'Chelsea Lately' tops 'Conan' in ratings. What's she doing right?


Image Credit: E!

Team Coco better call for backup, because Chelsea Handler is coming for them. According to ratings reports, Chelsea Lately surpassed His Gingerness in ratings for the first time in June, averaging 959,000 to Conan‘s 851,000.

A number of half-baked theories could be used as reasons why ratings fell in Handler’s favor this month (Pilot buzz? Book/tour success?), but one thing is clear: She’s doing something right.

I was tardy to Chelsea’s late-night, booze-soaked party. But once I arrived, I found myself simultaneously shocked and appreciative — shocked by the amount of bad language and rated-R conversation topics (pearls = clutched) and appreciative of her candidness, especially with celebrities. (Among my faves? When she semi-mocked Justin Bieber’s hair wiggle.)

Admittedly, the celebrity portion is usually the part I tune in for. In addition to her calling out people on douche-tastic behavior, it’s become a game of sorts for celebrities to make Handler squirm. (Pharrell offered her… what?). It’s uncomfortable at times, often awkward, but mostly just different — albeit pleasantly raunchy. I can appreciate that. I’d even consider myself a proud member of the non-lame, Chelsea Handler-equivalent of Team Coco — The Handle Bars, perhaps? Team Hanandler? The Chelsea Peers?

What do you think, readers? Why are people suddenly more interested in Chelsea Lately than Conan?

Read more:
Chelsea Handler tells ‘New York Times’ about her abortion, how she really feels about ‘Chelsea Lately’
Chelsea Handler talks 50 Cent, love, kids, and politics with Piers Morgan
Gwyneth Paltrow talks her mean grandmother on ‘Chelsea Lately,’ drops the c-bomb


Comments (89 total) Add your comment
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  • Batman

    Conan does comedy from a place of fear these days. And I am fear.

    • Jerry

      Best post of the year!

    • Matt


    • stu

      u must be a 14 yr old boy (Chelsea’s target audience)Sandra to have written this article.

    • dani

      It was such a mistake for conan to go to cable. If only he could go back in time and take the offer that fox had offered 6 years ago.

      • Lakawak

        Fox never made any offer 6 years ago. I am not even sure where you THINK you were getting that information. Not only was he already locked into his NBC contract at that point, but just like 2010, Fox affiliates were NOT going to give up their prime rerun timeslot to the network.

    • John

      i don’t watch them
      i only watch ferguson

      • elaine

        Me too! Nobody comes close to entertaining like Craig Ferguson!

  • LOL

    Conan needs to get back to the style and humor of his old late night NBC show. This version of Conan feels too sterile.

    • DavidJ

      Agreed. I was hoping to see the looser, wackier Conan again, but all he really seems to be doing is another version of his Tonight Show.

      • LMFAO

        I think you both are exactly right.

    • Aaron Kammerman

      Tonight they redid his old desk driving bit tonight. It showed that Conan can still be creative and funny when he puts effort into it.

      • Lakawak

        Did you hear yourself? They REDID something and you say it shows he can be creative?

  • David

    I like Chelsea’s show better because of the roundtable. Plus she is very who cares about what she says. And, if you want to see the guest plugging their current whatever they are done by 11:30 and I’m outta there!!!

    • Jackie

      I agree, I like the roundtable. The only thing that could be improved? Get rid of Chuey and his canned, rehearsed answers to the news stories. Never, never funny.

      • reeree

        Chuey makes me laugh.

  • PJ

    Because Conan isn’t funny. Didn’t we already learn this with his Tonight Show debacle?

    • Commodore Schmidlapp

      Obvious troll is obvious.

    • jay

      Not being funny has never stopped Leno from getting good ratings.

      • SaraS


      • D


      • jose

        lol I still would rather watch Jay than Conan

  • stacey

    Because she is funny as hell!

  • em

    Can’t stand Chelsea. She sounds bored all the time. The people on the roundtable CAN be funny, but some just try too hard.

  • Pittner

    It’s not about what Handler is doing right, it’s what America is doing wrong. There is no creativity whatsoever to her comedy. It’s based on pure shock value which our culture is all about nowadays. Conan isn’t as funny as he used to be but I just don’t find Handler funny at all. Of course this is just my opinion I know and based on the ratings it appears most would disagree with me.

    • Ted

      I agree with Pittner. So much of popular culture today is based on being as obnoxious and mean-spirited as possible with no thought to creativity. Handler can do that very well, and that’s not a compliment. And, as Pittner says, the ratings are telling us this resonates with a lot of viewers. That’s fine; makes me feel good that I’m that much more sophisticated that so many others.

    • Lakawak

      Yes…because everything YOU like is inherently funny and better than what you don’t like. Your OPINIONS are fact.

  • dj

    It’s all Chuy. He’s a master of comic timing.

  • Jay Leno

    I told you Conana wasn’t funny but you didn’t believe me…and gave me a hard time

  • souvien

    can’t believe EW is missing the lead from the Q@ ratings…Stewart/Colbert are now the #1 late-night show in the demo…they just beat Leno!

    • Miffy

      They didn’t actually. Leno has twice as many viewers as Stewart. For the 18-49 demographic (which advertisers prefer), Comedy Central excluded all repeat telecasts in order to come up with a number that beat Leno by a hair. Leno still wins when you factor in every day of the quarter. Nice try, though, CC.

  • Kat

    I think her books are hilarious, but i’ve never cared for her show for some reason. For one, I can’t stand the people she has on her roundtable. They aren’t funny, they’re usually just mean.

  • The Dude

    I think we also need to consider the runtimes…Handler’s show is only 30 minutes (as compared to Conan, which is an hour). While true “late-night” fans would probably not even consider this in their choice of what to watch, casual viewers who have work in the morning may be more prone to tuning in to Handler’s show because, by the end, they can jump in bed 30 minutes earlier. Maybe?

  • Wendy

    I miss all Conan’s old NBC bits. Nothing he has done yet is the same. I miss if they mated and the lips on the celebs like Arnold from the old days. I watch Jimmy Fallon now.

    • Cassie

      His old NBC bits are most likely not coming back. He has said that he wants to try new things on “Conan”, and I think he’s as funny as he’s ever been. Besides, his old bits aren’t going to be funny forever, you know.

    • Jeff

      You do realize that he no longer owns those bits, right? They are the property of NBC. He could do what Letterman did and ignore the lawsuit threat and he just continued with the Top Ten List, Stupid Pet Tricks, etc. Conan seems to be taking it as a chance to try new things. Peopld don’t always go for that but it’s his choice. I see it often and it is still a very funny show. People just hate change. Chelsea’s show is stand-ups doing their act around a table. Too forced.

  • anikes

    Conan’s sense of humor is very specific, it does not appeal to a lot of people, my self included. That said, I can’t stand Chelsea Lately, her one on one interview are awkward not funny, she always looks bored. The roundtable people are usually funny though. Oh and every time I see Chelsea interact with Chuy, I want to buy him some self-esteem.

  • tonybotz

    yikes- i can’t watch either. she’s a bitter mean spirited hag and he was funny when i was in college -

    • D

      You use the word “hag” and call someone ELSE out for being mean spirited?

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