It appears that Chelsea Handler might be leaving “Chelsea Lately” after her contract with E! expires this year, which raises a couple of questions: 1) Did she simply run out of intrusive things to ask Chuy? 2) What's she going to do next?
The first answer is unknowable, but the second is clear: probably a lot. I assume a couple of books will be on the immediate horizon, and she's almost certainly courting offers for hosting shows on major networks. But in case she wants to choose a less expected path to continued prominence, we have her covered. Here are our seven suggestions for Chelsea's next move.
1. A smaller, quieter celebrity interview webshow.
Chelsea Lately has always been divided into two starkly different halves: the comedian roundtable and the celebrity interview. Though the roundtable is what gives “Lately” a specific brand of irreverence, Chelsea's main gift is tapping into her famous guests and getting them to admit pretty surprising things. If she had a smaller interview series with more talk time and without an audience, I imagine she could cover a lot of ground. She could use Diablo Cody's web series “Red Band Trailer” (where Handler once appeared as a guest) as a standard.
2. Sitcom mother Chelsea was both cool and believable as an unamused mother on “In the Motherhood,” a seven-episode web series from 2009. Her rancor added a surprising edge to an otherwise familiar rolem and I think that's a largely untapped part of Chelsea's appeal: She can make traditional jokes and attitudes interesting by being just a tad darker than her contemporaries. She's like if Claire Dunphy from Modern Family (Julie Bowen) were always at the end of her rope.
3. Reality show judge
Yes, the panel is already in place for the new season of “Last Comic Standing,” but Chelsea's dismissive judgments and (sensitive) brutality are perfect for judging a reality competition show. Face it: At this point she's a better pick for “LCS” than Roseanne. You'd trust Chelsea's take more. Frankly, if there's still time, “America's Got Talent” should drop Heidi Klum and pick up Chelsea.
4. Concert film
Though Chelsea Handler is primarily a standup comic, surprisingly few people know her as a theater draw. If Kathy Griffin can produce a dozen (or more?) standup specials, surely Handler can get together enough material for her own version of “I'm the One That I Want,” Margaret Cho's standup film that remains one of the funniest entries in the genre. Did I mention that Handler is constantly performing standup? Because she is.
5. An hour-long interview with Piers Morgan
Because Piers Morgan had Chelsea on his show and was subsequently served, we should see the tables turned. Let Chelsea interview him for an hour and show him how a real, attentive interview is conducted.
6. A “Midnight”-style comedy game show
One of the awesome things about “Chelsea Lately” is how often it gives new comics a chance to be funny, comment on news, and enjoy a national spotlight. Chelsea is great at letting new talents shine while contributing her own droll commentary, so I'd like to see a version of Comedy Central's “Midnight” with Chelsea at the helm letting new comics make tweet-length jokes about the day's events. In fact: Chelsea would probably make a good game show host in general. Just saying.
7. Appear on HBO's “MasterClass”
Liv Ullmann. Edward Albee. Patti LuPone. And now: Chelsea. “MasterClass” is an excellent series where entertainment legends mentor newcomers, and so far we haven't seen a standup comic take the reins. Chelsea could nurture (and intimidate) young comics into being great — with both constructive feedback and withering glances.