Ellen DeGeneres is stepping back to the world of stand-up comedy for the first time in 15 years!
The beloved TV host sat down with Jimmy Kimmel on Monday, dishing on her new Netflix special, Relatable, DeGeneres’ first foray back into the medium that made her famous in the first place — a style of performing that the 60-year-old star said she’d been glad to move past when she first hung up her mic.
“I was done with it, you know? I did it for like 20 years,” DeGeneres shared with Kimmel. “I used to joke, when I was touring, ‘Someday, you’ll all come to me.’ And now they do. So I just stopped going out.”
“It was my life for 20 years, and it was touring, and it was really hard because it was the beginning, and no one knows who you are. So when I was done with it, I was done,” she continued. “And then it had been 15 years and I decided I miss it and [thought] it would be a challenge to do another one, and I just decided to start writing. And I’m really happy with it.”
According to the celebrated entertainer and longtime TV personality, her goal with Relatable was to introduce her fans to a new side of her personality, and she wanted the special to reflect “a different me.”
“People know me from my talk show but they don’t — I mean, a lot of people know that I did stand up, but I’ve been on the air for 16 years, and [some people] just know my talk show,” she explained. “I wanted them to know that I did something different.”
Reflecting on her humble beginnings as a stand-up comic in Louisiana in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including the time she was named “Funniest Person in America.”
“I had 10 minutes of material and I became [known as] The Funniest Person in America. It was a contest that Showtime held, and I won,” DeGeneres recalled of the cable network’s 1984 comedy competition. “I became The Funniest person in America, which is the worst title for anyone ever, much less when you’re starting out and have nothing.”
“I would be [playing] at a strip mall, next to a yogurt shop, and they would use that title,” DeGeneres explained. “So people eating their yogurt would go, ‘Oh my god! The funniest person in America is here.’ And they would walk in and go,’Eh, she’s funny but, like, Robin Williams is funny.’ It was horrible.”
The comedian’s career took off in 1994 with the debut of her wildly popular sitcom Ellen, based on material from her stand-up routines, and many began referring to her as the “female Seinfeld.” After the sitcom came to an end in 1998, she developed a number of other shows before kicking off with her beloved talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2003, which she’s been doing ever since.
However, with her new stand-up special, DeGeneres says she’s trying to present something that is more than just a comedy routine, and instead speaks to a universal idea that she holds to be true.
“It’s called Relatable because I believe everyone is relatable, no matter if our lives are different, but I get to kind of peel back the curtain,” she shared. “It’s a funny special, but it’s also meaningful. Like, I share things that happened in my life and things that changed my life, and what I believe that we all are — which is relatable.”
One thing that might not be relatable to everyone are the perks that come along with being a household star — such as getting out of speeding tickets.
DeGeneres admitted that sometimes, she likes to get behind the wheel and put the pedal to the metal, and it’s almost gotten her in trouble a few times. Almost.
“I drive a little bit above the suggested limit, because some of them are so low. Some of them are like 30 miles an hour, and that’s like, really? I was going like 35 on my way to work the other day, and this motorcycle cop was hidden… and he pulled me over,” DeGeneres shared.
“He walked up and said, ‘I’m pulling you over because you’re going 35 in a 30,’ and then he kinda looked at me like he thought it might be me,” she said, adding that things changed pretty quickly when she handed him her driver’s license. “He goes, ‘You do a lot a good for the world, so here just take it back.’ It was weird.”
And that wasn’t the only time she “lucked” out.
“I got pulled over for speeding and that time I was going fast,” DeGeneres said. “I pulled over and he walks up to the side and I had the window down and he goes, “Listen I — Oh! My wife loves you!'”
“I was like, ‘Oh good! You want to get a selfie?'” she continued, laughing. “So we took a selfie. Sometimes it helps when you’re [famous].”
“That’s a pretty good deal,” Kimmel chimed in. “There’s a lot of negatives to people recognizing you all the time. But when you get pulled over, that’s when it’s not a negative anymore.”
Relatable debuts on Netflix on Dec. 18.