There is no doubt that Ellen DeGeneres is well loved. And there’s also no doubt that she is one hell of a funny lady. However, the public’s affection for her stretches far beyond the silly pranks and hilarious skits.
From the day Ellen arrived on our TV screens, nobody had any idea how big she would eventually become. Yet there was something– a certain spark, a clarity and relaxation that put the audience at ease (while also captivating them), and a calm insistence on pushing boundaries. The biggest example of the latter, of course, was coming out on live television, coinciding with the famous Time magazine cover: ‘Yep, I’m gay’.
However, the year was 1997 and the USA was simply not ready. Ellen took a hard hit that resulted in the cancellation of her show and a potentially career-killing fall from grace. Yet she persevered, staying strong and pursuing her truth. In the process, she eventually came to change the way many people viewed not only her life and who she came to love, but their own, and the lives of many others.
The most remarkable thing during all of this was her total lack of contempt or negativity. There were, of course, many funny and on-point jokes, but there was no underlying resentment there, no rejection of her country’s intolerance, no anger towards her fans — who had pretty much stopped paying attention. Ellen so gracefully returned with only positivity and an upbeat attitude that she made it impossible to ignore her.
Now, more than 20 years later, Ellen has continued to stay loved — and not just by the LGBT community, but by communities all over the world. From voice-overs to hosting the Academy Awards, from countless nominations and awards for her hugely popular day-time show, to marrying the love of her life, Portia De Rossi, Ellen earned her way back into the heart of our culture by simply and steadfastly being her.
And what does ‘being Ellen’ do? It makes people feel good, period. Everyday, millions of people invite her into their homes for one reason alone: to laugh. Counting down from 20, here are some of Ellen’s funniest, most poignant quotes.
20) On the importance of exercise.
You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 today and we don’t know where the hell she is.
19) On procrastinating.
Procrastination isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. So procrastinate now, don’t put it off.
18) On being a role model.
I’m a godmother, that’s a great thing to be, a godmother. She calls me god for short, that’s cute, I taught her that.
17) On gender roles.
I think they should have a Barbie with a buzz cut.
16) On finding happiness.
We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos and negativity and bullying in the world. And I think if everybody focused on what we all have in common – which is – we all want to be happy.
15) On her own values.
I’m not an activist; I don’t look for controversy. I’m not a political person, but I’m a person with compassion. I care passionately about equal rights. I care about human rights. I care about animal rights.
14) On her love for animals.
We have two dogs, Mabel and Wolf, and three cats at home, Charlie, George and Chairman. We have two cats on our farm, Tom and Little Sister, two horses, and two mini horses, Hannah and Tricky. We also have two cows, Holy and Madonna. And those are only the animals we let sleep in our bed.
13) On the little things.
Right before I decided to come out, I went on a spiritual retreat called ‘Changing the Inner Dialogue of Your Subconscious Mind.’ I’d never been to anything like it before, and all my friends were taking bets on how long I’d last with no TV, no radio, no phone. But for me that was the beginning of paying attention to all the little things.
12) On acceptance.
Accept who you are. Unless you’re a serial killer.
11) On being a risk taker.
When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.
10) On life.
Life is short. If you doubt me, ask a butterfly. Their average life span is a mere five to fourteen days.
9) On following ones dream.
Follow your passion. Stay true to yourself. Never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path. By all means, you should follow that.
8) On sexual preference.
I like my coffee like I like my men. I don’t drink coffee.
7) On growing older.
You are never too old to play. You are only too old for low-rise jeans.
6) On bigots.
I see those picketers, and I think you know, if I weren’t a loving, non-violent, spiritual person, I would really go over there and grab those signs and smash them over their heads and shove them up their asses. But. . . I’m a loving, spiritual person.
5) On laughter.
Laugh as much as you can. Laugh until you cry. Cry until you laugh. Keep doing it even if people are passing you on the street saying, ‘I can’t tell if that person is laughing or crying, but either way they seem crazy, let’s walk faster.’ It’s okay. It shows you are thinking and feeling.
4) On her wife.
Man, my wife’s hot.
3) On having children.
Even before I knew I was gay, I knew I didn’t want to have a child. I knew I didn’t want to have one. I never want to have to release it from me. Listen, I love babies. I love children and I melt when I’m around them. I also love my freedom and I love that I can sleep at night.
2) On privacy.
Do we have to know who is gay or straight? Can’t we just love everybody and judge them by the car they drive?
1) On being funny.
People always ask me, ‘were you funny as a child?’ Well, no, I was an accountant.