Ellen DeGeneres Addresses Being 'Kicked Out of Show Business' for Being 'Mean' During Standup Show

Ellen DeGeneres
Casey Durkin/NBC via Getty Images

Ellen DeGeneres is traveling the country with her Last Stand...Up tour, which kicked off in San Diego on June 18.

Ellen DeGeneres is back, and she's not shying away from her past. 

As she kicked off her Last Stand... Up tour on Wednesday in San Diego, California, the 66-year-old comedian opened up about her "cancellation" and discussed her return to the stage  -- and the public eye -- two years after she ended her daytime talk show after 19 seasons. An eyewitness in the audience says the former TV host chatted about her life these days and those "mean" allegations that she said derailed her career. 

"I got kicked out of show business because I'm 'mean'... You can't be mean in show business, they'll kick you out," she joked, adding that at one point she read a headline that called her the "most hated person in America." Ever the comedian, DeGeneres quipped that while it didn't feel good to read front-page fodder like that, it was doubly awful because it's a title that holds no trophy or prize. 

She continued, stating that the fall from grace was made worse considering that she was once viewed as one of the most trusted people in the country and that fans and friends alike would often ask her to babysit their children. That doesn't happen anymore, she said, noting that it actually isn't the worst thing now that she is out of child-watching duty. 

DeGeneres -- who faced allegations back in 2020 of upholding a toxic workplace environment at The Ellen DeGeneres Show and being rude -- told the audience that while she is many things, she does not consider herself to be a "mean" person. She said that while the media firestorm was awful at the time, it has ultimately led her to a point of clarity and happiness in her life. It's also given her the ability to make jokes about the situation. 

Also in the audience on Wednesday was DeGeneres' wife of 16 years, Portia de Rossi, who the comedian said is her "best friend" and "soulmate." The comedian often looked to de Rossi for assurance throughout the show as she cracked joke after joke about their lives post-scandal. DeGeneres even joked that her first cancellation in Hollywood was when she came out on her TV sitcom, Ellen, in 1997. She also said she expects one more cancellation in a couple of years when she hits the age where Hollywood has no more use for women. 

Back in 2020, DeGeneres and her eponymous show faced toxic workplace allegations, so much so that the comedian and actress issued an on-air apology. Two years later, she made the decision to end her show after 19 seasons on air. 

"Ellen's last show was emotional for her," a source told ET at the time. "It feels like an end of an era, but she is ready for the next chapter of her life. It feels bittersweet."

Then, a year after The Ellen DeGeneres Show came to an end, a source told ET about how the former host was keeping busy. "Ellen is not retired. She did not renew her show, but she has never not worked," the source said. "Although she has taken some time off from acting, she has a number of brands, an upcoming documentary as part of her Discovery deal, etcetera, that she is working on."

Earlier this year, she addressed the allegations of a toxic workplace at The Ellen DeGeneres Show and the toll that it took on her mental health, telling the audience that her identity was caught in her show and that the scandal rocked her to her core. 

"I got kicked out of show business. There's no mean people in show business," DeGeneres said during a comedy set, per Rolling Stone. "The 'be kind' girl wasn't kind. I became this one-dimensional character who gave stuff away and danced up steps."

"Do you know how hard it is to dance up steps? Would a mean person dance up steps?" she added. "Had I ended my show by saying, 'Go f**k yourself,' people would've been pleasantly surprised.”

The remarks came during a set at Largo in Los Angeles, where she also said that the difficult time in her life led to some major realizations. It appears the jokes were her first run-through for what will be the routine for her tour. 

DeGeneres said, "I used to say that I didn't care what other people thought of me and I realized… I said that at the height of my popularity. It is such a waste of time to worry about what other people think."'

In her new tour, the Emmy Award winner echoes her earlier sentiments, telling the crowd on Wednesday during a Q&A portion that she now genuinely doesn't care what people think, but it took her two long and hard years to reach this realization. DeGeneres also urged anyone in the audience struggling with things mentally to seek help, telling them that things do get better and change is necessary. 

DeGeneres also joked toward the end of the show that she is so grateful the money in show business is good as "cancellation" can be swift, noting that the entire industry is built on likability. When that is shot, she said, you are back to square one. 

The comedian is taking her act on the road across the U.S. in her first major tour since the scandal. DeGeneres is visiting roughly two dozen cities between June and August. Tour dates and locations can be found on her website

The tour will be the basis for what will be her final Netflix stand-up special, six years after her last, Relatable, dropped on the streaming platform. 

In a pre-released statement about the tour and the special, DeGeneres said, "To answer the questions everyone is asking me -- yes, I'm going to talk about it. Yes this is my last special. Yes, Portia really is that pretty in real life."