Procrastinate Now, Don’t Put it Off
Here and Now, Ellen DeGeneres live at The Beacon Theater, 2003
What comes to mind when you think of Ellen DeGeneres? The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Dory from Finding Nemo, or the first woman to publicly come out as a lesbian? Regardless of what comes to mind, Ellen DeGeneres is clearly well known, she is highly respected, and she has accomplishments far beyond many other women in the comedy world.
Ellen Lee DeGeneres was born on January 26, 1958 to an insurance salesman and working mother. She was born in a small town outside of New Orleans, Louisiana. Yes, this is a part of Ellen’s life, but what has truly impacted who DeGeneres is?
Many people know that Ellen’s parents divorced when she was younger. But what many people do not know the divorce happened when Ellen was at the awkward age of thirteen.
Imagine the drama and emotions of middle school, and then try dealing with separating parents on top of that. This time definitely proved to be challenging for Ellen, but during this time, she was able to find comfort through comedy. According to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, DeGeneres used comedy to help her mother through the heart wrenching time after the divorce: “My mother was going through some really hard times and I could see when she was really getting down, and I would start to make fun of her dancing,” DeGeneres remembered. “Then she’d start to laugh and I’d make fun of her laughing. And she’d laugh so hard she’d start to cry, and then I’d make fun of that. So I would totally bring her from where I’d seen her start going into depression to all the way out of it.” Ellen realized through the hard times, that she wanted to create her own talk show.
In the years to follow, DeGeneres struggled with the horrors of being molested, to losing a close friend in a car accident, but she didn’t let this stop her. By the age of twenty-three, DeGeneres began performing comedy routines for friends or at local coffeehouses. It was then when she decided to enter a national talent contest and won the contest, winning the title of “Funniest Person in America.” Throughout the next few years, DeGeneres appeared on several HBO specials and travelled around the country to perform. Despite these hard times in her life DeGeneres used her struggles as an opportunity to find her identity and figure out who she wanted to be.
Following these early successes, DeGeneres was honored as best female stand-up comic at the 1991 American Comedy Awards. About the same time, she started appearing in a few short-lived sitcoms, Open House and Laurie Hill, which soon after lead to her own show, These Friends of Mine in 1994. These Friends of Mine, which later became Ellen was a huge turning point in DeGeneres’s career. Ellen came out during this show in the spring of 1997, in an episode titled, The Puppy Episode. But did you know that DeGeneres made pop-culture history by becoming the first gay lead on a network television sitcom? DeGeneres once again paved the way for future comedians and actors who wanted to come out as well.
Following this show, DeGeneres appeared on her first HBO Comedy Special, Ellen DeGeneres, The Beginning. This Special truly was the beginning for DeGeneres. Yes, by this point in her life she was 42, but she was finally starting over. She was beginning her own comedy career, and beginning her life after coming out. Ellen’s success in her Comedy Special led to not one but two Emmy nominations, once again paving the way for future comedians. It was after this success that she hosted Saturday Night Live, and appeared on Will and Grace.
By 2003, everybody knew who DeGeneres was. 2003 was the year that DeGeneres truly did EVERYTHING. She published her best-selling book. The Funny Thing is…, was basically the star (Dory) in Finding Nemo, she returned to stand up and held her special Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now on HBO and by the fall, her daytime show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show premiered. DeGeneres of course loved what she was doing, and was happy, but she was becoming run down and overwhelmed by the business. She was moving at lightning speed 24 hours, every single day. Below is a little glimpse into what was going on inside of Ellen DeGeneres’s head during the year of 2003…
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Transcription of Here and Now:
Announcer: Ladies annnddd gentlemen. Please welcome Elleennn Degeneres.
Ellen: (walks on state, waves) (simultaneously, cheering proceeds) Alright, thanks.
Ellen: Alright. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you VERY much. Well…thanks. What a lovely way to start work. Thank you VERY MUCH. I encourage you to do that for your co-workers. Next time they walk into work, give them that, because it is a lovely way to start your job. Thank you SOOO much.
Audience: Cheering, Yelling
Ellen: What’s great about this, you know, you think about it, you have a room full of people. Everybody is SO different and we are all here for different reasons. Everybody has a different story. Some people are long time fans and bought their tickets the day they went on sale and I’m always appreciative of them. There they are. Five of them, (laughter) and yet look at the seats they get. That is a shame. (Cheering)
Some of you had to get babysitters, especially if you have kids… Some people, maybe you’re in a bad mood. Maybe you had a fight with your boyfriend…or your girlfriend… or your husband…or your wife or your lover or your partner or your “roommate” or your… niece. The point is you’re in a bad mood and now I’m going to have to work even harder to make you laugh all because you want things your way and YOU won’t back down. But that’s all right, because we are all here and with all of our differences, we all have one thing in common… We’re all gay. (Cheering, applause) (Ellen smiles)
Now there are people out there going, “Do they think we are gay because we are here? Do we look gay? I told you this would happen. We’re not going to understand a word of this.” (Pause) No that’s my one obligatory gay reference. I have to say something gay, otherwise some people might leave here tonight thinking, “She didn’t do anything gay. She’s not our leader. What happened to our leader?” (Applause) Seriously though, if you are here, you are probably gay. (Loud laughter) I mean… (Head nod) You have ten-den-ciess. You’ve thought about it. Now there are people thinking, “I have thought about it. Does that mean I’m gay? I’m not gay. Is that how they get us?”
