Ellen DeGeneres is opening up about one of the most tragic losses in her life.
During an interview on Dax Shepard‘s Armchair Expert podcast on Tuesday (March 13), the 60-year-old TV host opened up about her time before making it big in TV, when she used to struggle to make ends meet in New Orleans and shared that her then-girlfriend was tragically killed in a car accident.
“My girlfriend was killed in a car accident when I was like 20 years old,” Ellen revealed. “And I wasn’t doing comedy, I think I was probably waitressing someplace at the time. I was living with her when she was killed.”
“I couldn’t afford to live where we were living together and so I moved into this tiny little basement apartment,” Ellen remembered. “I moved into this basement apartment and I was sleeping on a mattress on a floor and it was infested with fleas. And I used to write all the time, I wrote poetry and songs and stuff, and I thought, ‘Why is this beautiful 21-year-old girl just gone and fleas are here?’”
Ellen then went on share that her girlfriend’s death resulted in the material for her first-ever stand-up performance, changing her life forever.
“I just thought it would be amazing if we could just pick up the phone and call up God and ask questions and get an answer,” Ellen said about her famous “Phone Call to God” bit. “It just unfolded, I just wrote the entire thing and when I finished, I read it and I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s hilarious. I’m going to do this on Johnny Carson and I’m going to be the first woman in the history of the show be asked to sit down.’”
Fast forward to 1986, Ellen appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and became the first ever female comedian to be invited to sit down on Johnny’s couch after a stand-up routine.