Serbia: Demanding Apology From Comedian Chelsea Handler

Nearly 44,000 Serbs have joined the Facebook group ‘Boycott of Chelsea Handler until she apologizes to the Serbian people‘, demanding an apology from the popular American female comedian for the offensive remarks she made about the Serbian nation during her show Chelsea Lately, aired on June 20, 2011.

The Facebook page explains that Handler “ruthlessly attacked Serbia and its people” for some three minutes with guests Chris Franjola, Natasha Leggero and Greg Proops. The comedian began by talking about Amy Winehouse‘s intoxicated performance in Belgrade on June 18, and, irritated by the fact that no one had even tried to stop the singer from appearing on the stage, she attacked the whole Serbian nation.

Facebook group ‘Boycott of Chelsea Handler until she apologizes to the Serbian people‘

Facebook group ‘Boycott of Chelsea Handler until she apologizes to the Serbian people‘

Commenting on the fact that as many as 20,000 Serbian fans paid 40 euros for their tickets to enjoy Amy Winehouse's performance, Handler said:

I can’t believe they even allow Serbians to go to concerts. I didn’t even know that was going on over there…

One of the show's guests, Greg Proops, chimed in, while another one laughed uncontrollably:

They’re calling it a disaster in Serbia. This is a place they’ve had ethnic cleansing and genocide. Her concert was a bigger bummer than that… […] After Serbia, where was she going, like Kazakistan [sic] or something?

One of the crucial reason for such a furious Serbian reaction was Handler's insult to Serbia's Minister of Defence Dragan Šutanovac, after a comment he had posted on his Facebook page, noting that “Amy Winehouse's concert was a shame and a huge disappointment” – to which Handler's response was:

Well, so is your country.

Šutanovac, who has some 5,000 friends on Facebook, replied:

Dear friends, the show of “comedian” Chelsea made me react the same way as you did! Not funny, arrogant, shallow, mean… Only those who do not know anything about us, or want to insult us and draw our attention and anger, can make such comments about a country and its people! Having in mind that it is a show with fake applause of paid audience and comments from people who, to their disadvantage, are not even aware how little they know about Serbia, I did not want to react in a way that is expected from “uncivilized” Serbs! The whole idea was to irritate us and make us react exactly the way we were described, but I am not going to help them with it, on the contrary! Heads up, let’s go on, since they do not know who were Tesla, Pupin, Milankovic… Novak Djoković will teach them!

Marija Rajic [sr] comments sadly:

It is so miserable to compare us to criminals. I watched the series “Criminal Minds” and in one episode they saying that we have committed ethnic cleansing, and from that chaos were created mass murderers that kill in America…

James Sullivan wrote:

Chelsea Handler isn't going to apologize. Look at her past behavior. She's often stated that she dislikes minorities (people who aren't white). Many of her comments attack entire groups of people based on their ethnic and racial heritage and not because they said or did anything wrong. She also appears to dislike Eastern Europeans (Russians and Serbs). She's basically an unrepetant racist.

Richard Alan Koons Jr concluded:

I think its going a little far, first off she's protected by the first amendment which entitles her to freedom of speech, even if it's involving racism. I love Serbian people, and when I was in Europe they treated me like a king, it was offensive to even me when she said those things. Serbs are not bad people, but its a waste of time to be honest.

Sergej Nesic wrote:

I don't understand why those people paid all that money to see that junky loser [Amy Winehouse]. For that money they could've had a great night out in Belgrade. […]

In addition to the Facebook page, Jelena Ajdarević launched an online petition also in an effort to draw attention to Handler’s remarks; so far, there are over 20,000 signatures there.