Now, I think the one thing we have in common is that we all want to laugh and that is a beautiful thing. So…(Cheering, applause) I’m stalling… I, I, I have a problem with procrastination, and I’m supposed to start the show, and I’m not…
So. Um, this procrastination thing. Whenever there is something I am supposed to do, I’ll do anything other than the one thing I am supposed to do and then I feel bad about myself and then I get depressed and then I really don’t get anything done because I’m depressed. And I told a friend of mine about this problem, and she said, “You should go to therapy,” …and I thought about it and I thought, “Well wait a minute. Why should I pay a stranger to listen to me talk, when I can get strangers to pay to listen to me talk?” (Cheering) So that’s when I came up with the idea of touring. I thought, “Now I have to write a show. What do I want to say? What do I want to talk about?” So I sat down at my desk and I was staring at my desk and I thought, “Wow that’s dusty. I can’t write with my desk all dusty like this.” I went downstairs to get a rag and um on the way downstairs, my kitten was on the stairway, playing with a piece of dust, or something, and um and I went to pet the kit…cause it did the thing where it rolled on the back and showed you the belly and you gotta reward that. You can’t pass
that up. So, I sat down. I was petting the cat for about I don’t know, forty-five minutes or something like that and I went downstairs. By that time, I had forgotten why I went downstairs and I was standing around trying to remember, and I thought, “I should paint this room. (Laughter) … I wonder what color this is. It looks like a white, but I’m sure there’s some fancy name for it. All these people… What kind of job is that to come up with a name for paint colors. You know, like different color whites like eggshell, or linen or lily or off. All the different ones, you know?” and then I thought, “Maybe yellow, you know canary or banana or smoker’s teeth. (Laughter) You know something that would be…” I thought, “I’ve got to write, so maybe if I put music on, it will be more inspiring.”
So I went over to the cabinet where I keep all of my CDs. You should’ve seen that thing. Total disarray, just oh everything. Meatloaf was next to the cranberries, which I thought it would be funny one night to organize it by food when I was drunk. Really nothing else was in there except bread. Just all kind of things…like the doors, and the carpenters and the nine-inch nails were together. And that doesn’t help anything. So um, I thought, “I’ve got to organize this. I can’t put this off.” Oh I am sitting in these hundreds of CDs and the phone rings and it was a friend of mine. I said, “I can’t talk, I’m writing,” and so (Laughter) she said, “I can’t believe you. You are so disciplined. I have such a problem with procrastination.” Then, I said, “We should go to lunch and talk about that. So, we went to lunch and we were talking about procrastination and the waitress overheard us, and said, “I have a problem with procrastination too.” I said, “Really? Get my sandwich.” (Laughter)
But that’s when it hit me. That’s what I should talk about, procrastination. That’s a problem everybody has. It’s universal. Procrastination, and then I said, “Oh hold on, who am I kidding? I’m never going to get around to writing about procrastination.”
And my friend said, “That is why I brought this video tape. If you watch this guy, he keeps you focused. He keeps you on track. You’ll never procrastinate again.”
About a week later, I pop in the tape. (Laughter) I find that if you don’t press play right away, something’s on TV…All the time. We have seven hundred channels now. When did this happen? When I was a kid, we had five channels. We didn’t have a remote. You had to hate something baddd enough—to get up—and walk down—five feet to change the channel. (Walks forward) Damn Bonanza, those horses are SO MUCH louder when they runnnn. It was a simpler time back then. You know, we were so easily entertained. We would watch anything: Flying Nun, we would watch a talking horse. We were so much more sophisticated, now we’re watching people eating bugs and marrying strangers for money. (Loud applause)
Oh we’ve come a long way, haven’t we? It’s enough to make you miss Mayberry isn’t it? God, that was a great show. The pace on that show…nothing every happened on that show. When there’s time for whistling, there’s a lot of time on a show…everything was different. It was just slowwweerrrr and longgggerrrr. Commercials were six minutes long, telling us how delicious cigarettes and alcohol were (laughing). Man, those people were happy smoking and drinking, weren’t they? People are still happy in commercials, but now they are concentrated in thirty seconds. They have to be happy in thirty seconds. Now there are some happy people. That, that woman in the shampoo commercial… (Laughter) she’s happy… she’s too happy. I fell for it though, I bought the shampoo. I…I gotta tell you, I was shampooing for a good half hour, and I never — got — that—happy. Finally I just had to fake it, you know…had to get out of the shower.
