Chelsea Handler chooses Chicago for the people and the pizza

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This past June, stand-up comic and talk show host Chelsea Handler taped her newest comedy special, “Uganda Be Kidding Me,” at the Harris Theatre in Chicago. A few days before the special was set to debut Oct. 10 on Handler’s new broadcasting home Netflix, she took some calls from journalists around the country.

Asked why she chose Chicago for her “Uganda” tapings, Handler expressed her adoration for the city (surprise!), saying, “I love Chicago, are you kidding me? Where else am I going to get my deep-dish? I have no other options. Chicago’s been a good city to me since I started doing stand-up. It was the only city where I’ve always, always had great shows, even when I was doing small clubs. So New York or L.A. were a little too obvious [for the special]. I’m from New Jersey and I’m not that excited about going back there even when I do, so I took an opportunity to go to a city I love. Chicago was an obvious choice.”

The special covers her recent safari trip to another favorite place, Africa, where she did not visit her show’s violence-torn titular country and instead stuck to much safer locales.

“I just love to travel. I’ve always loved to travel. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to go to Africa, so when I saw the time I thought, ‘We should do this.’ I planned the trip in about two weeks. I just grabbed two of my girlfriends. I said, ‘We have to go to Africa, we have to go on Safari,’ and they said, ‘We can’t plan a safari in two weeks.’ I said, ‘Sure we can. Let me take care of it.’ And we did it and it ended up making me write another book [also titled “Uganda Be Kidding Me”], which I didn’t go there with the intention of doing. So it was a great trip for a million different reasons, but it’s a place I’d go back to time and time again. Africa is literally like being in another world.

“We went there for a sort of educational trip,” she said, “and we turned it into some sort of spring break safari. It wasn’t what I set out to do, but nonetheless it [proved] to be a good material source for me, as usual. But I think any trip is a good material source if you’re a little bit off of center.”

In recalling her pre-fame years in Chicago on the stand-up circuit, Handler had only good memories.

“There’s weren’t very many low points in that city, for whatever reason,” she said. “It’s a good combination of the East Coast and the West Coast, smack dab not quite in the middle of the country but middle enough. I’m the archetype of the American girl, so maybe that’s why.”

Warning: strong language

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