The pandemic hasn’t been all doom and gloom for comedian Chelsea Handler.

Sure, she wasn’t able to tour or play packed houses for much of the last year and a half. But she did find the pandemic helped her to be much more efficient in getting out of bad dates.

“I would give potential suitors a COVID test. And if they said anything annoying, I’d just tell them they tested positive and they’d have to leave,” said Handler, during a recent phone interview. “It’s really a great way to get out of anything you don’t want to do.”

But one thing Handler really wants to do is tour, and she’s finally getting to do that. Her “Vaccinated and Horny Tour” started in early October and will come to Portland’s Merrill Auditorium on Nov. 18. She’s just one of several touring comedians who are coming to Portland in the next couple of months, now that COVID-19 crowd restrictions have been lifted in much of the country and performers are once again hitting the road.

Bianca Del Rio performs at Portland’s State Theatre on Oct. 25. Photo courtesy of Bianca Del Rio

Other comics headed to town include Kyle Kinane at Portland House of Music on Oct. 24, drag queen comic Bianca Del Rio at the State Theatre on Oct. 25, former Maine deputy sheriff Juston McKinney at Aura on Nov. 12, and YouTube star Jacksfilms at Aura on Nov. 17. The Portland House of Music is also hosting comics from all over New England at the New England Roast Battle, being held weekly this fall. The next one is Tuesday.

Handler is probably best-known as host of the late-night TV talk show “Chelsea Lately” which ran on the E! cable network from 2007 to 2015. Her best-selling book “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea” was the basis of an NBC sitcom that aired in 2012.

Handler said her shows this fall will be filled with observations about life during the pandemic, with an emphasis on laughing at what we’ve all been through. She said she had worked hard her whole life to remain “childless and alone” and so was not too pleased when her sister and her sister’s three children moved in with her during the pandemic.

“So I sold my house to avoid that happening again,” she said.

YouTube star Jacksfilms will be at Aura in Portland on Nov. 17. Photo courtesy of Jackfilms

She also said that because of COVID, she had to live without her housekeeper, whom she calls her adult nanny. So it was just her and her dogs. She said that time made her realize “my dogs have zero respect for me.”

During the pandemic, she also spent some time in a rented house in Biddeford Pool. She’s friendly with Barbara Bush, the daughter of former President George W. Bush, so she dropped in on them at their home in Kennebunkport. She said she worked hard to avoid saying “anything rude” in the former president’s company and believes she succeeded. She was also in Maine just last month, when her boyfriend – comedian Jo Koy – played the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

Handler says being on tour now is great, but it also feels like a mission. She feels like after all the country has been through the last couple of years – the pandemic plus massive political and social unrest – her job as a comedian is more important than ever.

“People have gotten pretty ugly with each other, they can’t agree and they can’t forget. But we’re all in this together,” said Handler. “I feel very passionately about being on tour now, to remind people what it’s like to belly laugh together until their stomachs hurt.”

Handler’s Portland show is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Merrill Auditorium. Tickets are $59.75 and up. For more information, go to portix.com.

Here is a little about some of the other comics coming to Maine soon. It’s a good idea to check venue websites for current COVID-19 measures, including requirements for proof of vaccination or negative test results.

COMICS COMING SOON

Kyle Kinane is known for specials on the Comedy Central cable network and for appearances on late-night talks shows, including “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on NBC and “Conan” on TBS. He’s also appeared on Comedy Central’s “Drunk History.” He is scheduled to do two shows at the Portland House of Music on Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. (sold out) and 10 p.m. as part of his “So….Where Were We?” tour. Tickets are $25 to $35. For tickets and more information, go to statetheatreportland.com.

Promotional materials for Bianca Del Rio’s current “Unsanitized” tour say she’s “vaxxed, waxed, and she has more attitude than ever.” It adds that if you liked COVID-19, “you’ll love BIANCA-21.”  Otherwise known as Roy Haylock, Del Rio is a drag queen best known for her performance on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on VH1. She also starred in the film “Hurricane Bianca” in 2016 and the sequel “Hurricane Bianca 2: From Russia with Hate.” Both are available on streaming services. Del Rio will be at the State Theatre Oct. 25 for an 8 p.m. show, and tickets are $39.50, reserved seating. For tickets and more information, go to statetheatreportland.com. 

Comic Juston McKinney, a former Maine deputy sheriff, performs at Aura in Portland on Nov. 12. Photo courtesy of Juston McKinney

Juston McKinney has spent the last 20 years making people laugh as a stand-up comic, but for seven years in the 1990s he was helping to keep Maine a safer place. McKinney, who grew up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Kittery, worked as a York County deputy sheriff before heading to New York City to pursue comedy. He’s had his own special on Comedy Central and appeared on late-night TV shows, including NBC’s “Tonight Show” and “Conan.” He also co-hosted a Showtime comedy special with former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. McKinney’s show at Aura in Portland is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 12. Tickets start at $20. For tickets and more information, go to auramaine.com 

Jacksfilms, whose real name is John Patrick Douglass, has gained fame over the past decade or more for comedy on his YouTube channel, including infomercial parodies, sketches and funny music videos. He’s also big on making comedy out of comments or submissions from viewers. In his “Your Grammar Sucks” segments, he makes fun of – take a guess – incorrect grammar. On his current tour, he’s doing a live version of his interactive segment YIAY (“Yesterday I asked you”) where he asks people odd questions. His Nov. 17 show is scheduled for Aura in Portland at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $35. For tickets and information, go to auramaine.com.


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