Handler's show has triggered a diplomatic reaction of the Serbian Embassy in the United States, which sent a protest letter to NBC Universal. In his letter, the Serbian Ambassador Vladmir Petrovic wrote:

[…] We urge Handler and her producers to revisit her list of “topics that cross the line” and add her slurs against Serbia and its people to it. We also urge her to think of causes dear to her heart, such as equality. Her superior tone and statements run afoul of her honorable efforts towards achieving true equality – be it between individuals, communities, or nations. […]

Handler has so far ignored the Serbian Facebook demand for apology, but Proops did apologize through Twitter:

Dear Serbs, they were jokes. Please accept my apology. I am well and truly sorry. Hvala.

While Serbians are demanding an apology from Handler, none of them mentions the fact that the Serbian comedy group ‘Kursadžije‘ has for years been insulting other Balkan nations with whom Serbia was at war during the 1990s. The group's enormous popularity shows that many Serbs do enjoy this kind of tasteless humor, as long as it is not directed at themselves.


  • […] Serbia: Demanding Apology From Comedian Chelsea HandlerGlobal Voices OnlineThe comedian began by talking about Amy Winehouse's intoxicated performance in Belgrade on June 18, and, irritated by the fact that no one had even tried to stop the singer from appearing on the stage, she attacked the whole Serbian nation. … […]

  • Bojan

    “Kursadzije” doesn’t attack other ethnicities ruthlessly, it’s based on funny stereotypes. Not racism. And everyone gets made fun of, Serbs, Bosnians, Croatians, etc. At least speak on facts instead of coming off as an uneducated moron.

    • bora

      Don’t speak Serbo-Croatian and don’t know anything about Serbian comedians but when I look at what both of you have posted here, I’d trust him way more than a name calling angry person.

      Great post, thanks Sasa.

  • Milan Vidović

    We are actually wasting our precious time talking about and discussing any insults that this uneducated individual and so-called entertainer had a chance to serve to our Media and viewers about Serbia and the Serbs.
    Handler is nothing but a loud-mouth wanna-be comedian that tries with insults to entertain uneducated crowd and spread some ridiculous insults about Serbia.
    Serbs never made fun of her abortion when she was 16, her multiple unsuccesful auditions in Los Angeles after she arrived from Jersey, one episode long engagement on the show “On the loft” when she was easily replaced, yes after ONE episode by younger and better-looking Adrianna Costa. She is so uneducated and narrow that is extremely difficult taking any of her statements seriously when she doesn’t even believe in herself, saying “I smelled the disaster happening before it did” about her short, one
    episode long engagement on the show “On the lot”.
    I feel sorry for her career, for her family and friends she’s surrounded with, I feel bad for supporters of her pro-white, anti-minorities agenda that is just pure ridiculous and unacceptable. We should forget her insults towards serbian people as they are as important
    as her career to the rest of the educated audience.
    Boycott Chelsea and her ridiculous anti-minorities propaganda!!!


    • Vera

      Just to share with you that I am sad because of the thinks that happened in Norway and because the Amy Winehouse’s death. I am also soo mad with US comedians who were laughing both at her last concert in Belgrade and at Serbia, and I am not the only one here who find them partly responsible for she finished in a suicide-like way. I know that American comedians are not witty enough, that they than compensate lack of genuine sense for humor by being rough, but this was really too irresponsible! And towards Serbia, who struggles with the depths of 90s, with still fragile public attitude towards NATO countries that did bombing, particularly US and UK. Me, and my friends are the ones who struggle to fight against prejudices to America after painful and not digested enough ’99 bombing experience, with Libya and some other countries following as a “prove” to those who think… And, Serbia today should be supported to overcome Milosevic’s Serbia of ‘90s, but this move is not helping at all!

  • Shin Sekai

    Well actually “Kursadzije” are directed to Serbs as well. There is a Serb character and he is made fun of as much as everyone else. Its a low form of humor, and I don’t like watching it, but as for the statement that Serbs like to make fun of others, but can’t take jokes at their own expense is untrue. There are shows like this all over the former Yugoslavia as well. So, not only limited to Serbs. Its a form of local humor.

  • Rocco

    This last paragraph is totally uncalled for and irrelevant.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.