The 9 Most Scathing Critical Responses to Chelsea Handler's VMA Performance

Note to future Video Music Award hosts: Television critics are generally not fans of herpes humor, pre-taped sketches parodying sexual harassment, overtly sexual come-ons, one-liners about accidental pregnancies, casual racism, or any kind of material about your promiscuity and/or alcoholism -- at least if you're a female comedian. Take Movieline's word for it, because Chelsea Handler learned the hard way. Read on for nine criticisms -- from fair to downright hateful -- of the first lady VMA host in sixteen years.

9 "Host Chelsea Handler gave the show its traditional bawdiness, though her jokes often fell flat." -- Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press

8. " felt a little like Host the VMAs Paint-by-Numbers -- Gaga's both the easiest and the lamest (not to mention the most willing) target around. [...] The obligatory Kanye nod -- calling him "the big black elephant in the room" -- was equally edgy-but-boring." -- Jennifer Armstrong, Entertainment Weekly

7. "It pains me to say it, but Chelsea Handler was in over her head with hosting duties. The stage was just too big for her and the audience too distant. She boringly oscillated between jokes about sleeping with rappers and jokes about partying hard, sometimes with a dash of absurdist bad behavior (like trying to steal Justin Bieber's 'wig')." -- Alan Sepinwall,

6. "'I want to encourage everyone to be on their worst behavior,' comedian Chelsea Handler declared in her opening monologue, a string of flat punch lines that felt a few degrees below crass. Sample zinger: 'It's time to acknowledge the big black elephant in the room. Where's Kanye?' Ugh." -- Chris Richards, Washington Post

5. "...most of her skits fell flat: She jumped in the hot tub with the Jersey Shore cast (heels and all) and exited with a tired joke in the form of a faux baby bump. She addressed last year's West-Swift debacle by warning off stage crashers with a stupid self-defense demonstration. [...] And she made an unfortunate joke about riding home on the face of the hot werewolf from True Blood." -- Rebecca Adler Warren, AOL TV

4. "Chelsea Handler never gave us a moment that seemed to veer from whatever was on the teleprompter. [...] Like the incredibly hammered aunt who hits on the clown at your daughter's fifth birthday party, Handler's main appeal these days increasingly seems to be her ability to make you feel considerably better about your own life choices." -- Mary Elizabeth Williams,

3. "Humor was also much appreciated, given how intently host Chelsea Handler tried to murder comedy over the course of the broadcast." -- Brian Cantor,

2. "And then there was the awkward plight of the night's host, Chelsea Handler. She was among the worst in the show's history -- purposefully out-of-touch, with brief, alarming flashes of off-color racial humor. On her talk show, Chelsea Lately, in a smaller setting, her interviews with musicians, rappers in particular, are consistently hilarious and inappropriate. Here, she never looked comfortable, undone by nerves, brittle material and the wattage of those around her." -- Jon Caramanica, New York Times

1. "In an act that could be construed as Monday morning torture, I've re-posted that almost unbearable awful Chelsea Handler open, in the off-chance someone might have missed and is wondering why everyone is standing around the watercooler - metaphoric or real - with a look of post-VMA nausea and disgust." -- Verne Gay, Newsday


  • Martini Shark says:

    I agree with all of them. She sullied the respectable name of the VMAs, and set culture in this country back ten years. Normally a VMA telecast will only set the culture back between 5-8 years.

  • Lauren says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with ALL the criticisms. Handler is a crass,stupid,sleazy big fat BORE! She does nothing funny and picks on the same cliched crap that a million comedians have don and done better. Being smug and snarky can only go so far especially when you really aren't even funny just ask Dennis Miller.

  • TurdBlossom says:


  • TurdBlossom says:

    I hope Chelsea had her shots. Getting into a hot tub with the cast of Jersey Shore is the equivelant of licking the floor of a New York subway car after rush hour.

  • Ryan says:

    Chelsead did great. She was the only reason I tuned into the VMA's last night...she kept the show alive and energized. Here's hoping she returns next year.

  • Jack Frost says:


  • Mike the Movie Tyke says:

    So that's nine ways to say that Chelsea Handler isn't funny, which has always been true. Her success is truly baffling.

