Last week, I hit the road with Civilized and Chelsea Handler to cover her new tour - 'A Civilized Conversation with Chelsea Handler,' where the outspoken talk show host riffed on Donald Trump, weighed in on the #MeToo movement, dished on her cannabis use and mocked guys who jerk off into plants.
Here are the highlights from the Winnipeg, Manitoba edition of 'A Civilized Conversation with Chelsea Handler.' (For the first instalment of this three-part series, click here.)
'Maybe the Russians have pee tapes on every Republican'
The Manitoba capital was cold and wet when we arrived for the show at the Burton Cummings Theatre, but Handler was fiery as ever when discussing the man she detests most in America: Donald Trump. She couldn't even praise Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau without adding a bit of hate for his American counterpart.
"Trudeau seems reasonable and respectable, but anybody compared to Donald Trump seems fucking awesome," Chelsea told the packed audience. "Trudeau could be Snooki from 'Jersey Shore.' He could be Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. He could be an actual rock."
And she thinks most Republicans in Congress feel the same way, and would probably say so if they hadn't leased their mouths to special interest groups.
"I don't think they believe in Trump. He's a puppet for them. He's cutting taxes and appointing judges. They're all for sale. They don't have their finger on the pulse of anything except the NRA. Or they're all being blackmailed by Russia. Maybe the Russians have pee tapes on every Republican."
So she hopes someone else in public office will find the guts to tell off the current commander-in-chief.
"I want a world leader to go off on him. I just want Angela Merkel to say - in front of everyone - 'Listen up, you fucking idiot!' I just want him shamed. It's important to remind Trump what an asshole he is."
And if that sounds a bit bitter, just keep in mind that she's lost a lot of money on coping with Trump's presidency.
"I went to therapy just to complain about Trump in a safe space," Handler confessed. "I was paying this guy $600 just to bitch about Trump and his administration. I'm like, 'That fucking Sarah Huckabee-Sanders—what a whore!' My friends were getting sick of me. Like, they'd post a selfie on Instagram, and I'd say, 'How can you do that when Neil Gorsuch has been nominated to the Supreme Court?' When you're that wound up, you gotta relax. And that's when I rediscovered cannabis."
Taking a deep breath has helped her see the slim but nevertheless promising silver lining to Trump's tenure in the White House.
"The counter-effect of Trump being elected is the #MeToo movement, the #TimesUp movement and when more women get elected in the upcoming midterms than we have ever seen."
'We need to overcorrect because' we've been a bunch of assholes to women'
Chelsea Handler chats with Civilized publisher Derek Riedle
Discussing Trump's ironic legacy as a catalyst for progress led Handler to reflect on the #MeToo movement, which she sees as a painful but necessary process for society to atone for decades of ignoring women.
"People are worried about getting fired for asking out a woman at work," Chelsea said. "Everyone's fucking scared shitless. But sometimes overcorrection needs to happen to get back to the middle. We need to overcorrect because we've been a bunch of assholes to women. We have to celebrate women who are brave enough to speak up. And listen to them. And when a woman tells you something's wrong, you need to believe her."
At the same time, Handler called on men to not only reflect on their previous behavior toward women but also consider the things they've felt entitled to by virtue of being male.
"I don't think men are willing to admit some of their disgusting behaviour and what they think they're entitled to because they're men. No woman is jerking off into a plant. That's just not happening. Honestly, what up with that? You're running a movie studio, but you have to belittle women by jerking off into a plant? And it's not just one guy. A lot of guys have jerked off into plants. Women in office might do a lot of things, but they're not going to rub one out on a plant."
And they need to open their minds to understand the sort of stress women feel on a daily basis because of their vulnerability to unwanted advances.
"Men will never know what it's like to be walking home alone at night and be scared," Handler noted. "Most men aren't looking over their shoulder all the time, or walking with a drunk guy and wondering if he's gonna try something."
That message undoubtedly resonated especially well for the Winnipeg audience, who gathered in an area that is just ten minutes away from a public park that was declared a no-go zone by Mayor Brian Bowman after a rash of violent attacks that took place recently in the vicinity. And the rest of the neighbourhood surrounding the theatre isn't much safer, according to locals who told me the Giant Tiger store up the street was "a great place to go if you want to get stabbed."
Scary as that is, some would feel more frightened inside the theatre according to Handler, who says she's become something of a bogeyman—or bogeywoman, rather—to guys who are terrified of the #MeToo movement. When asked what reaction she's received from men recently, Chelsea said, "Men are not saying anything to me. Men see me coming and run away shouting, 'Shit, I gotta get outta here!'"
But despite that unwelcome reception, Handler insists that women need male allies to achieve the goals of feminism. "We need men that stand behind us and support us and say, 'Yeah, we want equal rights too.'"
'Marijuana keeps families together'
Fans packed the Burton Cummings Theatre
Handler also touched on another movement gaining momentum across America: the push to repeal cannabis prohibition. Every day, it seems like more and more people are coming out of the cannabis closet and openly discussing their use of marijuana, which is a bit odd to Handler since she never kept it quiet in the first place.
"It wasn't a big deal," she confessed. "I feel really passionate about telling people what works for you. Cannabis has changed people I love in a great way. My family has great vacations now. We all take edibles together. I have a chapter in my new book called, 'Marijuana Keeps Families Together.'"
Handler's such a fan of cannabis that she's considering a move into the burgeoning industry.
"I might come out with my own line of cannabis," she told the crowd. "It would be geared toward women and be about destigmatizing cannabis—disproving the idea that everyone who uses it is a fucking stoner and a loser."
And she's already seeing those old stereotypes fading away.
"The legalization of weed is awesome. The labelling of everything frees us all. Now we're educated about everything. It's not about hitting a joint and not knowing what's in it. And microdosing is a thing. It's not about being blottoed in the corner of a washroom for 8 hours. That's not fun for anybody. Now cannabis is about picking the strain you like and having a hit to take the edge off. All you have to do is find your strain. What you like more - a body high or a head high, more THC or CBD. I've seen cannabis in so many different walks of life and scenarios - from CEOs to people with arthritis."
'I don't know what I'm supposed to be giving a fuck about'
Handler poses with a fan onstage at the Burton Cummings Theatre
As with the previous shows, the evening ended with questions from the audience, including one fan who wanted to know the secret to not giving a fuck about anything.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to be giving a fuck about," Handler confessed. "Ultimately it matters what you think of yourself. If you have friends and family that love you, you don't have to give a fuck about what anyone else thinks. People are telling me to die or move to Canada all the time on Twitter. I would never spend my time following someone I don't like and then telling them how much I dislike them. Life isn't about being the most popular. If everybody likes you, you're definitely doing something wrong."
One of her other secrets to success is to not apologize for anything controversial you say as a comedian or a commentator. "I try not to apologize," she said. "I would be a terrible Canadian. But when you're talking about someone like Trump - a man who has caged children, you don't need to apologize for anything you say about him."
And when all else fails, blame Vladimir Putin. That's what Handler did when someone asked her to weigh in on the new premier of Ontario.
"How did Doug Ford get elected? Russia. We're just going to blame Russia for everything now. Fucking Russians."
For your chance to ask Chelsea Handler a question, come see 'A Civilized Conversation with Chelsea Handler.' The tour stops in Montreal on Oct. 4, then Ottawa on Oct. 5 and Toronto on Oct. 6 before wrapping in Halifax on Oct. 7. To buy tickets, click here.