When Ellen DeGeneres was about 20 years old, her girlfriend at the time passed away in a car crash. While the comedian has not often spoken publicly about the event, she did discuss the tragedy with Dax Shepard's podcast, Armchair Expert, in a recent episode, noting that it inadvertently inspired her big break in the comedy world.
“My girlfriend was killed in a car accident when I was like 20 years old. And I wasn’t doing comedy, I think I was probably waitressing someplace at the time. I was living with her when she was killed,” DeGeneres recalled.
“I couldn’t afford to live where we were living together and so I moved into this tiny little basement apartment,” she continued. “I moved into this basement apartment and I was sleeping on a mattress on a floor and it was infested with fleas. And I used to write all the time, I wrote poetry and songs and stuff, and I thought, ‘Why is this beautiful 21-year-old girl just gone and fleas are here?’”
“I just thought it would be amazing if we could just pick up the phone and call up God and ask questions and get an answer," she explained.
That thought led her to write her famous “Phone Call to God” comedy bit, which she instantly knew was a hit.
“It just unfolded, I just wrote the entire thing and when I finished, I read it and I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s hilarious,'" she remembered. "'I’m going to do this on Johnny Carson and I’m going to be the first woman in the history of the show be asked to sit down.’”
The 60-year-old did just that in 1986, becoming the first woman Carson invited to sit on the couch on The Tonight Show after performing the bit.
DeGeneres previously spoke about her late girlfriend during a 2015 episode of Oprah's Master Class, revealing that the pair had broken up after a fight. The couple was out at a music show and her girlfriend tried to reconcile, but DeGeneres was "dismissive."
“She was trying to get me to come back home. I acted like I couldn’t hear her because the music was too loud. I was being
The pair traveled home separately, with DeGeneres passing a car wreck on the way home, and it wasn't until the next morning that DeGeneres learned her girlfriend had been killed in the accident she saw.3comments
“That, of course, made me feel like I should have gone home with her that night,” DeGeneres said. “In an instant, she just was gone. It shifted my entire focus."
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