When I received this text, my reaction was very specific: it got me going. I have to assume it arose because my early twenties were spent impulsively knocking off as many wild "romantic" incidents as I could get myself into, so there really isn't a lot left to my imagination. Another theory could be that writing has always been a passion of mine, so to be asked to dive further into the matter sets off the part of my brain where the "Passion Neurons" live.*
*A scientist will later say that this is "recklessly incorrect."
Some of you might ask, "Olivia do you really love writing if you're only posting on your blog like, what? Once every two months?" To which I will say, "Please do not ask questions that remind my already very high cortisol levels that I made a large credit card payment to secure the domain, 'FreeSampleOlivia.com' only for it not to be used weekly. But to answer your question yes, I do. Writing is a lot of re-writing and I would like to show you all the final pieces rather than the 15 minutes of incoherent brain dumping I do every morning that look a lot like a journal of reflection mixed with dark, self-deprecating thoughts mixed with what I need to pick up from Trader Joe's."
The answer to the question is also something I could talk about for hours so I'm shamelessly turning the answer to this question into an opportunity I can capitalize on** by creating a series of posts*** that highlight books, authors, mentors, or moments that inspired my writing as you read it today.
**An economist or anyone who barely showed up to Business 101 will tell you that this statement is also false, as there are no ads running on this site to gain revenue but rather, just sad pleas to donate directly to Olivia located around the webpage in un-strategic places such as here:
(please and thank you)
*** Aren't you glad I didn't say podcast?
Without further ado, I would like to share one of--if not the--most impactful woman to my comedic writing today: Chelsea Handler.
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang
Written by Chelsea Handler
(read in 2010)
I found Handler’s talkshow, Chelsesa Lately, on a family vacation thanks to the televisions in our rooms being set to a much later time zone. It could be 2 PM on this island, but Adult Swim would already be deep into their 3 AM programming. While most modern day comedians will tell you they stayed up late to watch Carson, Letterman, and insert other white guy, I had much stricter parents who called my day quits at 9 PM--9:30 if I was extra bratty and conniving. On top of that, a rare stroke of luck would have it that we would all have our own rooms on this trip, and mine was located downstairs away from everyone, which is and remains the perfect scenario for a Scorpio. As a full-blown Californian, this would be the closest I would have to the experience of "hanging out in a basement." (Am I pronouncing that correctly? BAHZ-mawnt?) The only other "basement" experience was spent drinking a Rum & Beer (not Coke) in a bomb shelter under a 1960's home in San Diego.
So, somewhere in my teens, I imbibed all the raunchiness of the confident Chelsea Handler that I could via back-to-back episodes, completely enthralled with my introduction to late night television. My night inevitably ended when a QVC-esque program selling vibrators came on, and it was impossible for my soft squish of a brain to comprehend how beads and pink rabbits could be involved.
I woke up the next morning with my first set of under-eye bags thanks to E! (The channel, not the drug--that happens later in life and involves a toddler-like meltdown at a pool in Hawaii, but I need to save that story for a book deal or when at least five of you buy me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/freesampleolivia.) After we came home from the trip, I would watch almost every episode of Chelsea Lately and see her perform live at an amphitheater in North Hollywood that Universal Studios has now replaced with a half-assed Harry Potter-themed rollercoaster. I became a full on fan of her television and stand up persona before it dawned on me that I should pick up one of her publications. Because I had seen her perform on the book tour for Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, I decided to start there.
It wasn’t long before I was hooked and was getting copies of her other reads: My Horizontal Life, Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea, and her co-authored book Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me. (If you send me a message I’ll let you know where you should start based on your personality and astrological sign).
At the time, I didn’t realize non-fiction could illicit any response other than falling asleep. And while I had always enjoyed reading fiction, I found that all of the fiction I had read fell into three categories:
1. So magical they couldn't possibly exist in our universe without a film franchise
2. So closely adjacent to our actual reality that they seemed preachy--sorry, Beverly Cleary & Judy Blume
3. Assigned reading that never got any benefit of the doubt as a great piece of text and were reduced down to their "Themes & Motifs" page on Sparknotes
This might sound dumb, but reading Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang was the first time I realized that blocks of text could be just as funny at the same intervals as visual media, and that moment changed the discord of my writing style forever. Look, I'm not so detached from my own self-awareness to know that I force feed a ton of flowery prose down my readers' throats before they realize the narrative of the story is a protagonist sulking over an ex-lover (YET AGAIN), but I'd like to think that if there's some jokes sprinkled through out, the piece becomes palatable, and dare I say enjoyable. All this to say, the realization that books could make me burst into laughter (and not just expel air in mild amusement) was exciting and liberating! Now imagine if I could just figure out what the beads in vibrators are supposed to do.
I can't deny one of the best guilty pleasures in reading celebrity-written (or ghost-written) books is getting to the middle section where there are laminated pages of color photos, so in an effort to pay homage to that as well, please enjoy the following:
(Above): I went to a handful of Chelsea Lately tapings while it was on the air, and if you brought your books, she would sign them. If you're not a part of the industry, this is pretty endearing. If you are a part of the industry, this image will probably make you cringe and exasperate a "Oh, that's...cute."
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If you enjoyed this post, please hit that little Heart button, I hear it gooshes when you click it because it's enthused. If you'd like to read a piece thats voice is very inspired by Ms. Handler, check out: What Are We Doing To Shoes? Lastly, Olivia really does run on caffeine, and your contribution will be personally thanked, please consider donating today: