Ellen DeGeneres Says She Got Kicked Out of Show Business

How many times can one comedian get canceled?
Ellen DeGeneres Says She Got Kicked Out of Show Business

After several years in comedy hibernation, Ellen DeGeneres is back doing stand-up. And a lot of her new material is about what she considers her exile from show business. It all happened in the wake of BuzzFeed reports that The Ellen Degeneres Show producers were guilty of alleged racism, sexual misconduct and intimidation in the workplace. People were fired and ultimately the show was kicked to the curb.

“I used to say that I didn’t care what other people thought of me and I realized … I said that at the height of my popularity,” Ellen remarked on the first night of her Ellen’s Last Stand… Up Touras reported by Rolling Stone. (The line got a big laugh.) Clearly, she’s no longer at the pinnacle. “What else can I tell you? Oh yeah, I got kicked out of show business. There’s no mean people in show business.”

The comedian who became famous for dancing on her show seemed to dance between a mea culpa and defensiveness in her routine. “The ‘be kind’ girl wasn’t kind,” she said. “I became this one-dimensional character who gave stuff away and danced up steps. Do you know how hard it is to dance up steps? Would a mean person dance up steps? Had I ended my show by saying, ‘Go fuck yourself,’ people would’ve been pleasantly surprised.”

She admits that she had no clue how to be a boss with self-deprecating punchlines that could also be read as deflecting responsibility. “I didn’t go to business school. I went to Charlie’s Chuckle Hutt,” she joked. “The show was called Ellen and everybody was wearing T-shirts that said ‘Ellen’ and there were buildings on the Warner Brothers lot that said ‘Ellen,’ but I don’t know that that meant I should be in charge.”

Some of the criticism levied against her, she seemed to imply, was because she was a woman, noting that “there are consequences” for not conforming to traditional gender roles. She punctuated that point with a variation on the old chicken joke: “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because she wanted to and you wouldn’t ask a rooster that.”

You’re either on top or kicked to the bottom, she says in her new stand-up. “I danced, then I was mean and they didn’t like me again,” she said. “It’s been such a toll on my ego and my self-esteem. There’s such extremes in this business, people either love you and idolize you or they hate you, and those people somehow are louder.”

Degeneres figures that she’s been canceled twice now, first for coming out on her 1990s sitcom and then again after America determined she was a mean boss. “Eventually they’re going to kick me out for a third time,” she joked, “because I’m mean, old, and gay.”


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