[11/25/08 - 03:19 PM]
Interview: "Ellen's Even Bigger Really Big Show" Host Ellen Degeneres
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

While working on her TBS comedy special, "Ellen's Even Bigger Really Big Show," Ellen DeGeneres shared the one thing that she truly feels is the best thing about Las Vegas, where the show was performed and is airing this Saturday at 9:00/8:00c as part of the network's annual Comedy Festival.

"The buffet. I don't know how much it is now but it's still a deal, isn't it? It's a bargain. I think you can get in and eat all you want. So, I'm vegan so I'll just have salad but still that's a bargain." And while the cheap eats are the biggest appeal for the talk show host/comedian, she also riffed on other things she'll look into while in the flashy Nevada town. "I'm gonna gamble. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to gamble. And is there a clothing optional pool there? I think you'd have to have certain rooms that look down [on the pool]... I think it is at Caesars but I was shocked. I guess there's a lot of European people that go there and that's important to them."

Familiar faces surrounding her also made working on "Ellen's Even Bigger Really Big Show" a positive experience. "I try to do that with any project that I take on... I just got this Cover Girl campaign and we shot a commercial and I used the director that I worked with for all my Amex commercials and I really try to bring the same team with me creatively. It's much quicker. We all have this shorthand and I also think they happen to be very talented so we're all excited about it and we all like to gamble so we can get our work done and then sit down at the tables and give our money away."

In regards to prepping for the TBS comedy show as well as when she's doing her talk show or stand-up, DeGeneres said that her preparation methods are a bit unconventional compared to other comedians. "I am the opposite of Chris Rock and Seinfeld and Leno and everybody. I never try out material. When I did the Oscars, when I do anything I write it and I just have a gut feeling and I just tweak it and [keep] tweaking and tweaking until I think I have the wording right and I know what to say and I just say it. I don't ever go to clubs and try it out. I don't tell people. I have writers here at the show [that] write the show every single day and we collaborate on that and the same thing with this special coming up. We've all been writing and then it comes down to me keeping it or changing it or... I just have a feeling of what I want to say and what is the right wording and I don't ask anybody. It's always how I've done it." Obviously, with her long, successful career, her method is working.

While boosted by the election of Barack Obama to the Office of President, DeGeneres is also aware that there are many other factors in the world that are not so positive which she feels is all the more reason that the timing for more comedy is right now. "I think people need to laugh everyday even more so now. Whether the economy is good or bad, the important thing is to laugh and feel positive and if you're laughing at something positive. If you're laughing at mean jokes, then it's a wash. But it's nice to laugh and feel good every single day and the variety special is something that we did last year and we're doing again now and I think we're doing three more after this. So it's something that I was signed on before the economy was falling apart but hopefully they're will be people out there winning slot machines and then they buy a ticket and come on in."

Although DeGeneres repeatedly stated that she doesn't like bringing politics into her comedy, there was no way she was going to pass up having then-Presidential candidates John McCain or Barack Obama on her talk show. Speaking of McCain, she commented "he doesn't really agree with equality and that's what it really boils down to [for me] is equality but... I wasn't going to give him too hard of a time because I understand that that's how he believes and I wasn't going to change anything... I wasn't there to change his mind... I just wanted to present just a very obvious case for it which is we are all the same and we all deserve to have equal rights. And I'm glad it got picked up [on YouTube] and people watched it... like I said, I didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable. That's not my job and it's not the kind of show I ever want to do."

When political figures do appear on her talk show, they are usually expected to do more than just sit on a chair and answer questions. "I guess when you get the political candidates to dance," she said, quickly adding, "... well, actually one dance... you know, that's going to get some play. I mean I have the picture of Barack and I dancing right outside my dressing room door. I see it every single day and it makes me very happy. I was thrilled for it... and really proud and excited as a lot of people are about [the election]." As for future talking about politics on her show, she said, "I commented on it a tiny bit leading up to the election just because there were some things to comment on but I'm not really a political comedian so I think I'm done with that although I never say never."

One place where fans shouldn't expect to see DeGeneres anytime soon is repeating her role as host of the Academy Awards broadcast. "I kind of feel like there's a no-win situation for me now," she shared. "It's a really tough job and I did it and I thought I did well and now if I do it, if I do well, then great. If I don't do well, then I'm kind of talked about and criticized. It's just a lot of work and a lot of pressure and there's so much going on in my life now that I probably wouldn't do it again. I enjoyed it. It was something that I'd always wanted to do and I did it and now I feel like it's so much effort, so much energy to do that at the same time as doing this and I'm taking on a bunch of other projects. I'm starting to produce some television projects and I'm doing a movie that I'm starting to work on. I kind of feel like my plate is full."

Be it talking politics, her love for animals, gay rights or pop culture, DeGeneres said that she's the same Ellen across the board. "There's really no difference between Ellen-the standup or Ellen-the talk show host or Ellen-at home. This is my humor that you see everyday on the [talk] show and it always was when I did standup [and] when I toured. It's just kind of commentating on absurdities and human behavior so there's going to be a lot of comments about Vegas [in the special], obviously. And then, ya know, lots of other things... I'm writing right now every single day and once I get there I'll write some more and we'll see what happens. I mean, as far as the show goes, it's pretty much produced already and then as we watch rehearsals we'll see if something comes up that I want to change but... it's not like I'm going to be topless or start cursing all of a sudden. It's pretty much the same." However, Ellen-the comedian couldn't resist adding one final quip. "Now that I mention it, I may be topless. That sounds actually kind of exciting."

If you're in the need of laughter this weekend, you can catch "Ellen's Even Bigger Really Big Show" this Saturday night at 9:00/8:00c on TBS while you should check your local listings to see "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" every weekday.

  [november 2008]  


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