On the opening day of SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX, stand-up comedian and best-selling author Chelsea Handler delivered a powerful and hilarious statement on women’s rights and the nature of comedy in today’s political and social climate.
Hosted with MSNBC host and former White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Handler opened up about the division in politics and the battle over the human body, noting how policing other people’s bodies and sexual identity has absolutely nothing to do with the people who oppress. Following this note, she discussed how her approach to jokes changed as she realized who ended up being the butt of the jokes, noting that there is no value in putting down someone who is already down.
“I want to be seen as an ally and someone who lifts people up,” Handler said, “Not as an enemy who’s attacking them,” Handler notes that her approach has shifted to those who deserve to be knocked down a peg. Describing her time as a comedian, she notes her material has changed to reflect these values and that what worked in the past doesn’t necessarily work today.
Handler and Psaki also discussed the subject of parenthood, especially during the heightened attack on Pro-choice in the state of Texas, discussing how her approach to childhood and the pressure of motherhood from others creates division. Topics such as how a kid is raised, whether to breastfeed or use formula, and her philanthropy potentially being offset by focusing on children play a major role in her decision. On the heels of this, she discussed her crush for Mitt Romney as well the overall absurdity of politics.
When pressed by Psaki, Handler revealed that she’s possibly returning to late-night talk show hosting, as well as discussing her upbringing and quirky practices in her latest standup. Describing that many of her eating habits weren’t for public display, Handler hilariously weaves how private practices would be viewed among the public, and shows that the weird things everyone has in common makes this perception all the more interesting.
In a strong opening to SXSW, Handler became a reminder that humanity is in the center of strife regardless of race, color, or sexuality, but that the people who put them down are all open to criticism and ridicule, and no matter how bad time can get in the world, humor is one of the best ways to handle a harsh and absurd world.