Ellen opens up about the heart breaking tragedy that launched her career

goss 15/03/2018

Ellen DeGeneres has opened up to her friend Dax Shepard about some of the darker moments in her life which led her, ironically, to the world of comedy. 

The talk show host was for once on the receiving end of an interview, appearing on Shepard's podcast Armchair Expert to describe the highs and lows of her early days in the comedy world. 

DeGeneres revealed to the Parenthood actor the death of her girlfriend in a car accident when she was only 20 inspired the comedy routine which led to her big break. 

"My girlfriend was killed in a car accident when I was like 20 years old," she said, recounting that she was waitressing so they could afford to live together. 

"[After her death] I couldn't afford to live where we were living together and so I moved into this tiny little basement apartment in New Orleans. 

"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?'"

She told Shepard she thought "it would be amazing if we could just pick up the phone and call up God and ask questions and get an answer".

This thought processs inspired her 'Phone Call to God' routine - the set she performed on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1986.

DeGeneres made history as the only woman in the show's history to get "asked to the couch", which kickstarted her career.