Handler, a Comedy Act of 2021 winner for her show Vaccinated and Horny, chatted with E! pre-show host Laverne Cox on the rep carpet at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California about falling in love with a friend of nearly 20 years.
"I never hated Jo Koy," she told Cox, who said she was surprised to hear that the pair were an item after Handler gave the fellow comic a tough time during his frequent appearances on her talk show, Chelsea Lately.
"In retrospect that was my version of flirting," Handler, 46, continued. "I think I was so out of touch with my own emotions that that was my currency … He keeps telling me that I've been in love this whole time and didn't know it so I'm just choosing to believe that."
Handler also spoke about the personal growth she's achieved, which allows her to see love that was there all along.
"I'm in a place to receive it," she said of finding romance with Koy, 50. "I'm in a much different place than I was … I do a lot of inner work. I think you have to be healthy to get healthy, so I had to really dig deep and get my stuff sorted out and then all of a sudden I saw him through a completely different lens."
That new perspective came as a surprise, she added: "I was like, wait a second — that's my guy, I think."
jo koy / instagram
Earlier, Cox said it was her first gig interviewing stars on a red carpet — but she's clearly got the hang of tossing tough questions to the talent. "How did the transition to sex happen?" she asked Handler and Koy.
"I had to make the moves. He's too polite and he's a gentleman," Handler said. "Finally, I said, 'Jo, what's the deal? Do you have a crush on me or don't you?' And then I moved in on him."
"And was it good?" Cox pried.
"Obviously," Handler said, "we're still together."
In accepting her Comedy Act award during the show, Handler gave a sweet shout-out to her boyfriend, saying: "Everything is sweeter in life because I have Jo Koy with me … Now we get to go home together and have more fun."