A handle on Chelsea: drinking, life and laughs

A couple years ago Chelsea Handler was surprised she sold out Pearl at the Palms, and now she’s headlining at the far larger Colosseum at Caesars (May 29, $49.50 to $99.50). “I had to class up my act a little bit,” she says. Really? “No, I just thought I should say that for the casino.”

Next thing you know, she’s talking about scoring with Katie Couric on a date: “I hope to have a romantic liaison with her,” she says. “I am single now.” It’s hard to say when Handler is composing jokes or simply cracking wise about her life. Asked about the line between life and humor, Handler keeps it blurry: “When people come up and say, ‘Hey, Chelsea,’ they really are talking to me. It is pretty true. People think because I talk about drinking that I drink more than I do. But I definitely drink. I am just not a hot mess. I am not slurring or falling down or anything like that.”

Except when it comes to Vegas, Handler notes that moderation is not on her agenda. “Vegas things get a little bit crazy. I have a bunch of friends who jump on the plane with me. I love to gamble—blackjack. I have a huge strategy to lose all my money in one fell swoop instead of over a period of time. By the time we get back on the plane most of us are unconscious for the next couple of days.”

Handler’s autobiographical humor now fuels not only her stand-up and cable show, Chelsea Lately, but a series of best-selling books. If her life were ever to transition into normality, would she run out of material? Actually, this is not an issue Handler is concerned with, and not because she feels endlessly creative. “My life is not getting more normal,” she says with conviction. This is especially true, she adds, now that she is single. “It is nice not to have somebody up my ass.” And then, after a moment of silence, she adds, “Figuratively.”

New Age in the Buffet. Chef Tina Martini also likes to share a drink with her audience during the taping of her live cooking show-turned-local cable show, Martini Time, at M Resort. Unlike comedy, performance-cooking requires knives, and she notes, “I only have a sip; I want to keep all of my fingers.”

The mixture of a hot entertainment trend, the cooking show, with a Vegas institution, the buffet (the studio is tucked into a corner of M’s gigantic buffet), has proven a flavorful match. Tapings are routinely sold out. But unlike the stuff-yourself-full aesthetic of the buffet, Martini prefers small portions and healthful food. The audience is even given a “Phyto Nutrition Chart,” which informs that leafy greens have isothiocyanates that “boost the body’s natural cancer-fighting enzymes.”

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Martini—other than her flamboyant stage presence—is just how many ideas (approximately 5,500 written recipes) she has for making food, and all with natural ingredients that she tries to make sure are easy to find locally.

“I am really interested in putting beautiful food together that is nutritious as well as delicious,” she says. So, for Mother’s Day she made up spinach and goat cheese cups that the audience sampled like connoisseurs. “Health food should not taste like cardboard. We should eat foods that help our health and taste good.” After Martini prepares the food, she answers questions and dispenses advice on nutrition and alternative ingredients.

Then, when the taping is over, the audience takes their Phyto Nutrition Chart and recipes with them as they herd into the buffet lines to enjoy comfort foods. Is transitioning from healthful eating to saturated fat seem a contradiction? Perhaps, but only in the most Vegas of ways.

Boulder Blues. Almost every casino has a lounge where bands play free, creating local connoisseurs of “My Sharona” covers. But what makes the free series of blues shows at Boulder Station (Thursdays at 8 p.m.) special is the quality and originality of the music. For years, rather than offer a house band, Boulder Blues has gone the distance with $2 draft beer and no cover to see real artists whose names are known to blues aficionados. On June 3, Tinsley Ellis, a guitar great whose fans include the Allman Brothers and REM’s Peter Buck, will play. 

Read Richard Abowitz’s Las Vegas blog at GoldPlatedDoor.com.

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