In an article about Chelsea Handler’s recent Netflix special “Revolution,” is an image of Handler on a stage, facing a crowd of people in a dark room.
Illustration by Emily Seltzer, Skidmore College

It’s a Revolution

Chelsea Handler’s recent Netflix special embraces taboo concepts, all while supplying a consistent stream of comically candid jokes.

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In an article about Chelsea Handler’s recent Netflix special “Revolution,” is an image of Handler on a stage, facing a crowd of people in a dark room.
Illustration by Emily Seltzer, Skidmore College

Chelsea Handler’s recent Netflix special embraces taboo concepts, all while supplying a consistent stream of comically candid jokes.

Well-versed comedian Chelsea Handler’s new comedy special “Revolution” came out on Netflix on Dec. 27, 2022. Like a gift for the holidays, Handler’s hour-long set delivers. She runs the gamut of topics, from surviving a pandemic to thinking the moon and the sun are the same.

Despite a two-year hiatus from stand-up comedy due to the pandemic, Handler brings an invigorated energy to the stage while seamlessly weaving together a wide range of topics. Most include observations and experiences she picked up over the pandemic; she provides a fresh take on the many offspring of quarantine. She bears honesty while also discussing the pandemic in relation to her life choices, which she has no problem making fun of, much to her audience’s delight. Overall, Handler’s monologue is playful, relatable and brilliantly comedic. She reveals a shameless confidence in her own decisions as a successful and proud unpartnered and childless woman.

Handler makes incisive jokes about intentionally being childless and not having a spouse during the pandemic. She executes a set that manages to turn something society deems to be sad or unacceptable into an enjoyable bout of unmatched freedom and relief.

In the first few minutes, Handler immediately gets into the thick of it and declares, “I have never been more confident in my life decision skills … in remaining childless and alone.” The pause leaves the audience with time to anticipate what words will follow, only to be met with an unexpected ending that leaves them reeling with laughter.

Indeed, Handler reframes her solitude as a choice, one that any person should be proud of. She does it with respect, though, sympathizing with the difficult challenges pandemic-era parents faced in the past two years. She points out, “There are people who will never recover from what happened … and they’re called parents.” Again, her use of comparably basic and ambiguous statements followed by clever punchlines leaves the entire theater chuckling, perhaps in agreement.

Handler’s condolences balance out her appreciation of independence, so she maintains compassion while administering hilarious jokes in her bluntly illuminating style.

“Can you imagine becoming a parent? You’ve already made a huge miscalculation,” she ponders. “And the one reprieve you get is when you send that child off to school to get an education.” She quickly adds, “and that is stolen away from you in the name of a plague.” Though lengthy in correlation to her previous one-liners, the joke receives a massively positive reaction from the crowd, and rightfully so.

In the first part, what appears to be a consolation instantly turns into one of Handler’s classic brutally-truthful quips, commiserating with parents while also judging their major life choices. The takeaway is a sense of empowerment for women who choose to live like Handler, as well as a shoutout to people who choose to take on parenthood, a responsibility Handler is not willing to undertake herself.

Handler reminds the audience that in place of raising children, she rescued nine dogs. Though admirable, she makes the case as to why she isn’t all that saintly for doing so.

Handler narrates the story of Gary, a troublesome Bernese mountain dog she rescued who she ended up leaving in a parking garage when he escaped from her car. She took the opportunity and scurried home. Her assistant found Gary, however, and he returned to her care. Out of guilt, she took him to a park, where a woman named Teresa approached Chelsea and expressed her desire to own a Bernese mountain dog, as she had never seen one at shelters. Chelsea responded, “You’re about to rescue one now,” joking that she would even “pay for his clothes and education.” She once again draws a comparison to raising a child in a way that ties together two entirely different ideas.

As a final punch, Handler confirms, “Gary lives with Teresa now.” The final sentence closes the storyline to open up space for a new joke, while also offering a humorous conclusion that leaves the audience in a roar.

It’s an effective closer that receives the most laughs in the story — no doubt a keen tactic Handler employs for maximum positive feedback. Such detail and attention can surely be attributed to her comedy experience, as well as her innate wit.

Following the story of Gary, Handler flawlessly relates her rescue dog anecdote to her decision not to become a parent: “I know enough to know that you can’t do that with a real, live baby.” Handler goes on to talk about her two current rescue dogs, Bertrand and Bernice.

She introduced the sibling chows on her podcast, “Dear Chelsea,” back in 2021, revealing that she rescued them in 2018. Adding to the idea that she wouldn’t be fit for real parenthood, Handler admits that she left the duo too soon after rescuing them. In her absence, they developed a maternal bond with Handler’s housekeeper, Mabelle.

Handler envies Mabelle’s hold over them, confessing, “I’ve had more one-night stands that are less demeaning than my relationship with my dogs.” She goes on to talk about her failed attempts at earning affection from her dogs. Some highlights include the way she has to lure them to her bed to cuddle anf how they only stay awake when Mabelle is there. 

In illustrating her ineptitude at mothering her own dogs, she relays back to the original message that having a child isn’t for her. It’s a genius way to communicate her turn-down of motherhood, all while turning a socially-serious topic into one that might even persuade some to follow her lead. After all, as Handler phrases it, “It’s a revolution.”

Though parenting humans and dogs is the underlying theme of the hour, Handler incorporates a lengthy list of additional material, including but not limited to: the difference between men’s and women’s etiquette during the pandemic, the frustrations of mansplainers, quarantine hookup protocol, childhood overconfidence and doing mushrooms with your landscaper. Regardless of the content, Handler effortlessly juggles multiple storylines all the while coming across as hilarious. It’s safe to say that “Revolution” will be just as much of a hit as all of her previous work in comedy. Fans who watch “Revolution” will definitely be tempted to consume more Handler content. For now, her fans will be content rewatching “Revolution” until her next best special comes out, whenever that may be.     


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