Before her life was filled with laughs, it was filled with tragedy…
“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, and when she was killed, I couldn’t afford to live where we were living together. So, I moved into this tiny little basement apartment that I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor infested with fleas. I thought, ‘Why is this beautiful, 21-year-old girl gone and fleas are here?”‘
Despite her grief, the funny lady used the somber material as inspiration for her now-famous “Phone Call to God” bit.
“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… 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. 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.”‘
In November 1986, DeGeneres did exactly that, and was the first female comedian invited to sit down on The Tonight Show host’s couch after a stand-up routine.
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[Image via Armchair Expert Podcast/Instagram.]