Chelsea Handler, Seth Meyers open 8th annual Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival

The comics discussed books, politics, therapy, and cannabis.

Chelsea Handler and Seth Meyers open the 8th annual Martha's Vineyard Book Festival.
Chelsea Handler and Seth Meyers open the 8th annual Martha's Vineyard Book Festival. –Brittany Bowker

Chelsea Handler and Seth Meyers opened the 8th annual Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival Friday evening with a candid conversation covering books, politics, therapy, activism, and Handler’s impending line of cannabis products.

Handler’s sixth book (and fifth #1 New York Times Best Seller) “Life Will Be the Death of Me” was published in April. The book’s themes departs from the comedian’s typically raunchy rhetoric, digging up topics like childhood love and loss, political activism, and self-reflection. Handler called the book “creative vomit” in response to the 2016 election.

The former “Chelsea Lately” late night talk show host was in “a torpedo of despair” after the election of President Donald Trump and decided she’d had enough of living in a “privileged bubble,” she said. She sought therapy and met her match in an earnest, brainy psychiatrist, Dan Siegal – who became an integral part of her life (and book). Siegal helped Handler uncover unaddressed adolescent trauma that stemmed from her brother’s unexpected death when she was 9 years old.


“My brain emotionally shut down,” Hander told a sold-out audience at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center in Oak Bluffs. Later, she recalled promising herself, as a 9-year-old, that she’d never cry about her brother again.

Meyers honed in on the message of the book, as well as the evening, “It’s never too late to go back and fix something from your past,” he said.

Meyers, Emmy Award-winning writer and the host of “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” offered effortless comedic commentary as he interviewed Handler throughout hour-and-a-half long conversation. Both comedians took audience questions at the end of the evening, which wrapped up around 7:30 p.m.

Handler also announced her impending line of cannabis products expected to launch this November. “I’m hoping to send free samples out to the world,” she said.

Amy Schumer made a guest appearance on stage. The three comics have ties to Martha’s Vineyard: Meyers spends summers in Chilmark with his wife, kids, and in-laws, Handler grew up summering in Edgartown, and Schumer married chef Chris Fischer, a Vineyard native, in February of last year.

The Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival continues Saturday and Sunday, with events, talks, and discussions across the island.