  • Mick says:

    The VMAs were “okay”. Nothing really seemed groundbreaking or worthy of talking about. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t good… it just was. I did think Chelsea Handler did a good job once she loosened up. She seemed a little stiff at start, but I can’t imagine many people not being a little intimidated by entering that experience for the first few minutes. So who hosts NEXT YEAR? Here’s an interesting look…

  • No it isn't. She banged the head guy at the E! network for a while.

  • GET REAL says:

    If Chelsea did such a "bad job" then why was it the highest rated VMAs since 2002? The thing is, nobody (that watches the VMAs) cares about critics because they are not supposed to be these amazingly classy awards. And if you don’t want to see some raunchy jokes then don’t watch an MTV awards show. It’s only because she’s a woman that makes people uncomfortable that she’s so open to the type of jokes men do all the time. The VMAs and MTV are not in any way “respectable” so I have no clue why anyone would stoop to saying that just to bash Handler and her crude humor.
    I think that Chelsea Handler did a great job with what she was given to work with. Honestly, people don’t give her any credit and it’s because they’re intimidated and shocked a woman can talk like a man and not feel ashamed. Grow up people, it’s nearly 2011 and its time that more women are hosting awards shows and late night talk shows. Also, MTV is sexist for actually bringing in Aziz Ansari (host of MTV movie awards) at the end. Almost as if they were saying, “We don’t need you to speak all the time Chelsea.”
    The show all in all was really dull and Handler was the only thing that made it funny. I would rather see Handler host the MTV Movie Awards or maybe Peoples Choice Awards. She has become famous and successful because she is funny, does a great job, and works hard. She did not have to make a sex tape like Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian to get famous. And she only started getting involved with the guy at E! after her show started and she is supposedly “single” now. So people, shut your mouths and stop talking crap.

    • Todd Danner says:

      I completely disagree with the statement "It’s only because she’s a woman that makes people uncomfortable that she’s so open to the type of jokes men do all the time."

      This bullshit AGAIN? "Oh, it's because she is a women. Nothing more." No. Female comedians all SUCK not because people are sexist, (even though I'm sure some are) but because they try too hard, (making it not funny) they use rehashed jokes, and because they think using dirty humor will "hook" male audience members. It's like a women using her sex appeal to make people try to think she is funny. I see this in literally almost every single female comedian. (stand up mostly) I can't respect comedians like that and I don't find them funny. And on top of all of that, all she does on her show is make fun of people... I'm guessing she does it because anyone can make fun of someone, not anyone can be remotely funny.

  • Super Mario says:

    And YOU sullied any chance of us taking your comment seriously by referring to the VMAs as "respectable".

  • William Dwyer says:

    Oh dear lord, am I the only one that took those comments as sarcastic? Come on people, does it have to be spelled out for you?!? The second sentence ALONE refers to the comment as "in-gest".

  • William Dwyer says:

    I also happened to like Handler. I think she unfortunately was just the wrong type of comedy for the crowd. For the MTV viewer, it's fine...but the MTV Music Awards is their top show of the year, and they tend to bring in an audience that isn't the "Jackass-type" fans. The viewers are, but the audience was not. I think Chelsea's humor tends to be better suited in front of an audience that actually wants to get it. The audience there just wanted to watch stars, and the stars just want to watch themselves. There were not there to watch Chelsea (as her audience is on her show). Chelsea was just doing what she always does, which wasn't the problem. The VMA audience just didn't care.

  • June says:

    The VMAs did well not because of Handler, but because of the previous vmas debacle the year before. (i.e. Kanye West/Taylor Swift). MTV did itself a favor, by hyping up that event and insinuating that Kanye West and Taylor Swift would be back to perform this time around. That was the only reason, the VMAs was it's highest. Chelsea Handler is beyond unfunny. If you think Chelsea Handler is the only women comedian to ever talk like a man, then I feel sorry for you, cause there are for more talented women comedians who really bring it. We get it Chelsea Handler, you're an alcoholic. So hysterical.

  • says:

    Chelsea Handler is about as funny as blood in the urine.

  • lucy baty says:

    I find her NOT funny, mean, hateful etc...

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