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Thursday 10 March 2011

Rihanna on Chelsea Lately: Sydney show

As soon as the announcement was made that visiting popstar Rihanna was to be the final guest at the Sydney tapings of the E! channel Chelsea Lately show, the excitement amongst fans (of both) has mounted.

And the fiery-haired one did not disappoint. As soon as the larger than life star - looking stunning in a black mini, patent beige pumps, and a smattering of divine gold jewellery - came on stage, the audience went slightly nuts. About as nuts as we went the moment host Chelsea Handler stepped onto the Foxtel TV stage.

With the audience made up of lucky ticket holders and media, every person there was a true fan, and it showed (I even spied gorgeous "gender illusionist" Courtney Act in the crowd - no mean feat; he's hard to recognise without the war paint).

We all know the regular "round table" comedians - including Josh Wolf, Brad Wollack, Heather McDonald, Sarah Colonna, and of course Chelsea's sidekick Chuy - and you'd think we'd spotted rockstars as they were intro'ed onto stage.

The workings of a live show are something to behold. I really enjoy watching the behind-the-scenes stuff: the switching of sets, the last minute touch-ups, the lighting tests.

With this show, there are no second takes... what happens is what you see broadcast later. Including all the inappropriate "whoop, whoop, whoop" - although the warm-up guy kinda encourages it. He tells us to "act like Americans" and cheer at anything. Even the inappropriate stuff. We comply, although need no coaxing when the cameras are rolling. (I am sure I'll be hearing my distinctly loud laugh when the show is broadcast on Friday on E!).

Between takes a Chelsea Lately production person trips over lighting and goes, er, "a over t." Chelsea tries to stifle her laughter, though is later thoughtfully checking in on her staffer. Onya Chels.

During the panel part of the show, Chelsea talks about her surprise at the "lack of black people in Australia" (later, her and Rihanna discuss it, and Rihanna admits her delight when she spots dark-skinned audience members at her Australian concerts). Chelsea is, however, rather surprised at our large contingent of Asian-heritaged folk. And to illustrate that she shows us footage of a taxi ride where she feels up a Asian cabbie... the crowd loves it.

The round table panel for this evening's show is made up of the hilarious Josh Wolf, the seriously funny Fortune Feimster, and repping the Australian guest is Adam Hills. Adam's jokes will no doubt create waves in gossip columns and on TV shows, hungry for controversial soundbytes. One joke involves cancer. That got a lot of boos ("Oh c'mon Australia; you don't like cancer jokes?" adds Chelsea, to lighten it up a bit). Hills adds a few more off-colour jokes, but the audience kinda expects un-PC.

It's what Chelsea has built a career on: taking pot shots at celebs; saying the stuff we are really thinking (like, just how many endorsements can the Kardashians really be involved in? And her disdain for Angelina). I don't know of anyone who can get away with so much. And yet she pulls it off superbly. In fact, she's the master at it.

After the show, fans (and media pretending to act cool but genuinely excited to be meeting show guests) hang about for autographs and pics. We don't expect to see Chelsea and definitely not Rihanna. But as fashion stylist Kelly Smythe leaves the corridors (who did she dress? The former or the latter? Both looked impeccable - Chelsea's shoes and dress were to-die-for) we leave with our Chelsea craving satisfied.

If you don't know what the fuss is about, where have you been?

Check out Chelsea Lately, Monday to Saturday at 10.30pm on E!, available on Foxtel, Austar, and Optus.

(Select photos: courtesy Rina Ferris).

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