us, we go through phases of bombast or real security and we’re on a roll. Then we go through insecure times and we become self-conscious and we don’t know our value or if we’re relevant or if anyone cares about us. Now I’ve gotten to a place where I value myself and I know what I bring to the table. I want women and men to take away strength from this, to be inspired to just do a little bit better than all of us are doing, because we know we can. And for men not to be defensive about it.
SCHUMER: You’re really just offering some help.
HANDLER: I’m just offering guidance.
SCHUMER: It’s so funny when you talk about mansplaining. So, I’m raising a little man. I have this three-and-a-half-year-old and he’s already mansplaining to me. He’ll go, “No, mommy. You’re wrong.” I’m like, “Oh my god.” It’s genetic. They’re born wanting to explain things to you. I’ve been so mad at so many ex-boyfriend’s moms like, “You made your son too confident.” And guess what? I’m going to do the exact same fucking thing.
HANDLER: My friend was like, “The only responsibility any mother has who’s raising a son is to not raise a rapist.”
SCHUMER: That’s it. That’s the least you can do, mothers. The least you can do is not raise a rapist.
HANDLER: Pretty tricky stuff.
SCHUMER: I can guarantee you Gene will never rape. You can write that down.
SCHUMER: Hold me to that.
HANDLER: Let me get a pen.
SCHUMER: We’ll get a notary. That’s going to be the pull-quote from this: “Gene will never rape.”
HANDLER: What’s the name of your special, Amy? You didn’t tell me.
SCHUMER: It’s called “Emergency Contact” because it’s based on one of the lines from my special and I thought it sounded catchy, but it’s not really meaningful.
HANDLER: I saw you the night after you filmed your special because you had that dinner party at Guy’s [Oseary].
SCHUMER: That was so fun.
HANDLER: I saw you there, and you were deciding whether or not to stay in LA or go to St. Barts.
SCHUMER: Yeah. Well, you gave me some mushrooms and I made some travel plans.
HANDLER: That’s right.
SCHUMER: Thank you so much for those.
HANDLER: I got here to this house in Whistler. I got off my tour. I got on a plane. I flew here. I walked into my house and I just left everything with my assistant in Philly. I just had a purse. And I came to my house here and I go, “God, I wish I had brought mushrooms. I forgot to bring mushrooms.” And there was a huge basket of all sorts of nootropic, micro-dose, chocolate mushrooms, gummy mushrooms that my friends and all the bakers around Whistler had put together for me for my arrival. I almost climaxed in my own house.
SCHUMER: That’s someone living their life correctly. No one deserves that more than you.
HANDLER: Thank you.
SCHUMER: I’m so happy about that. And I want to pretend I was involved in that gift. We all went in. We all did it together.
HANDLER: Thank you.
SCHUMER: I’m assuming your holidays are a lot like mine, just filled with insane trauma. And-
HANDLER: You know what we do share? We both love the vineyard. I grew up on the Vineyard. You grew up going to the Vineyard. Chris [Fischer, Schumer’s husband] is from the Vineyard. And we spent time on the Vineyard together, so those are good holiday memories.
SCHUMER: Going to Martha’s Vineyard is just a dream.
HANDLER: It’s one of those places that is ineffable. You really just have to know the Vineyard to know how special of a place it is. When I think of the best memories of my childhood, they’re all on the Vineyard.
SCHUMER: Yeah. The Hamptons are beautiful and everything is really laid out for you there. You can pull up and there will be someone who will park your car and will bring your towels down and your drink will be exactly what you want. Martha’s Vineyard, it’s not like that. I don’t care who you are, you’re hauling all your own shit.
HANDLER: Remember when we went to the beach with Bridget Everett one day, and you’re like, “We have to use this fake parking pass from Larry David,” or Laurie David, one of the Davids. And I was like, “Wait, what?” And then we had to park a half-a-mile away and you had just had the baby?
SCHUMER: I’d just had a baby. It’s so beautiful, and it’s expensive. It’s a privilege. But it’s not ease and luxury. You need to be able to pull your own boat into shore.
HANDLER: And fish for your dinner.
SCHUMER: Right. No one cares that you’re a celebrity or anything like that. If somebody’s wearing mascara on Martha’s Vineyard, they’re having an affair. And in the Hamptons, I go there and everyone just thinks I’m like an unhoused person. People are giving me a dollar. They’re like, “Oh, this riff raff.” It’s not our vibe. Here’s my last question. Who was your last FaceTime with?
HANDLER: Probably Jo Koy.
SCHUMER: Oh no. Wait. What? Are you guys—
HANDLER: Honestly, I never FaceTimed in my life until that relationship because I just can’t hold a phone. I like Marco Polo.
HANDLER: I can’t be on the phone and holding it. I just want to message back and forth. I know people who are into FaceTime, but I am not into FaceTime. And I spent the entire relationship with Jo Koy doing FaceTime to be a team player. And I think I haven’t done it since.
SCHUMER: Well, I hope your next partner—I’ll say partner because you and I are both inevitably going to fall in love with one another and live in what I’m calling a “Golden Girl situation.” But I hope that Jo Koy is your last FaceTime, so you never have to do that again. I love you. I love the special. I’m happy for you and I’m happy for me that I get to be such good friends with you.
HANDLER: I love you so much, honey. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this on your vacation.
SCHUMER: Oh, please. Are you kidding me? You’re my sister.