It’s amazing, thirty seconds and we get invested in those characters in the commercials. You know that old man who can eat corn on the cob again, (smiles) I’m happy for him. He couldn’t eat it for a while. Now he can. That woman on jury duty, sings, “Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now. Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go” (walking as if she has to go to the bathroom) She gotta goooo. And the judge doesn’t understand. Such a relief by the end of that commercial. Sings: “and I don’t have to go right now.” Uh (smiles) fantastic. Lady. Those jingles are catchy. We retain that in thirty seconds. We remember all this stuff, you know. Because of the repetition, I believe that someday sitcoms will be thirty seconds long cause that’s all we’ll need and that’s all our attention span can take. Cause our attention span is shot. We all have attention deficit disorder. ADD or OCD. One of the disorders with three letters cause we don’t have the time and patience to pronounce the entire disorder. (Laughter) That should be a disorder right there. TBD-TOO BUSY DISORDER. What’s with this sudden choice in disorders that we’ve got now, you know. When I was a kid, we just have crazy people. That’s all. Just crazy people. All the commercials on television now are for anti-depressants, for Prozac or Paxil. And they get you right away. (Frowns), deep voice: Are you sad? Do you get stressed? Do you have anxiety? (Appears worried) Yes, yes I have all of those things. I’m alive. I don’t want to take a pill. Go to Africa. Go follow some bushman around. He’s getting chased by a lion. That’s stress. Not gonna find a pygmy on Paxil, I’ll tell you that now… (Ellen walks around the stage)
I was watching the news the other day. Brought to you by Paxil. Well now I need it. Smart advertising. That’s the other thing. When I was a kid, the news was on once a day. You either caught it or you missed it. Now the news is on twenty-four hours a day. And that isn’t enough. They have a guy talking, and a crawl down there (shakes finger) SO you got that guy talking and you got the crawl going. You’re online. You’re putting your opinion on your pole (Pretends to be typing) NO, I say to that NO. (puts hand up to ear like talking on the phone) No I said no too. (Still pretending to type, looking anxious). (Typing nodding goes on for 15 seconds, followed by cheering). And then if you stop paying attention to the crawl, you go back to that guy and then you go back to the crawl and you catch the end of something. Madonna’s left foot. Worried: What about Madonna’s left foot? WHAT HAPPENED? (Proceeds to pretend type, audience laughs). Waiting for it to come back around again (Swings hand around in a circle). Goes to commercial in a sad voice: Are you sad? Do you get stressed? (Sighs in frustration) There should just be one crawl that goes around over and over again. Things are getting worse. That’s all we need. And the local newsman. They want you to watch every broadcast they’ve got don’t they? It’s not good enough you’re watching the one you’re watching. These teases to get you to watch later on. They’re so incredibly cruel. Broadcasting voice: it could be the most deadly thing in the world, and you may be having it for dinner. We will tell you what it is tonight at 11. (Looks down and picks up imaginary spoon, like she’s eating, with worried eyes) High pitched, worried voice: Is it peas? (Laughter). (Puts imaginary spoon down and continues to look worried). I feel sorry for the newscasters. You know, we can turn it off, but that’s there jobs and they have to tell these stories. They’re just coming up on the teleprompter. They don’t know what’s coming up, and they’ve got to go through this range of emotion that. Monotone: there were no survivors and next, Upbeat: Which candy bar helps you lose weight? Still to come, smile fades, worried voice: is an asteroid headed towards Earth, but first, Excited: where to find the cheesiest pizza in town? Worried: Also a disturbing new study finds that studies are disturbing.
You know, it’s schizophrenic by the end of the news, aren’t they? No wonder they snap when they start talking to the weatherman. You’ve noticed it?! It’s, it’, it’s everywhere. They go to some fantasyland when they start talking to the weatherman. Nerdy voice: and now let’s go to Johnny with the weather. Johnny, when are you going to stop this rain and bring us some SUNSHINE?!?!?! (Ellen smiles) (Laughter) (Ellen looks around, switches sides) Johnny’s voice: I’ll stop the rain when you stop the car jackings Colleen. (Loud laughter) (Extended cheering). The weather is actually the best part of the news. At some point, you’re going to hear something positive. You’re going to hear, it’s a beautiful day, or it’s going to be a beautiful day, and it’s nice to take in something positive, you know? Cause we hear all this negative stuff all the time and we go out into the world and it’s so chaotic, and not that we’re going to notice if it’s a beautiful day, We’re — Moving — Too—Fast. We don’t pay attention to that, and we, we need help to keep up with that pace.
(Ellen stomps her foot) We’ll put a coffee shop here, (takes two steps right) and a coffee shop here (walks two steps back), and (two steps left) and the smallest coffee is a tall and (tenses up) I’ll have a coffee and a side of red bull because I’m very, very busy (looks wide eyed). (Laughter while Ellen looks around worried).
I’ve got TBD and I’m late for yoga. HURRY! HURRY! (Looks around) That we’re trying to even do yoga is a joke, isn’t it? I mean we are basically paying for silence. That’s what we are doing with that time. We are paying for silence. I was in yoga the other day and (laughter from the audience) I’m in full lotus position. My shockers are all aligned and my mind is all cleared of all chatter and I’m looking out on my third eye and I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing. It’s amazing what comes up, when you sit in that silence. Sings: Mama keeps whites, bright like the sun. Mama’s got the magic of Clorox 2. (Laughter and cheering) (Ellen smiles and walks, then becomes frustrated) I can’t stop that song. There is NO silence. There’s just constant noise, all the time. People are talking all the time and even with all of the talking, there’s no communication. We’re not.. and even when we say how are you, we don’t mean how are you, we don’t care, just give us a fine or good or one syllable and movee along. And don’t even say pretty good. That’s a follow up question. Pretty good?… Something happen? I…don’t…have time… To what? (looks around) We learn. We are conditioned not to engage in full conversation. You know, because as soon as you talk to somebody, somebody’s phone is going to go off immediately. DeDEDEdedeDEdededelede. (searching for phone in pockets, puts finger up signaling one minute) dedeledeldeDEEEEdededeeedeDEdEe
