Longtime comedian Ellen DeGeneres apparently used an interesting prop for her very first stand-up routine: a Burger King meal.
The popular talk show host opened up about her first on-stage experience as a stand-up comic in a recent episode of Oprah Winfrey’s hit show Master Class.
Ellen claims that her friends at the time encouraged her to get on stage at a fundraising event to “do something funny” since they believed that she would be a good fit even though she had no experience as a stand-up comedian.
Keep in mind that she did not have any material prepared since it was more of an impromptu performance, but Ellen decided to take a creative swing at it anyway.
She reportedly brought a Whopper, fries, and a milkshake on stage along with her — a unique prop that would apparently become a core element of her performance that night.
“I said, ‘This is my first time being on stage, and I have to admit I’m a little nervous. I didn’t know what I was going to say, and I realized I hadn’t eaten all day, so I hope you don’t mind, I stopped and grabbed something to eat on the way.’ Then I would say, ‘But what I wanted to talk about was…’ and then I would take a bite. While I was chewing, I’d put a finger up and just go, ‘Oh, that is good. That’s better.’ Then I would start the sentence again.”
Ellen DeGeneres was able to extend that bit throughout the entire set. Even though she was not able to complete a full sentence or thought, she did manage to finish her entire meal on stage while getting laughs from the audience.
At the time, there was not a comedy club in New Orleans. However, Ellen’s Burger King meal evidently opened up a new door of opportunity for her as a stand-up comedian when she was asked to perform at a coffeehouse.
Instead of buying another burger combo, the award-winning star decided to put her creative spin on a musical performance.
“I played a song on piano that I said I wrote when I was in the hospital, and it was just me screaming and hitting some chords.”
After some time had passed, a comedy club finally opened up in New Orleans, and Ellen DeGeneres was hired to host and serve as the emcee for each show.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, quite a few popular stand-up comedians were able to transform their routines into sitcoms, including Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, and Ray Romano.
Ellen DeGeneres was even able to add herself to the list with her own sitcom, Ellen, which aired 108 episodes and lasted five seasons.
However, in an April 2002 interview with The Comedy Couch, Ellen stated that having her own show was never a goal when she first started her career in stand-up.
“I started out before all the that started happening. Somewhere in the middle when I was doing that, all of a sudden Roseanne got a show and somebody else got a show that I knew that was a stand-up, and then I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a possibility’… When I first started doing stand-up…I had so many different jobs… I didn’t know I was going to be a comedian. I didn’t know that was even an option. I thought being funny was just a personality trait. I didn’t think it was a career option.”
After spending decades as a stand-up comedian and actress, Ellen DeGeneres embarked on a new career: daytime talk show host.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show first launched in September of 2003. It was nominated for 11 Daytime Emmy Awards in its first season and won four, including Best Talk Show.
In the 12 years that have passed since it first aired, Ellen’s talk show has earned even more awards and appreciation from fans and critics alike.
Ellen DeGeneres’ career has definitely come a long way since she first ate a Burger King meal on stage with hopes of getting a few laughs from the audience.
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