The comedian's latest special, 'Revolution,' is streaming now on Netflix.
Chelsea Handler isn't giving up on love or late night. The comedian chatted with ET's Deidre Behar this week about the release of her new Netflix comedy special, Revolution, and what's next for her in the new year.
"I've done stand-up for so long, but the way this special looks and the way that I look and the clarity and the joke-telling, I'm very proud of it," she shared. "It was just a great experience to kind of come back to stand-up."
The special was directed by Handler's then-boyfriend, Jo Koy. The pair announced their split in July 2022, just ahead of their one-year anniversary, but Handler includes a line at the end of the special noting that the breakup didn't sour the newfound optimism she speaks to in her new comedy, writing, "I still believe in love. And I believe, now more than ever before, that my person is coming."
"We both went our separate ways. And that's OK, too," Handler told ET of the split. "I had kind of lost my faith in men. And then, I got into a relationship and that faith was renewed, and it made me open-minded and open-hearted and I remain that way. So I'm grateful for that time together. And I'm glad that we did that special together. That was a great experience."
Handler noted that she feels she's "grown up a lot" in recent years, adding that while she still values her independence, her relationship with Koy helped open her eyes to the positive side of vulnerability.
"I believe in love and I love the way that love can light you up," she reflected. "I liked the togetherness and I liked the constant camaraderie and having a buddy and I just thought, 'Oh yeah, you can find somebody that you have a lot in common with and that can work as well.'"
"It's not the end all be all, but it can be beautiful as long as you are really delivering up your best self in that relationship," Handler added. "You don't want to ever have to be anybody that you're not... and everybody has the ability to make other people be better and be stronger."
In evolving her comedy, Handler admitted that there have been few topics that were off-limits to her in the past. However, she noted that, in her new special, she pulled back from a few jokes about not having or liking kids.
"I don't want to make fun of children," she said. "But I want to empower all the people that feel the way that I do, about owning the fact that you're not interested in being a mom, and that you're not interested necessarily in marriage, and you can be happy and have this wonderful life without those things."
"There are many messages [in the special], but the overall theme is to own yourself," Handler added. "You can have it all, and it's not dependent on who you're in love with or who you're a parent to."
Following the release of her special, Handler is headed to a guest-hosting stint on The Daily Show, following Trevor Noah's departure. And while next year will mark a decade since her E! late-night show, Chelsea Lately, went off the air, the comedian told ET last year that she was "absolutely" interested in a late-night return, after guest-hosting on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
"That gave me kind of the zest that I used to have in the beginning of Chelsea Lately," she recalled of the Kimmel stint. "Commenting and regurgitating everything that happens in the news and being able to comment on it, that's kind of my gig... so I'm definitely open to all sorts of possibilities on that front."
However, Handler admitted that there are facets of Chelsea Lately that are better left in the past.
"We're not going to be making fun of celebrities anymore," she noted. "I mean, you know, people like Kanye and Elon Musk deserve it. But not people like Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan. Like, that was just not- I wouldn't do that again, you know, that was old times and old me, and it just doesn't really benefit anybody... I like not being able to make fun of people, and have to come up with more clever jokes. I'm interested in being challenged like that."
A new late-night space for her, Handler mused, would also need to be a bit more "elevated," moving away from gossip to a forum that would also include discussions on politics, social issues and other human interest stories.
"I think I would desire a more well-rounded show," she explained, but added that she would still like to have commentary by comedians at the heart of the show.
"That was one of the best elements of [Chelsea Lately]...having comics comment on everything," she recalled. "I think, as a comedian, you are onstage alone with a microphone so frequently that it's kind of hard to share your spotlight. The beauty of that show was being able to share it and with other comedians who were also used to only being onstage alone, and it really takes good listening and really funny people."
While nothing's official yet, Handler has plenty of optimism about her future -- both professionally and personally.
"I don't have a checklist. I never have a five-year plan.... I kind of go where the action is for me," she mused. "Sometimes I'm in the mood to do stand-up. Sometimes I'm in the mood to write books. Sometimes I'm in the mood to be on TV. I just like a lot of activity around me. And I like to be creative. And all of those things bleed together."
Chelsea Handler: Revolution is streaming now on Netflix.