18 Things to Know About Jewish Comedian Chelsea Handler

The raunchy comedy queen behind Netflix's "Chelsea Handler: Revolution" was almost Miss New Jersey!

“I think if you’re gonna do something as silly and lighthearted as entertainment, then why not be interesting when you’re doing it?” So says our fearless Jewish comedy queen Chelsea Handler, who in 2012 was named one of the 100 “most influential people in the world” by Time Magazine. You probably got to know her on shows like “Chelsea Lately” on the E! network, “Chelsea” on Netflix or her documentary series, “Chelsea Does.” The actress, writer, television host and producer’s raunchy, not-always-PC approach to storytelling has necessitated a public apology more than once. Yet, millions of fans continue to delight in Handler’s self-deprecating humor and candid commentary on relationships, sex, drugs and politics.

So who is she, really? Here are 18 things to know about Chelsea Handler:

1. Chelsea was born in Livingston, New Jersey on February 25, 1975 (a Pisces!).

2. Her father, Seymour, was an American Ashkenazi Jew, while her mother, Rita, was a Mormon born in Germany. Chelsea revealed, “I grew up as a Jew and a Mormon… I chose Jewish obviously. Mormonism is so ridiculous. But I related to… that conflict of religion for both parents.”

3. Chelsea was raised in Reform Judaism and had a bat mitzvah!

4. She is the youngest of six kids. Her oldest brother, Chet, tragically passed away in a hiking accident in 1984, but Chelsea still appears close with brothers Roy and Glen and sisters Simone and Shoshanna.

Check out this adorable throwback pic of Chelsea and Shoshanna:


5. She competed in the Miss New Jersey pageant (and was a finalist!) before moving to Los Angeles at age 19 to pursue an acting career.

Behold, Chelsea at age 14 looking very, um, “businesswoman chic”: 

(Credit: Chelsea Handler on Facebook)

6. A DUI and arrest kickstarted her career. Yep, you read that right. Chelsea discovered her gift for comedy when her confession in a mandatory DUI class left people crying from laughter.


“I had to go this class, like DUI class, where basically you had to speak publicly about your experience and your arrest,” she shared in an interview. “And at that time in my life, I had never had to speak publicly. And then I did it … and I was higher than I’ve ever been. I mean, everyone was laughing at my story. And somebody said, ‘You should be a stand-up comedian!’ And I said, ‘Maybe I should!'” 

7. She showed her “sex tape” at auditions. In 2010, the public went wild when they learned of a leaked NSFW video of Chelsea allegedly depicting her completely naked before cutting to her stand-up routine. She later clarified that the footage was intended to catch casting’s attention: “I would like to say to Radar Online, thanks for ruining my surprise Christmas gift to my staff. Number two, it was made as a joke. I put it on an audition tape for a comedy club, because I’m a comedienne, and I’ve been showing it at birthday parties for fucking years!” 

8. She’s all for body positivity and wants to #freethenip! For her 47th birthday, Chelsea went skiing in Whistler, British Columbia in nothing but panties. She posted photo evidence on social media, writing, ”It’s important to stay hydrated as well as relaxed, and it’s also important to celebrate your body no matter what age or size.”

Iconic behavior. 

9. Oh, and she’s also appeared on not one, but two covers for the December edition of Playboy.

Nothing like a hot, funny Jew absolutely killing it on the cover of a Christmas issue.

10. Chelsea’s a best-selling author! Handler has written six books that have made the New York Times Best Seller List, five of which have reached number one. In 2019, Universal TV even acquired the rights to adapt one of her books into a television series!

11. She also has her own columns in Cosmopolitan and Now, a UK celebrity magazine.

12. She dated rapper 50 Cent. When photos of the celeb couple getting cozy in bed were released around 2011, fans were sure they had to be trolling the public. While it wasn’t bashert, we can now confirm that their fling was very real, however brief! 

13. Chelsea has a celeb doppelgänger. The comedian and actress Elizabeth Banks are frequently mistaken for one another. Chelsea even said that commentator and television host Bill O’Reilly mixed her up with the star at the White House Correspondents Dinner: ”People always say, ‘They look alike, but Chelsea’s obviously much older.’ Meanwhile, we’re the same age. It’s like, what is wrong with everybody? Why can’t I just get a break?”

(Credit: Shuttershock via US Magazine)

You have to admit, it’s kind of uncanny??

14. She is a proud ally to the LGBTQ+ community. In 2009, Handler received the “Ally for Equality Award” from the Human Rights Campaign, which recognizes “the outstanding efforts of those who dedicate time, energy, spirit and whole-hearted commitment to better the lives of LGBT people.” 

That same year, she was also named as grand marshal of the Los Angeles Pride celebration “for her visible and vocal support of equality.”  

(Credit: Getty Images)

We ~love~ to see it.

15. Chelsea chooses to live “child-free.” She explained to Redbook magazine, “I just kind of fill my house with tons of rejects and misfits so it feels like I have a bunch of children.”

16. She is very open about her ADD (Attention-deficit Disorder) and attributes a lot of her drive to it: “I don’t like to be that aggressive or ambitious. I know it doesn’t seem like that, but I don’t feel like, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that.’ I have severe ADD, and I’m constantly looking to amuse myself.” 

17. She’s besties with fellow Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman! 

18. In December of 2022, she released her second comedy special in two years! You can stream “Chelsea Handler: Revolution,” on Netflix or watch a clip from it here:

Avital Dayanim

Avital Dayanim (she/her) is a writer and visual artist from Boston and Hey Alma's Audience Engagement Editor. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.

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