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Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler. Photo courtesy of the artist

Chelsea Handler has figured out a few things about herself thanks to a year of therapy, and she shares the results on her “Life Will Be the Death of Me” book tour that came to the Pageant on Friday night.

Donald Trump’s presidential win in 2016 had a deep effect on the comedian, igniting rage and guilt over white privilege and putting her in a dark place.

At one point during the near-90-minute show, she held an orange and said, “I have had a huge problem with the color and the fruit since the election.”

Handler sought out therapy to help her cope, figuring paying $100 an hour to talk about it “seemed like exactly the right move.” It helped her harness her anger and learn to forgive. It also made her less argumentative.

This doesn’t all sound like comedic gold. It definitely wasn’t much like her 2014 stand-up show at Scottrade (now Enterprise) Center, a hilarious and often tasteless act centered on her trip to Uganda. Hopefully, her fans knew they would be getting something different and less shocking this go-round — probably the most introspective Handler ever.

She said she hadn’t done stand-up or written a book in years because she had nothing to say. But the election changed that, forcing her into a psychiatrist’s office, where she realized she had the right to be in pain.

But Handler was still going for the laughs, including a bit about sitting next to an unseemly Trump supporter on an airplane, and quick nods to Kellyanne Conway, Ivanka Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. This wasn’t Kathy Griffin’s onstage takedown of the administration.

All smiles as she bounced onto the stage carrying a stool over her head, she started the set with some business of St. Louis’ “disgusting weather” and wanting to go to “the Arches,” then figuring out that was McDonald’s, before crediting our beautiful city. She could feel the vibe here, she said.

Handler jumped in and out of readings from her book, preferring instead to just talk to the crowd about her therapy, meditation and her newfound preference of cannabis over pills and alcohol. (There was a story about administering medication properly; don’t ask where she mistakenly put it.)

She also riffed on her reaction to finding out “Call Me By Your Name” was a gay-themed love story, her disdain for room-temperature water, her love for Robert Mueller, and her relationship with a 26-year-old. Much of it was humorous, if not in a gut-busting way.

Curiously, Handler is excited about the prospect of dying, feeling exhausted and ready for whatever comes next.

By show’s end, she was back to reading from her book, as she realized “I define me.” She is who she is, and that’s how it’s going to be.