DeGeneres is known for her generosity, so it is no wonder she has elevated gift-giving to an art form. She always knows the exact gift to give someone to overwhelm them with joy. Two of our favorite examples? In January of 2013, when she invited sloth-loving actress Kristen Bell to feed bananas to a sloth named Lola, and earlier this year when she hunted down wife Portia de Rossi's dream car and surprised her with it. DeGeneres makes bigger dreams come true, too, like when she brought her long-time fan Talia Castellano — who passed away from cancer last year after a long battle — to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
In 1997, DeGeneres made the brave decision to come out through her title character on the sitcom Ellen. The moment was genuine, yet still filled with DeGeneres's trademark humor. Although the episode — and DeGeneres's announcement — was initially met with applause, public backlash soon began. In an interview with Allure magazine in 2005, she spoke candidly of the time, saying, "That's why it killed me so much when I came out. All I wanted to do was make people laugh. That, in turn, gave me so much joy. Then when I decided to be honest with people, it was somehow taken away for a while." Undeterred, DeGeneres continued to be her authentic self, choosing to speak openly about her sexuality and, perhaps more importantly, let the way she lives her life speak for her. Today, DeGeneres and de Rossi's sweet, loving relationship is a mainstay on The Ellen DeGeneres Show — which tellingly has won a whopping 36 Daytime Emmy awards.
We dare you to watch any episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show and not be reduced to a fit of laughter at least once (but more likely tons of times). Or have you seen her 2009 speech to the graduating class at Tulane University? In full disclosure, it makes us wish we could zip back in time and do our undergrad there so that we could have listened to that hilarious advice in person. She's heralded as one of the funniest people on the planet and, while that may seem hyperbolic, we don't think it is stretching the truth at all when it comes to DeGeneres.
This is an important one, because funny people are a dime a dozen. OK, not as funny as DeGeneres, but our point is this: DeGeneres doesn't take the cheap and easy route when it comes to humor. She's obscenely funny without actually being obscene. "I mean, if you put 'f***' in front of anything, an audience is going to laugh. You know? It just — it's easy. And I like a challenge," she told NBC. DeGeneres is the stuff the expression "good, clean humor" is made of.
Taking shots at other people might be good for a laugh or two, and it certainly doesn't require an excessive amount of forethought. Heck, some comedians have built their career around making fun of others. For DeGeneres, though, a punchline is never worth hurting someone. "The most important thing for me is to know that I represent kindness," she explained to Good Housekeeping of her 'nice' brand of humor. "I'm glad I'm funny. I'm glad I make people happy, because that's very important. But I'm proud to be known as a kind person."
DeGeneres has done so much for the LGBTQ community that people often overlook the barriers she has broken for women in general. In 1986, when she was invited to sit on the couch with iconic comedian Johnny Carson, she was the first female comedian ever to do so. "It was a big deal, because he'd only done that, at the time, with a few men in the history of the show," she told Entertainment Weekly of being on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. When she hosted the Oscars in 2007, it made her the first openly gay person and only the second solo woman to M.C. the awards. In a time when the presence of women is so sorely lacking in the comedy arena, we hope the example DeGeneres has set will inspire more women to flex their comic chops — and, ultimately, to pursue their dreams, no matter what gender those dreams are often reserved for.
It's so refreshing to see a celebrity who, instead of laughing at others, is so willing to laugh at herself. Not because she lacks confidence but, rather, because she is so entirely at home in who she is. After all, not many people are bold enough to display their awkward dance moves on national television in front of millions every day, but she does — and gets the audience to join in, no less! And when Kate McKinnon started doing impressions of DeGeneres on SNL, not only was DeGeneres not offended, she invited McKinnon to do the spot-on impression live on her show.
This post was sponsored by Warner Bros.
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