Ellen DeGeneres laments getting 'kicked out of show business' in new standup routine

Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres is returning to the stage nearly two years after her talk show came to an end, and it's clear that she's not happy about how it all went down.

"Oh yeah, I got kicked out of show business," she told an audience during her stand-up show at the Largo in Los Angeles this week, according to Rolling Stone. "There's no mean people in show business."

Back in 2020, accusations that The Ellen DeGeneres Show was a toxic work environment made headlines. A BuzzFeed article featured 11 people who worked on the show anonymously, providing details about "racism, fear, and intimidation" on the job. However, they largely placed the blame on her executive producers.

Still, the idea that working for DeGeneres wasn't a positive experience didn't surprise a lot of people. The same year, a Twitter thread from comedian Kevin T. Porter referred to the host as "notoriously one of the meanest people alive" and called for people to share the stories they had heard over the years.

When everything blew up, DeGeneres seemed (or at least acted) surprised by the accusations. She apologized to her staff, and three of her executive producers were let go of the show following an internal investigation. Cynics suggested this was a last-minute attempt to save face regarding backlash that had been quietly brewing behind the scenes for years.

The show only lasted another two years before ending in May 2022, with DeGeneres stepping away from the spotlight ever since. As she noted during her stand-up routine this week, it's not the first time she's faced public backlash in her career, notably losing her sitcom and her rising star after coming out as a lesbian in 1997.

"For those of you keeping score, this is the second time I've been kicked out of show business," she joked. "Eventually they're going to kick me out for a third time because I'm mean, old, and gay."

During a post-show Q&A with the audience, DeGeneres acknowledged that the two situations were completely different. Although, it seems like she's having a harder time figuring out how to deal with the fallout of the loss of her talk show.

"This was like, 'What is going on?' It was so hurtful. I couldn't gain perspective. I couldn't do anything to make myself understand that it wasn't personal," she said. "I just thought, 'Well this is not the way I wanted to end my career, but this is the way it's ending.'"

She told the audience that her current routine will ultimately be recorded for a Netflix special this fall, so calling the loss of her talk show the end of her career seems premature. But it has undoubtedly impacted her reputation — there's really no way the comedian could even put together a comedy routine right now without acknowledging what happened. What subsequent impact the way DeGeneres is choosing to discuss it has, if any, remains to be seen.

"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," she told the crowd, "and those people somehow are louder."