Thank God they got rid of those obnoxious rings, huh? And we certainly don’t have full conversations on cell phones. You know. Usually the reception is SO bad, but it’s only bad on your side. The person talking to you has no clue, they’re just rambling on and on. You’ve got your finger jammed in your ear. You’re shushing people on the street. You’re ducking behind a dumpster so you can hear about your friend’s new haircut. WHAT ABOUT THE BANGS??? SHORTER? ARE THE BANGS SHORTER?(looks around) THE BANGS? (looks around again) At least if there’s static or something, you have a warning, you have an indication you’re going to lose the call. You know? Theres nothing worse than it being crystal clear reception and you’ve been rambling onnnn for who knows how long only to find out it was cut out who knows how long ago. Yo..you..you learn. Then you’re scared to ever have a fun conversation again. You stop yourself in between, Hey so we were going to go to the cheese shop. HELLO. We knew we were having white wine. Still there? Alright. And I thought what kind of cheese would be best. DID I LOSE YOU? Alright. I like munster. (pause, walk around a little) Even when you’re at home, you’re going to be interrupted, by call waiting. Usually, which was created as a convenience. But it’s really turned into a many people’s choice award, hasn’t it? (pause for laughter). And you find out right away who wins or loses. You’re having a pleasant conversation with who you think is a good friend… You hear the click, they tell you to hold on. You’re confident that they’re going to come back to you…and then they come back and say, “I have to take this other call” You know what that means they said to the other person? “let me get rid of this other call.” (loud laughter) It’s what you just became. You don’t have to get to call wait.. you can let it go to voicemail. That’s why we have voicemail, to catch those calls that we miss. The voicemail I like the best is the one where you insert your name into it, and you end up sounding more like a robot than the robot. This call has been been forwarded to an automated voice message system: ELLEN is not available (laughter)(under her breathe- oh my goodness) is that how I say my name? (picks up fake phone). Yes I’d like to make dinner reservations for four and the name is ELLEN. Oh…
All this wireless technology, we can talk to anybody, anywhere, anytime. We just take that for granted. You know, It wasn’t that long ago, that we had one phone in the house, cord was just being invented back then. There was a shortage of cord (walks around reaching for cord). Maybe you had a foot or two from the wall to the phone. Back then, when you said you were on the phone, You were ON the phone. Then the kitchen wall phone came along (walks across stage) kind of an avocado or mustard green usually. A groovy color. There was a lot of cord. There was that 90 foot cord between the receiver. (grabs fake phone) You could just walk out of the house talking on the phone (walks across the stage). Clearing tables, wrapping around the dog. So that by time you hung up that phone, it just became this giant ball of cord confusion right there. But what was fun is that every so often, you would hold that cord and let the phone spin (spins circles with finger) and unwind itself back again. (holds up fake phone) good times.
We’re losing the simple pleaures. We don’t have it anymore. Now we have hands free phones, so you can focus on the thing you’re really supposed to be doing. Chances are, if you need both of your hands for something, your brain should be in on it too. (laughter, and applause) I don’t know. It’s just me. It’s technology. We have all these buttons. You know. Speed dial, redial, you program numbers so you never have to remember them anymore. And so you don’t. You know. Use it or lose it. And I’m losing it. I just, I don’t remember anything anymore because of the buttons that are remembering things for me. Have you ever forgotten what you were going to say?…as it’s coming out of your mouth. Hey you know what? (pause, worried face, laughter) (looks around confused), what was I going to say? (laughter) what was I going to say? Suddenly forcing them to participate. We were talking about floor lamps. No. Mariah Carey? NO. suddenly it’s a ten thousand dollar pyramid for these people. Uh. fast: things that tastes like chicken. Uh something that tastes like chicken. Things a monkey would wear. uh. (walks away). That’s right, we were talking about tiny hats. That’s bad, when you forgot what you were going to say two words in, but what’s worse then that is when you forget what you were going to say, after you’ve been talking for a while…(laughter).
Whole bunch of people are sitting around, talking about some subject matter, heated discussion. And they all have opinions, you don’t really, then all of a sudden, you think, HEY maybe I do. So… you jump in there. And then you start thinking, it’s a pretty good opinion. When they hear this opinion, they’re gonna think, hey she’s smarter than I thought. I had no idea how smart she was. So you start congratulating yourself and because you’re celebrating too soon, you’ve completely forgot the point you were trying to make…AND you’re still talking. Now they’re looking at you like you don’t know what you are talking about. And you don’t but you can’t let them know that. So you just keep talking, praying that the thought will come back to you. And it doesn’t. so you start panicking, because not only have you forgotten the point, you’ve forgotten the entire subject matter that anyone was talking about, so now you REALLY start panicking. You start sweating and you have to loosen your tie if you’re a man or Diane Keaton or Avril Levine. (laughter) and….
Then you try to get out of it by saying any generic statement that comes to mind. Well six of one, half a dozen of the other. (laughter) but it’s a slippery slope my friend (Ellen laughs at herself). Teach a man to fish.. and uh there’s no I in team. (audience laughter while Ellen looks around, awkwardly) Technology is hurtin’ us I say. I blame the microwave for most of our problems. Anything that gets that hot without fire, that’s from the devil. (laughter) You don’t believe me, you put a hot pocket in there for 3 or 4 minutes and pop that thing in your mouth. If that’s not hell, I don’t know what is ladies and gentlemen.
