In her debut as host of the Critics Choice Awards, Chelsea Handler opted for a traditional Hollywood roast in her opening monologue.
“It is an honor to be your host tonight after everything that we have all been through together over the past few years between Covid, monkeypox, the Don’t Worry Darling press tour. It’s been a lot,” Handler said at the top of the monologue, a reference to the slew of salacious stories Don’t Worry Darling‘s director, Olivia Wilde, and stars, Harry Styles and Florence Pugh, generated around the film’s release.
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Prince Harry is everywhere these days, between promoting his memoir, Spare, and Netflix releasing the Harry & Meghan docu-series. He has made a slew of revelations, one of which appears to have struck a chord with Handler.
“Niecy Nash-Betts is nominated for Dahmer. Dahmer became the third highest viewed show on Netflix, which a combined watch time of 1 billion hours,” she said. “Which, apparently, is the same amount of time we’re going to have to listen to Prince Harry talk about his frostbitten penis. Enough already.”
Harry’s friend, fellow Brit James Corden, was not spared either, taking a shot over his alleged behavior that saw him briefly banned from ritzy NYC restaurant Balthazar.
Handler did it while acknowledging the cast of FX’ breakout comedy The Bear. “They showed us how grueling and how absolutely miserable working in the restaurant industry can be, and they didn’t even have to wait on James Corden,” she said.
She went on to allude to another talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres, and the toxic workplace allegations by staffers on her former daytime show, though Handler never named her fellow female comedian.
“In the movie Tár, Cate [Blanchett] portrayed an iconic lesbian whose career is affected by her toxic behavior. And she didn’t even have to host her own daytime talk show,” Handler said.
She also took a jab at Hollywood’ latest weight-loss obsession, Ozempic.
Following a reference to Julia Roberts’ nomination for her role in Gaslit, Handler said, “The word gaslighting was actually Merriam-Webster’s word of the year. And for those of you who don’t know, gaslighting is when someone tries to convince you that your own perceptions of reality are wrong. Like, when celebrities say they lost weight by drinking water but really it’s because everyone’s on Ozempic.”
Nick Cannon’s ever expanding brood also received a comedy treatment when Handler spoke about Viola Davis’ performance in The Woman King.
“As part of Viola’s training for the film, she was given a DNA test to determine the best workout regimen for her genetic makeup. Which also, coincidentally, revealed that she is Nick Cannon’s daughter,” Handler said.
The comedian also touched upon the topic of gender inequality in Hollywood.
“One of the biggest movies of the year was Avatar: The Way Of Water,” she said. “I don’t want to say that studios treat male and female directors differently but James Cameron was given a budget of $350M, and Sarah Polley had to film Women Talking in a barn.”
Handler offered her own comedic take on Kanye West’s antisemitic comments about Jews and Hollywood.
“There’s been some solid Jewish fare for this award season. We had The Fabelmans, and The Fleishmans, and that giant bagel in Everything Everywhere All At Once,” she said. “We’ve all heard a lot of nonsense recently about Jews running Hollywood. And I would like to say, as a Jewish woman, so what if they do? Who cares? The French run bakeries, Italians run the mafia, and Swedish people run IKEA.”
Beyond Hollywood, Handler addressed the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
“I’m just happy to be here tonight, supporting the critics’ right to choose,” she said. “At least someone still has the choice, unless they’re a female critic and then it just depends on what state they live in.”
And at the end of her monologue, she also roasted the Congress.
“It’s an honor to be here tonight to have all of you celebrate the brilliant results of all of your hard work, your talent and your dedication this past year,” Handler told the audience. “You have entertained us, you have moved us, enlightened us, and for the first time, Congress is more dysfunctional than Hollywood. It even has more sex offenders, so we already won.”
Following the ceremony, Handler posted a video snippet of her monologue:
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