Queer On Demand: Ellen Degeneres: Here and Now | Buzz Blog

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Queer On Demand: Ellen Degeneres: Here and Now

Posted By on November 10, 2009, 5:30 AM

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Now available: Ellen Degeneres: Here and Now (2003)

Synopsis: Ellen Degeneres delivers sixty minutes of standup, pointedly avoiding the whole gay issue. ---

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

How to navigate: Select > On Demand | HBO On Demand | HBO Specials | Comedy | Ellen: Here and Now

Remarks: The first time I watched Ellen Degeneres, it was on one of those cable-TV comedy-hour programs that were ubiquitous in the 1980s. Basically her act was to start from some ordinary thought or phrase, and then follow a series of extrapolations to an absurd conclusion -- expressing astonishment and chagrin when that conclusion conflicted with the generally accepted view.

It was brilliant! Her optimism and self-deprecation made me feel she was a kindred spirit.

It was long before she came out -- it was back in the days when out-of-the-closet celebrities were a novelty. Sure, she pinged my gaydar, but that was beside the point. I just loved her talent for verbalizing things normally left unspoken, and in such a good-natured way.

That being said, Here and Now is not my favorite. Degeneres' one-hour monologue is remarkably well-organized, framed as a jeremiad about procrastination. Maybe it's just a little too structured for my tastes; it seems to lack Ellen's signature spontaneous whimsy. Also, I've never been able to figure out what that recitation of Salt-N-Pepa's "Shoop" was all about.

She also seems a bit hostile toward the idea of being any kind of gay icon; after a preemptive joke, she dismisses the gay issue entirely as if fearful of being cast as a "lesbian comedian." It's probably got something to do with the way she was screwed over by the network when she came out during an episode of her sitcom; presumably she's over it now, though.

There are many other of Degeneres' routines that are more enjoyable. This one's OK, though -- watch it if you haven't seen it before.  

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