We’re lazy. We have buttons doing everything for us. Theres no physical activity attached to anything anymore. Even the garage door opener. We used to have to get out of the car, and open up the garage door. Now there’s a button you push. You know, and the car window (roles arm in circular motion) This became too much. I don’t wanna churn butter, I just want fresh air. (looks at arm, tired, stretching, audience chuckles) We still use that gesture, if we want somebody to role their window down. In traffic, we still use that, even though nobody’s got it. Cause we’d look like idiots if we did this… (makes motion of pushing window button) (loud laughter) We’re lazy, even, we used to have breath mints. Now we have breath strips. They just dissolve on our tongue for us. How lazy… can we not suck anymore (laughter) (sticks tongue out) ehh put it on ehh. I’m tiaaadd ehh. I haa a haawwd day. Ehh we’re lazy. We’re on the go. We’ve got food on the go. We’ve got Go-gurt. Yogurt for people on the go. Was there a big mobility problem with yogurt before? How time consuming was it really? (picks up imaginary phone) Hello, oh hi Tom. Ooh I’ve been dying to see that movie. Mmm no I just opened up some yogurt. I am in for the night. (shakes head) Not even later, it’s the kind with fruit on the bottom. Aw well, thanks anyway. Have fun! (puts imaginary phone down) That’s a shame, (laughter) and where are we going that there won’t be food when we get there? There’s food everywhere. We’ve got an abudance of food. We’ve got all you can eat places. We don’t need to be eating all we can eat. We’re not bears. We’re not hibernating. We’ll be back tomorrow night to eat the same amount of stuff. And only in the darkness of a movie theater, do we not feel guilty about eating a three pound box of snowcaps. We stalk up on popcorn and candy, like we’re crossing the Sierra’s don’t we? (laughter) You have any vinicen or hard tack or anything like that? Okay I’ll have a couple of soft pretzels, a hot dog, uhh milk duds, jujubes, is that the largest popcorn bucket? You don’t have a barrel or anything like that? (laughter) you have a donkey or a pack mule or anything? Oh and a diet coke (nods) (laughter) and something about the darkness. We just lose all of our inhibitions in the darkness. Is the popcorn really that delicious, we must shovel handfuls of it into our mouths.(imitates shoveling popcorn) (eating popcorn noises) (picks fake popcorn off shirt) (laugher)
Then you have these people in the movie theater who talk the whole time during the movie. You ever go with somebody like that to a movie, but you don’t realize til you get there, you’re with somebody like that? Brand new movie. First day it’s open. You’re there together and the entire time you’re sitting there. Whispers: Where’s she going?... Why’d he do that? Is he mad at her? (turns head to be other person): I don’t know. Let’s watch and find out together, shall we. You know who you are. You’re denying it right now. Whispers: I do not do that. Why’s she saying that? What’s she going to say next? (laughter) Then you have those people sitting behind you. They have that nervous foot that just vibrates the whole time and it finds the way to the back of your chair (shakes foot) or they cross and uncross their legs and kick the back of your chair. And you want to turn around and say please stop it. But you don’t. This is how we try to get that point across. (turns around, back facing audience) (glances over shoulder many times , audience cheers) (turns around) Don’t they know the international signal for that’s irritating? Or you have these people when you have the rocking chair seats. They need to use your seat back as leverage to get out of their seat behind you. You just go flying back there for a second (leans back) (flings herself forward) (laughter) Feel like you’re going to get catapulted out of there for a second (flings back and forth again) Ooh, oh. No acknowledgement. No I’m sorry. No nothing. They’re just walking away with junks of your…weave in your hand. People aren’t as considerate as they used to be, I find. I-I wouldn’t mind hearing a few more please and thank yous. That wouldn’t hurt anybody would it? (cheering) NO.
You ever hold the door open for somebody, and they just waltz right through there? No eye contact. No thank you, no nothing. You’re just standing there, well you’re welcome, your majesty. Sorry I didn’t sprinkle rose petals for you. And then you meant to hold it for just that one person, and then it’s like a clown car let out, you’re just standing there, 3 and 4 a second are just streaming in. (shakes head back and forth) Nobody will take it from ya. You ever been running for an elevator, there’s somebody in there and they see you and they just stand there (looks around), (keeps looking around, audience laughter) like they don’t want you to make it. It’s awkward when you do make it, isn’t it? (walks onto imaginary elevator, stares at imaginary person, audience laughs) you didn’t think I’d make it did ya? Wellll I did. If somebody’s running for the elevator, I’m gonna try to keep the door, I’m gonna stick my arm (sticks arm out) until it’s too risky, I’m not gonna do it when it’s risky but... And then sometimes if it’s an elevator you’ve never been in, you can’t-the panel of the heiroglyfics of arrows of which ones to push. But im gonna let em in…as the doors are closing, I DID ALL I COULD. (closes fake doors with hands) We wanna be in there by ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with that, you know. It’s a tiny little space, close proximity to a stranger. It’s silent. That’s awkward. I always try to break that silence by saying something. You know. (looks around, sighs) First day of parole. (laughter) Or hey wanna smell something weird? What’s funny is you won’t say that, but you’ll think about it when you’re in there with someone and then you’ll laugh, and then they’ll wonder why you’re laughing.
The elevator’s a convience and a mode of transportation I’m all for. It takes you up high, real fast. It’s fantastic, but there are certain modes of transportation, that come along with. Those moving sidewalks in the airport. You know I can see if you get in the airport, get on the thing and it takes you right to the gate, then that’s convenient. But it’s not, it’s just in the middle of nowhere. A little section of the airport. Like a little ride in the middle of nowhere. What’s that serving? What’s that. I mean it’s fun cause it’s moving (moves arm) you’re moving while you’re on it. You’re like the bionic (walks like a robot) woman. You’re flying, passing people on the ground. The hard thing is adjusting to walking again after you get off. (walks fast, stumbles off imaginary moving sidewalk). Trying to find your pace. What about those people, who get on there and just stand there. What’s that about? Thank god they’re on there. I don’t know how they get anywhere.
