Ellen DeGeneres Promises to Address Bad Boss Scandal in Final Stand-Up Special

Expect half-apologies and excuses
Ellen DeGeneres Promises to Address Bad Boss Scandal in Final Stand-Up Special

Ellen DeGeneres has mostly gone dark since BuzzFeed dropped two reports about bad behavior on her titular talk show in 2020. Among the allegations that led to the show’s demise: 

  • Managers instructing employees not to speak to DeGeneres
  • Employees being fired after taking bereavement days to attend family funerals
  • Another employee quitting after tiring of comments about her race 

More generally, employees complained that the comedian was disengaged from her own show and allowed producers to create a toxic work environment. The Ellen DeGeneres Show, built on a mantra of “be kind,” couldn’t withstand the blow to its reputation and the dancing comic ended the program in 2022 after a nearly 20-year run.

Now DeGeneres is prepping her “final” (we’ll see) Netflix stand-up special to air later this year. What’s on the joke menu? “To answer the questions everyone is asking me — Yes, I’m going to talk about it,” DeGeneres said in a press release. “Yes, this is my last special. Yes, Portia really is that pretty in real life.”

Based on a Rolling Stone report from the soft launch of her Ellen’s Last Stand… Up Tour last month, don’t expect a lot of apologies when she “talks about it.” She admitted that “the ‘be kind’ girl wasn’t kind,” but also offered up plenty of defensiveness with jokes that implied being a woman was the reason she didn’t get away with bad behavior. (Both things can be true, by the way — a man might have gotten away with worse and Ellen was in charge of a shitty work environment.) DeGeneres also did her share of wallowing in victimhood: “I got kicked out of show business. There’s no mean people in show business.”

That’s in line with an interview she did on Today back in 2021, simultaneously owning up to lousy behavior while shifting the blame elsewhere. “I have to be the one to stand up and say this can't be tolerated,” she admitted. But all of her staff’s allegations were “too orchestrated, it was too coordinated,” implying a hit job. She puzzled how her show could be home to a toxic work environment “when all I’ve ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is and what a happy place this is.”

Netflix was all too happy to provide happy talk as well, with Robbie Praw, VP of Stand-up and Comedy Formats, proving once again that he’s never met a controversial comic he didn’t want to stream. “There is nobody quite like Ellen,” he gushes in stilted press-release-speak. “She is a true legend and pioneer in so many ways. We can’t wait to bring fans another one of her hilarious comedy specials later this year.” 

Again, expect nothing but half-apologies and excuses. 


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