It’s pretty incredible to look at the career of Ellen DeGeneres. What started as her being a standup comedian then shifted into her developing a groundbreaking comedy series in the late 90’s. She then pretty much lost it all, her show was canned, and she sort of drifted from the mainstream world for a couple of years.
Then she began her own talk show in 2003, and things haven’t been the same ever since. Now in its 16th year, Ellen has picked up the daytime torch that Oprah Winfrey left back in 2011 and has kept it brightly lit ever since with her super inviting personality, charisma, humor and kindness.
Ellen decided to do her first standup comedy special in years on Netflix called Relatable which was released on the popular streaming service Tuesday. As a fan, I went into it thinking this could go two ways: it could be the usual chatter we get from her on her daily talk show or she could go no holds barred and really go the distance with the kind of humor I know she has.
Surprisingly it was a bit of both, much to my delight. The concept around the title of the special has to do with how Ellen is still relatable to the everyday normal person even though her life is on a much higher level… especially from a financial level which she pokes fun at in the beginning of the show.
There are bits that she discusses which people can relate to, however she has special circumstances given that she’s been a beloved household name for the better part of the millennium. Her discussion about always having to be kind is brought up, which can be frustrating for her as she’s kind of pigeon holed into always being a nice person without ever expressing real human emotions in public. Like how if she honks at someone else, and they recognize its her, they will then start dancing just like she did on her show for many years.
She brings up the dancing thing as something that was an idea at first and it just caught on. Ellen admits to not being a good dancer, even though she does a hilarious rendition of Juvenile’s “Back That Ass Up” towards the end of the special. To me it seems as if her dancing was something she never really wanted to do in the first place, but it may have helped the show get off the ground and have the audience see her as someone fun and inviting and not just that lesbian from that ABC sitcom that was canceled.
Ellen’s energy on stage is similar to what she brings on her talk show (which she may not renew after 2020 per the interview she just did with The New York Times). It’s fascinating that this larger than life person can appear so regular and so down to earth even though she’s been able to elevate her career to places many of us can only dream of.
The shift in how people see her has changed dramatically since she came out on her comedy series twenty years ago. She went from having to defend herself vigorously against millions of homophobes to essentially changing the way daytime television is, all because people found something in her that was… relatable.
If you got an hour, watch her special. It’s great, simple, makes you laugh… just like her talk show does.
This post was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.