You’d think with all these things that are speeding things up for us, moving us along, we’d get places earlier, at least, on time. We still have those people that are late, all the time. You know, it’s one thing if you’re late once in a while, but these people who are consistently late, always have the same excuse. (sigh) Oh sorry traffic. (nods) really? How’d you think I got here? Helicoptered in? I allow for it. Then they get all defensive, soorrryyy. And when they say it like that, they don’t mean it. Not when it goes up in the middle like that sooRRyy. That’s not sorry. It’s like those people who say something insulting and then they end it with just kidding as if that erases it somehow. Hey’d you get a haircut? Wouldn’t pay for that thing (Ellen chuckles) I’m just kiddin. (laughter) well then, you don’t know how to kid properly, (nods) cause we should both be laughing. (loud applause)
I find a lot of people don’t know how to kid properly. People don’t understand the definition of kidding. You know. You tell someone something sad, that my dog of seventeen years died. switches role: You’re kidding? No, as funny is that is, im not (nods, audience laughter). People always say things they don’t mean, you know. People who say the worst thing… Uh, the papercut it’s the worst thing. Is it? Really. Okay. What about pickle juice in your eye? That’s pretty bad too. You ever have pickle juice in your eye? Boy those pickle jars, have you tried opening them lately? They’re vacuum sealed. You can’t open those jars. They’re so tight. You know there was a time, there was a big ole barrel in a general store, you’d role up your sleeve, and dip in there for a big ole dill and those days are gone. Now they’re all in the jars, and they’re vacuum sealed. Trying to open them and you cannot. (tries to open imaginary jar, struggles) Squatting helps sometimes, that actually, and you always have that one person in the kitchen, give it, I got it. (applause) I got it. (signals to come) Give it I got it. Give it. I got it. Give it, give it up. I got it. I got it, give it. (squats) Determined to get it then you give it and they just pop it right off. Well I loosened it. And then once you get the lid off, that’s when the danger of the pickle juice in the eye comes along. The juice is to the top. They’re not kidding around with that juice are they? Man that juice is up, and the pickles are packed in there like…I wish they packed potato chips the way they pack pickles. Right? It’s all air. There’s just six potato chips once you get the thing open. Pickles are packed in there like sardines. Which by the way, if you’ve opened up are not packed as tightly as pickles. That expression should change. So.. now.. (laughter) Now you gotta get the pickle out of there right? And they’re packed in there like.. pickles. It’ll catch on. So then. You need help, and you’re looking for that little stem. It’s attached. The dry, little dill handle, if you will. Ever so gently you try to lift. (makes motions with hands) And it comes off. You knew it would, but you wanted to try. So then, you have to go into the pickle claw. And the pickle claw, you know it, you know it well. It’s the same claw. It’s upside down, claw to get the toilet paper that hasn’t dropped down yet, (again motions with hand) it’s the same claw. Notice next time. Toilet paper claw, pickle class (moves hand) then once you get the pickle out of there, there’s pickle juice in your eye, and I’m not saying it’s the worst thing, I’m just saying it’s bad.
The worst thing, is trying to get into a brand new CD. (laughter) Am I right? What has happened with the packaging of CDs. These are angry, angry people, CD packagers. Open here. Is that sarcasm? Are they mocking me? Open here? And it’s sealed with plastic. I’ve never seen, this thick, thick government plastic. I think its government. I’ve never seen it that thick before. Civilians can’t open it. And it’s like are they trying to keep it fresh? Why is it sealed in plastic? And then you can’t get into it without slashing with scissors, or a knife. That’s how you have to get into anything now, scissors. All the packaging now is like that. Have you tried to buy scissors? You need scissors to get into scissors. What if you’re buying them for the first time? How you supposed to get in there? Batteries are packaged like they never want you to get in. Thick, lamenated plastic, and thick cardboard. And staples from like a staple gun. What can happen to batteries. And then try to buy a light bulb. Thin thin thin cardboard. (laughter) Open on both ends. What do they think? Oh they’ll be fine. Everything’s all different now. The packaging, how you get into things. Toilet paper. Have you tried to, if you get into a public restroom and the toilet paper hasn’t gotten started yet, and you’re the first one there, you have to find the start of it. You start out slow at first. (acts like petting a dog) Surely I’ve gone around once or twice. Then you go fast (starts hitting the air) maybe the wind will open the flap. Maybe I’m going the wrong way (switches direction). Back. Then back to this way again. And then finally you find it, and it’s glued down. They’re gluing the first flap down. Why? Now you’re trying to lift it. And only a quarter of an inch comes unglued. The rest stays glued, so now you’re pulling and you’ve got a five foot long quarter of an inch strip that you just keep pulling, and I don’t want A STREAMER, I WANT TOILET PAPER. This is no time to celebrate. Then you’re trying to get it started, and there’s a grove out of one side. The whole rest of it is in tact, so then you just stick your finger across, wasting most of the role, trying to start it anew. Which never goes evenly across. Then you just start clawing at it like a wild animal. JESUS, I just want toilet paper. Just (starts clawing with hands again) (laughter). What’s happened to the toilet paper, by the way, in public bathrooms? It’s not even one ply anymore is it? It’s a sheer suggestion of what toilet paper used to be. Innuendo, a ghost. It’s like presutto, it’s so thin. And then because it’s so thin and it’s on a huge cheese wheel sized role. It’s like a spare tire role of toilet paper. So the heaviness of the role, with the thinness of toilet paper, trying to move it alone, is just (leans over) please if I could just have more than one uh one. (laughter) I just want one.. please just give me.. two, no one. I just uh one. Fifteen minutes later, you’ve got fifteen squares in your hand. Which equal one ply.
