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Ellen DeGeneres Opens Up About Her Former Girlfriend’s Death, Criticism, And More On Dax Shepard’s Podcast

The daytime television host opens up to Dax Shepard for his Armchair Expert podcast…
 
Earlier this week Ellen DeGeneres was a guest on Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert, where she discussed some of the highs and lows of her length career.
 
Here are a few candid highlights from Ellen and Dax’s conversation:
 
On the death of her former girlfriend, who was killed in a car accident when she was 20:
“I was living with her, and when she was killed, I couldn’t afford to live where we were living together. So, I moved into this tiny little basement apartment that I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor infested with fleas. I thought, ‘Why is this beautiful, 21-year-old girl gone and fleas are here? And I just thought it would be amazing if we could pick up the phone and call up God and ask questions and actually get an answer.”
 
*This moment inspired “Phone Call to God,” the stand-up set she performed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1986. DeGeneres made history as the only woman in the show’s history to get “asked to the couch,” which kickstarted her career.
 

Ellen on her early stand-up days:
“I was by myself. It’s not like I had friends I could afford to put up with me. I wasn’t flying private. I was flying commercial all the time and changing planes. I hate flying. I get anxiety when I fly so I couldn’t wait to stop touring.”
 
Ellen on her TV show being cancelled after she publicly came out:
“[It ended] because I came out. This is a long story, but they really didn’t want me to come out. I wanted to come out. I said, ‘It’s my life. I want to come out. I want the character to come out. It’s the time.’ I said, ‘I’m going to lose the career. Like, you can just put another show on. It’s my show to lose.’ Even though it wasn’t my show. They finally let me come out and it was a huge success the night of. It was celebrated…Then, they just stopped promoting it because they were scared.”
 
Ellen on Elton John’s criticism of her during her coming out:
“During the time, because there was so much talk about it, everyone was just sick of it. I had only done the cover of Time magazine, a primetime special with Diane Sawyer and Oprah — those were the only three places I talked — people were reporting on reports and reports. Even Elton John said, ‘Shut up already. We know you’re gay. Be funny.’ I had never met him and I thought, ‘What kind of support is that from a gay person?'”
 
Ellen on those late-night jokes:
“Everybody assumed I was just nonstop talking about it. It hurt my feelings. I was getting jokes made at my expense on every late-night show. People were making fun of me. I was really depressed. And because of that, and because my show was cancelled, I was looked at as a failure in this business. No one would touch me. I had no agent, no possibility of a job, I had nothing.”
 
Ellen on the criticism she received from the LGBT community:
“Some people thought, ‘You’re not gay enough and you’re not doing enough for our community and there are so many that have done more.’ I didn’t say I was your leader and I didn’t say I have done more…I just want to be a comedian and I just happen to be gay. Of course, I’m going to speak up. I think I’m doing a lot just by being a physical presence of hopefully a representation, not of the entire gay community, but of someone at home going, ‘There’s someone who’s gay.’ It was really tough.”
 
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