A funny thing about mockumentaries, they tend to, well, mock or exaggerate the natural persona of the subject to the point where you can’t really believe that’s how truly terrible that person really is. But with the new “After Lately,” the spin-off of comedian/talk show host Chelsea Handler’s “Chelsea Lately,” which shows a mock behind-the-scenes look at her nightly E! show, what you see is what you get.
“Yeah, it’s not that exaggerated,” laughs Heather McDonald, a writer and roundtable regular on “Chelsea Lately” and star of “After Lately.” “The relationships between everyone on the show is very real. That’s really how we talk to each other.”
So when we see Handler call her staff ridiculous morons or calls writer Brad Wollock “the office Albino” for his red hair and pale skin, that’s not too far from reality, even if the show is scripted? “Yes! Most of her meanness comes out of complete love. She calls Brad’s looks ridiculous but she loves him. It’s like teasing a brother. Her mean streak is all out of fun and love,” explains Sarah Colonna, a writer and round table regular on “Chelsea Lately” and star of “After Lately.”
We pressed Handler’s two leading ladies for more dirt on the star, on their new show “After Lately,” and what really goes on in the offices…
How much of the show is based in reality and how much is scripted?
Sarah: People think it’s a reality show, but it’s a scripted show, documentary style, that is not reality but based on real events that have happened around the office and those events are heightened for comedic purposes. Some events were written exactly how they happened, and others the writers added stuff.
Heather: Some people are confused like, ‘Did that really happen?’ It is based on stories that really happened to us and it is exaggerated and written at times by our writers.
There are tons of pranks on the show. Do you really prank each other that much?
Sarah: Yeah, we really do a lot of pranks. Brad has opened up his desk drawer after trying to find a smell to find a big pile of clams that Chelsea had for lunch three weeks ago. Things like that happen all the time. Chelsea does elaborate pranks too. She once sent out an email from someone else’s computer – I lock mine now – saying they came out of closet or they were pregnant. She went on Heather’s Twitter once and said she found out she had the Human Papillomavirus and everyone Tweeted her saying, ‘Thanks for being so open.’ So yes, those are real.
Watch: Hating on Chelsea:
Did the fight for the Cabo trip in episode one really happen?
Sarah: That has happened. Trips come up and people do lobby to get invited and she can only take so many. That was real.
Does Chelsea really meddle in everyone’s lives like we see on the show?
Sarah: She’s pretty involved. She’s surprisingly great to talk to. As much as she jokes around, she’s really insightful and has some great advice. But she’ll definitely tell you if you’re dating someone ridiculous.
No offense, but pot calling kettle: 50 Cent?
Sarah: No, they were just friends! They were just friends.
That’s what I thought, and then I believed otherwise.
Sarah: No. He’s a really nice guy and as far as I know they were just good friends and I think they still are.
Her mean streak is hilarious, but sometimes it seems to cross the line. Is “After Lately” scripting her meaner or what?
Heather: The way she talks to us on the show, on “After Lately,” is very accurate. But what you don’t see is she’s very sweet when you need something or just hanging out at dinner. We were even wondering if she would like the show because she comes off so awful. But it’s still funny. But, yeah, she is the bitchiest on the show by far.
Sarah: It’s all in good fun, of course. We can all take it and we all dish it out.
How was it working with Reese Witherspoon on last week’s episode?
Heather: She was really funny. She improv’ed some really funny lines too. We do a lot of improv. She is that kind of actress that probably knows every grip’s name.
Sarah: It was amazing that someone of her stature would come and do the show that hadn’t even aired yet. She was great…really funny.
You’ve got Tori Spelling and Dr. Drew coming up soon. Tell us about those episodes.
Heather: She really is funny too. She enjoys comedy. She totally sprang to it when they offered her the part. Of course, Chelsea’s made so much fun of her. The story is that Roy, Chelsea’s brother, might work for Tori. It’s a good one.
How about Dr. Drew?
Heather: In the episode, he runs an intervention for us. One of our staffers might be in trouble. We ask him a lot of questions about stuff and he’s really funny. He also answers you for sure. I asked if I could be addicted to cracking my own back. And he’s like, “Would you give up your loved ones to crack your back?” Uh, no. Okay, I get it.
If it were a real reality show, what would we really be seeing?
Sarah: You’d see a lot of slaphappy tired comics trying to one up each other and people lobbying for airtime. We also spend a lot of time making fun of each other and there’s a little bitchiness too, of course.
Heather: Chelsea really does like grabbing at people’s underwear and stuff when you’re standing there. One time, I had two hands full of food because I always take home food her brother makes, I’m sorry but I have a family to feed and I’m not gonna let leftovers go. And, she’s standing there with an electric toothbrush and she turned it on and took it to my, you know, pants, like a little vibrator situation. I didn’t know if I should drop the food or have a mini orgasm. It was awful. Maybe we’ll reenact that for season two.
What is one thing people don’t know about Chelsea?
Sarah: I think people would really love to see her dance. When she’s in a certain mood and will dance, which she can’t do well at all, it’s pretty funny to watch. Her really goofy side is there. There are definite moments of her being a complete goofball and that’s really fun to see.
Heather: She does have a sweet side. And, she’s such a generous performer. You often hear in a sitcom that the star doesn’t want anyone to be funnier than them. But she just never was like that. She wants the show to be the funniest.
“After Lately” airs Sunday at 11 p.m. ET/PT on E!