Book Review: Chelsea Handler’s “Uganda Be Kidding Me”

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Last week was Spring Break, which meant I finally got to relax and do nothing for the first time since Winter Break. I decided that while laying on the beach soaking up the sun (with SPF 70, of course), I would read for fun again. In the airport I had picked up Chelsea Handler’s latest book, Uganda Be Kidding Me, hoping for a light, humorous beach read. I’m generally a big fan of celebrity memoirs, which I know seems ridiculous, but as an aspiring writer, I like to see how female comedians (mostly) have made it big. I absolutely loved Tina Fey’s Bossypants and had a blast reading Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and am still working on Grace Helbig’s Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to be a Grown-Up. Still on my reading list are Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind Of Girl, and Neil Patrick Harris’s Choose Your Own Autobiography. I’m not going to lie, I hope to one day write a book like one of these (unfortunately I’m not a television personality, so my chances are probably pretty limited. Oh well).

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Anyways, back to the matter at hand: Uganda Be Kidding Me. Now, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Chelsea Handler, but I also haven’t experienced a ton of her humor – I watched a few episodes of Chelsea Lately a few years ago and watched her standup performance of Uganda Be Kidding Me: Live on Netflix over winter break. First of all, I did really enjoy the book – it was well-written and funny and I would definitely recommend it to someone if they were looking for something silly to read on vacation. I would only recommend it after other books, like Bossypants, though.

My favorite part of this book was the beginning, when Chelsea was on safari in South Africa and Botswana – I loved reliving the memories of being on safari myself last spring. Putting aside the stories of elephants and giraffes, however, I’m not really sure how I feel about the book. It may just be me, but I find Chelsea Handler’s humor just a tiny bit too crude. I laughed aloud a lot, but I also felt it was entirely unnecessary to read a story about Chelsea Handler losing control of her bowels on a beach.

Chelsea Handler makes it very clear that she’s a party girl – she writes about smoking copious amounts of weed, being a “functioning” alcoholic, and sleeping around – but the way she composes herself just isn’t very classy. One of her sisters, at some point in the book, says something along the lines of “You have to understand. Chelsea is the most successful person in our family, but she’s also the biggest fuck-up.” I think that sentence accurately describes Chelsea Handler.

Honestly, my biggest problem with Chelsea Handler is not her partying or her un-classiness, she just genuinely doesn’t seem like a good person to me. She is pretty mean to her friends, she is unrelentingly selfish, and she is happy to act as if the world revolves around her. I don’t know if I can explain exactly what it is I don’t love about her, but I guess you’ll just have to read her book and make up your own mind.

If you’ve read Uganda Be Kidding Me or Chelsea Handler’s other books, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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