Way back when, there were few signs of stand-up comedy stature more obvious than an HBO special. George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres, and many more all crossed the stage at the premium network, often multiple times, and often as a sign that they were ascending from “regular star” to “certified superstar” in the process. The status of the HBO special has diminished in recent years, though—in no small part due to the rise of Netflix, which has taken upon itself the role of comedy kingmaker with its series of big-budget stand-up sets. But now one of the streaming service’s long-time affiliates is jumping ship for the old country. At least, sort of: Deadline reports that comedian Chelsea Handler has just signed on for a stand-up special (her first in six years), at HBO…Max.
Handler has long been associated with the Netflix brand; not only does she have a special on the service—2014's Uganda Be Kidding Me: Live—but also numerous documentaries, TV shows, and even one of the company’s first forays into timely content, the daily talk show Chelsea. But on the other hand: Hey, HBO!
The special will mark Handler’s return to stand-up after taking several years off, during which she wrote and promoted a memoir, Life Will Be The Death Of Me, and produced a Netflix project, Hello, Privilege, It’s Me, Chelsea. She made a statement today about the special, noting that, “I didn’t want to return to stand-up until I had something important to say. I do now. I’m absolutely delighted to be doing this with HBO Max. I’m always excited to be reunited with [WarnerMedia chairman] Bob Greenblatt.” She then added, presumably because she was physically unable not to, that Greenblatt is “one of the only executives I can never have sex with,” alluding (we hope) to his status as TV’s first openly gay network president.