And then they’re making things easier that don’t need to be made easier. You know these toilets that are flushing automatically now, which I’ll decide when I’M done. Cause sometimes they just go off randomly. You’re sitting there (wooosshh makes toilet noise) (gasps, mouths oh my god) HOW DARE YOU. (laughter) cause then they don’t go off when you want them to. You’re standing up, staring at the toilet. (laughter) (waves hand trying to set off motion sensor) Gotta sit down and fake it out again. (pretends to sit) (sit down, walk away, repeat) (laughter) Then you have to go wash your hands. You have no control over that either. You go to the sink. It has to SEE your hands first, underneath. And then it decides how much water you need also. It gives you a certain portion. You don’t know how much you’re going to get, so you’re like a little raccoon under there just. (violently rubs hands together, then rubs face, then rubs hand together) (laughter) And then it decides it’s enough water. And it’s not so you have to pull out and go pretend like you’re new hands and go back in again. And the drier, you put your hands under quickly like that (shakes hands around) and all this is to avoid germs. You walk over to that disease-ridden door handle and open it up, (laughter applause) back to that bowl of mixed nuts you’re sharing at the bar. (chuckles at herself) And then you’re all paranoid cause your friends are waiting at the bar, you’ve been in the bathroom for half an hour and feel weird.
It’s amazing how much time that we put thought into thinking about what other people are thinking about us. When everybody else is just thinking about what we are thinking about them. You know? We are so comfortable with that uncomfortable feeling that we just, we just get so used to it anything. You know, if somebody starts talking to you and even a tiny bit of moisture comes out and lands on your cheek, you know it’s there, they certainly know it’s there, and nobody acknowledges it, you just keep talking directly into each other’s eyes (wide eyed) acting like that didn’t just happen. (wide eyed, smiles for 10 seconds) waiting for them to glance away for just a second so you can do that. (wipes face) Why? Would that insult them if they saw us wipe that away? You don’t want that there? WHY would you wipe my spittle away? (laughter)
Where just anything makes us uncomfortable. Have you ever waved to somebody, you’re sure it’s them. (laughter) Oh there’s Nancy. (smiles, waves) grits teeth: Oh it’s not Nancy uh. (looks away) (casually waves) nervous voice: Weird stuff happening inside. (looks uncomfortable, breathing heavy) It’s really bad, when you go out of your way to get their attention, isn’t it? Oh look there’s nancy. NANCY, NANCY, (waves) NANCY!!! high pitched: Uhh is not Nancy. I thought you were somebody else (smiles, looks uncomfortable) with gritted teeth: You look like Nancy. Let’s go let’s go. You look like Nancy. (laughter and applause) Or if somebody’s waving to you and you know you don’t know them, but you wave back anyway. (waves arm back and forth, looking confused) (Ellen starts laughing) (pretends to be laughing with friends) Or if you’re walking down the street, good day for you too, good self esteem. Happy with your outfit, happy with your hair. Feeling really good about yourself. It just takes that one tiny triIIp (trips) to just suck the coolness right outta ya. Can’t let that happen, as soon as that happens, you have to look back right away. (leans down to look at ground) Pebble. CAREFUL for the pebble I just tripped and it’s right there (points) SOMEONE SHOULD PUT SOME CONES THER’S A PEBBLE UP AHEAD. Or we go into the denial, we go into the…uh…I was gonna start running anyway, I didn’t trip. Just gonna run (applause) I’m runningggg, annnndddd I’mmmm done. That was all I needed. Stopped to tie my show a block ago (looks at watch) and now I’m back on schedule with that little jog. Like we’re fooling people across the way. Oh she tripped, no she was running. (looks at imaginary person) I thought she tripped, but she’s running. (giggles to self) She stopped. She did trip. YOU TRIPPED. (looks over) She tripped.
You ever walk into a plate glass window? (deep breath) Two things are happening there. Pain and embarrassment. But pain takes a backseat to embarrassment doesn’t it? No matter how much pain you’re in, if people are laughing, you just laugh along with them. Oh (holds eye) HAHAHAHA, Bam hahaha. I just slammed right into that thing. Isn’t that funny? It’s so clean and shinnnnnnyy. Someone should put a sticker or happy face or something, hahaha. Isn’t that funny? Oh my (takes hand off face) is that blood? HAHAHAHAHA. sad voice: I’m bleeding. Haha isn’t that funny, I’m bleeding. Oh my, can you help me find my eye? HAHAHAHAHA I lost my eye, HAHAHAHAHA, I cannot find my EYE. (looks around on ground) (audience laughter) It could be as big as that or as small as your with somebody and they’re singing a song that you love, and they sing lyrics you’ve never sung before. Suddenly you realize you’ve been singing the wrong words all along. You’re like, does he have it? Is that what you’re singing right there? Does he have it? Thinking to yourself, why have I been singing monkey hatchet? (laughter) how many people have heard me sing monkey hatchet? We all have songs we don’t know the words to, you know? Some songs you don’t even bother trying to learn the words to, cause nobody knows them. That that Aretha Franklin song, it’s been around a while. And we always get to that one part R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me, R-E-S-P-E-C-T uh tak ne te HO, sak a tu me, sak a tu me, sak a tu me. I don’t know. Certain songs, it’s weird that songs are hits and songs aren’t hits. Like that song Respect, of course you’d hear that and think that’s gonna be a smash hit cause it’s about respect and who doesn’t wanna sing along to that? But certain songs, you know, that Peter, Paul and Mary song, if I had a hammer. That was a huge hit. I don’t know why. I think that song was written for people who don’t have hammers. Cause before I had a hammer, I probably thought to myself, if I had a hammer, I would hammer in the morning, I’d hammer in the evening. I’d hammer all OVER this land, if I had a hammer. Once you get a hammer, you find out you don’t hammer as much as you think you would. (lots of applause)
I love music. Music is so important I think. It’s so powerful. You can be in one one mood, one state of mind, you hear a song, and it transports you, it changes your emotion. Just by hearing a song. And even with our ADD and our memory loss, you can hear a song that you loved in the fifth grade, and remember every single word to it. That’s how powerful music is. Certain songs, people respond differently to different music and because usually it tells a story that we relate to. And for me, mine is “Salt ‘N’ Pepa Shoop.” (audience applause) what a beautiful tale, well,
Here I go, here I go, here I go again (again?)
