Daytime-TV staple takes the stage in stand-up special on Netflix
Ellen DeGeneres is keeping her day job — for the time being, anyway — but she’s also servicing her love of traditional stand-up comedy for the first time in a while.
One of today’s most popular talk-show hosts, the winner of 30 Emmy Awards and a record-setting 20 People’s Choice Awards did stand-up specials for HBO, but the last of those was 15 years ago. Under her new deal with Netflix, she makes her return to that performance format with “Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable,” which the streaming service debuts Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Fellow comedy star Tig Notaro was one of the directors of the recorded-in-Seattle special, along with variety-show veteran Joel Gallen. “It was interesting,” the ever-friendly DeGeneres reflects, “because right up until I said I would do it, I really had no intention of ever doing stand-up again. I did it for so long, it just was something that I felt burned-out on, and I was ready for a new gear. I wanted to do something different.
“The talk show has been great,” notes DeGeneres, ”but I want to challenge myself, so I’ll go and host the Oscars (which she did in 2006 and 2013). As much as I love the (weekday) show, it’s so comfortable for me, nothing scares me about it … and I just like to stay creative. That’s really who I am at heart, a stand-up performer, and writing is everything to me.”
DeGeneres confirms that “Relatable” turned out to be what she “wanted it to be. I wanted to top everything else I had done. I don’t want to be the same as I was, and I certainly don’t want to be not as good as I was, so it was a lot of pressure. I didn’t have any subjects in mind; I hadn’t been writing, and I didn’t know what I was going to write about, then the beginning of the special hit me.
“It’s the first five or 10 minutes, and it just came to me. I wrote that down, then I knew it was going to be called ‘Relatable,’ and it started flowing, I’d go up on stage and be thrilled that I had 20 minutes (of material), then I’d go up again and walk off with 24 minutes. And then, I’d have 31 minutes. It was just getting to an hour, and then I got to 1:20. That was the challenge, having really strong material the whole time.”
Now that “Relatable” has been completed, DeGeneres – who also starts a new season of NBC’s “Ellen’s Game of Games” next month — says she’s “really proud” of the result. “I like it a whole lot, and everyone I’ve shown it to is really excited about it, too.”