Ellen DeGeneres is getting back to her stand-up comedy roots in her Netflix special, Relatable. And according to her candid interview with The New York Times, she’s tempted to walk away from her hugely popular talk show when her contract ends in 2020.
It’s easy to forget that the 60-year-old comedian was essentially blacklisted from Hollywood after she (and her fictional counterpart on TV) came out of the closet in the 90s. Ellen’s impact on the mainstream public’s perception of gays and lesbians can’t be overstated. Her brother, Vance DeGeneres, believes that Ellen should continue using her platform as America’s top daytime talk show host to do good in the world.
Portia de Rossi, Ellen’s wife of 10 years, has a different opinion. De Rossi reportedly thinks it’s time to step away from the exhausting and creatively limiting Ellen show. “I don’t see the end of her show as her career ending,” she clarified to the Times.
One of the main reasons Ellen might walk away from her show–and the $50 million a year paycheck–is that she’s tired of playing nice all the time. As a talk show host, she’s had to be pleasant, enthusiastic, and non-controversial for the last 15 years. And apparently fans are constantly demanding that she dance for them in selfies, even though Ellen retired that schtick two years ago.
It was a relief for Ellen to return to stand-up because she was able to drop that ultra-nice persona. “I wanted to show all of me,” she said. “The talk show is me, but I’m also playing a character of a talk-show host. There’s a tiny, tiny bit of difference.”
Although not as extreme as Stephen Colbert’s persona on The Colbert Report, both he and Ellen expressed a similar feeling of being burnt out playing a character that they can’t escape even when off the screen.
That decision to stop dancing on her show? It caused Ellen a huge amount of anxiety. It turns out that while she’s been entertaining us with her upbeat-yet-soothing presence, the pressure has been eating away at her.
Ellen might decide to retire in 2020. She’ll be 62 then, and frankly, she’s earned a break. Or she might explore more stand-up opportunities like Relatable. Whatever she ends up doing, let’s just take a moment and say “thanks” for all the hard work she puts in to making America’s day a little bit better.