Girls, what’s my weakness? (Men!)
Ok then, chillin’, chillin’, mindin’ my business (word)
Yo, Salt, I looked around, and I couldn’t believe this
I swear, I stared, my niece my witness
The brother had it goin’ on with somethin’ kinda…uh
Wicked, wicked (oooo) — had to kick it
I’m not shy so I asked for the digits
A ho? No, that don’t make me
See what I want slip slide to it swifty
Felt it in my hips so I dipped back to my bag of tricks
Then I flipped for a tip, make me wanna do tricks for him
Lick him like a lollipop should be licked (audience cheer)
Came to my senses and I chilled for a bit
Don’t know how you do the voodoo that you do
So well it’s a spell, hell, makes me wanna shoop shoop shoop
So for me, that song. (audience cheering) That song tells my story, but everyone has a different one. I know the lyrics to that song, I know all the words. Cause it’s an older song, kind of. And it was on the radio all the time and I used to drive along, and I used to sing to it. And you didn’t hear about rode rage back then. People would drive and sing all the time. And that’s happening less and less now. Now people are multitasking while driving. You know, they’re driving and talking on the phone, or putting on makeup, or shaving. Which makes me so nervous when I see that leg (raises leg) up on the dash. We’re doing all these things to squeeze things together so we can save time. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have anymore time. I have less time. But let’s just say we could save up a whole chunk of time and set it aside. You know what we’d do with it? Nothing, nothing at all, isn’t that the point, to be able to do nothing at all? But we’re not guaranteed that later on chunk of time. All we have is here and now, and that’s why procrastination feels so right. (applause) Procrastination is not the problem. It is the solution. It is the universe’s way of saying, stop, slow down. You move too fast. Listen to the music. Whoa whoa, listen to the music. Because music makes the people come together, it makes the booshwa and the rebels, so (laugher) come on people now, smile on your brother, and everybody try to love one another. Because what the world needs now is love. Sweet love, and I know that love is a battlefield, but boogie on reggae woman because, you’re going to make it after all. Celebrate good times, come on. I’ve gotta stop. I’ve gotta come to my senses. I’ve been out riding fences for so long. Oops, I did it again. Um. (audience laughter and applause) What I’m trying to say is, if you leave here tonight, and you don’t remember anything else that I said, leave here and remember this, procrastinate NOW. Don’t put it off. (throws up peace sign) (audience cheer) Thank you. (nods) (standing ovation)
. . .
Ellen DeGeneres urges us to procrastinate now. She wants us to slow down and appreciate life. This message from DeGeneres seemed ironic at the time this stand up was performed. Why? As I mentioned before, Ellen DeGeneres had a busy year in 2003. She had just stared in a movie, had written a book and was starting her own show.
Following her HBO Comedy Special in 2003, DeGeneres has focused on her career and her personal life. DeGeneres has continued working on her very own television show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She has won many awards and been honored at various events, but she has made less guest appearances compared to before 2003. DeGeneres spent a lot of time focusing on her personal life, and married her girlfriend Portia de Rossi in 2008.
Yes, Ellen DeGeneres still lives a busy life, she has her own talk show for goodness sakes. But what really stands out about DeGeneres, is her ability to laugh at the little things, focus on the things she is truly passionate about, and find time to slow down. So remember…
PROCRASTINATE NOW. DON’T PUT IT OFF
- Lisa Iannucci, Ellen DeGeneres: A Biography (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2009).
- Author Unknown, “Coming Out episode of Ellen,” A&E Television Networks, 2015, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/coming-out-episode-of-ellen
- Author Unknown, “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” WebMD, 2015, http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/289350-overview
- Author Unknown, “Coffee Shops in Atlanta, Georgia,” Yellow Pages, 2015, http://www.yellowpages.com/atlanta-ga/coffee-shops
- Author Unknown, “Ellen DeGeneres Biography,” Encyclopedia of World Biography, Advameg, 2015, http://www.notablebiographies.com/news/Ca-Ge/DeGeneres-Ellen.html
- Brinda Adhikari and Enjoli Franci, “DeGeneres Reflects on Coming Out Episode 15 Years Later,” ABC News, ABC News Internet Ventures, 2015, http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/PersonOfWeek/ellen-degeneres-reflects-coming-episode-declaring-gay-15/story?id=16281248
- Steve Pavlina, “Overcoming Procrastination,” Steve Pavlina, Personal Development for Smart People, 2015, http://www.stevepavlina.com/articles/overcoming-procrastination.htm
- Ellen DeGeneres, Here and Now, video, 59:20:00, March 22, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_W9JZkHdCdA