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How Chelsea Handler and Jo Koy's decadelong friendship turned into love

The host and comedian shares the story behind how an old friend became the love of her life on the latest episode of “Dear Chelsea.”
/ Source: TODAY

It’s been less than two weeks since fellow comedians Chelsea Handler and Jo Koy made their romance Instagram official, but while the news is still fresh, it’s a relationship has been in the works for a long time.

As fans of Handler’s mid-aughts talk show, “Chelsea Lately,” know, Koy was a familiar face on the series and served as panelist who played off the host’s humor. The chemistry between the pair was undeniable.

Chelsea Handler,  Jo Koy
Handler shared the sweet story behind how she found love with fellow comedian Jo Koy on her podcast "Dear Chelsea." Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

The type of chemistry, however, was up for debate, which is an aspect of their love story that the 46-year-old funnywoman and her 50-year-old beau focused on in the season two premiere of her podcast, “Dear Chelsea.”

“You thought that chemistry was sexual, and I thought it was comedic," Handler said.

But even that was a point of disagreement as Koy interrupted her to note, “Never did I ever say that! ... That’s not how it went down."

That’s the tricky part about their love story — they don’t agree about how the story goes.

“What makes me sad is that you don’t remember any of the things I remember,” Koy told her. “In my head, it’s such a beautiful story. And when I finish telling it, you go, ‘Really? That happened?”

They both agree that their friendship blossomed on the set of “Chelsea Lately,” but she remembers him crushing on her and recalls it being the other way around. They both conceded that she was playfully mean to him during their on-air banter.

But looking back now, she added, “I can see that it was abusive in a schoolyard playground kind of way.”

“Kind of like when the girl has a crush on the guy?” he mused.

Chelsea Handler,  Jo Koy
Chelsea Handler and Jo Koy attend the game between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 28, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Eventually they moved past the who-liked-whom argument and focused on what they can agree on — that these days everything about their love is mutual, and that’s something Handler wasn’t so sure she’d ever find. It's also something that she hopes will inspire others.

“I just want women to understand, like, if I fell in love with somebody and I feel this way, so excited and committed and devoted, then I really do believe there is a lid for every pot,” she explained.

And although she admitted, “That’s not the most romantic way to frame it,” she added that her relationship with Koy is proof that you need to “make sure you’re keeping your eyes open” for people already in your life. If she hadn’t done that, she might still view Koy with the same “brother energy” she once did, because he reminded her so much of her late brother Chet, who passed away in 1984, and she felt so safe around him.

"I was just not in touch with myself to understand,” she now realizes. “I knew I liked talking with you and having you in my life because you're positive and upbeat. It's infectious, and I loved all of that. But I wasn't like, oh my God, this desire to have something happen.”

In fact, there came a point where the friends rarely saw each other, but during quarantine that changed when he asked her to pen an intro for his book, “Mixed Plate.” Then they were back in each other’s orbit.

Chelsea Handler,  Jo Koy
They look in love!Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

“It went from lunch to lunch and coffee, then lunch, coffee and ‘What are we having for dinner?’” Koy said. “And then from lunch, coffee, dinner to ‘Let’s have a drink.’”

And before they knew it, that all led to love.