Netflix Special “Relatable” Review
February 4, 2019
Starting down a career path full of twists and turns, Ellen DeGeneres has done just about everything to get to where she is now. From a tiny apartment to a grand stage, she’s seen just about everything and met just about everyone in the world of entertainment. One thing that has always kept her career alive is her humor and comedy.
On December 18th, 2018, Netflix released a comedy special called ‘Relatable,’ hosted by Ellen herself, bringing her back onto the stage of stand-up comedy. Relatable revolves around the idea of whether she, her experiences and jokes are still relatable or not. Many of her jokes during the show tie back into the main point of relatability. Ellen starts off the program with a simple story about telling her friend that she wants to do comedy again, which morphs into a long, humorous monologue about how she believes she’s still relatable, while in reality, she has been swept up in fame and fortune. Ellen describes a conversation she had with her friend, saying, “Well [my friend] said, ‘Do you still think you’re relatable?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I do think I’m still relatable…’ and he says, ‘But your life has changed so much,’ And I said, ‘I know, but I still think I’m relatable and..’ anyways, just then, Batu, my butler, stepped into the library.” Her first joke of the evening had already brought laughter roaring through the crowd, and it was only one minute into the special.
Ellen’s sense of humor is a mixture of dry, observational, and the occasional witty wordplay, and all are on display when she hit the stage. Her humor, especially in this show, is circled around funny stories that she has experienced throughout her life. The many stories that she told throughout the show had the crowd (and myself) in tears because of the punchline that it all lead up to. But the thing that I noticed sets her apart from other comedians is the way she incorporates heartwarming stories into her show as well. One part really struck me when she talked about her girlfriend dying in a car crash. She said she was just sitting in her apartment feeling hopeless, and that’s when she decided she would write down how she feels and turn it into comedy. It was really heart wrenching to listen to, because you don’t see Ellen as someone who has been through a traumatic experience like that. She always seems so cheerful and uplifting, and I’m sure that she is happy, but when she tells you about how empty she felt, it really hits home because almost everyone has felt that way at some point. It makes her feel more real. The humorous part of Ellen is something that we’re all used to, but when she actually opened up about her life, it paved a new path between her and her fans.
At the end of the special, after many minutes filled with laughter and giggles, her voice goes serious again and describes her coming out experience. This part is really what got me. She starts by talking about ‘signs’ life gives people and she says, “I didn’t even know I was struggling with coming out. I mean, whenever you’re closeted, you’re always thinking about it. It’s on your mind ‘cause you’re worried someone’s gonna find out, you’re worried someone’s gonna know. So it’s always on your mind, but I didn’t realize that until I had this dream.” Ellen describes a dream where she was holding a baby finch, her pet, and she had just put it back in it’s cage, which was a beautiful multi-tier, bamboo cage. She said that the bird then became herself when it went into the cage and it realized that it was up against a window all along, and the window was wide open and the bars were wide enough for the bird to fly out. And it had been the whole time. “I looked at the bird and I said, ‘Don’t leave, you’re safe in here.’ And the bird looked at me and said, ‘I don’t belong in here,’ and flew out… And the next morning I woke up and I said, ‘I’m coming out,’” Ellen described. After she told this story of her dream, the booming cheers from the crowd almost brought Ellen and myself to tears.
After describing her coming out journey more, saying how it was the hardest point in her life, but it taught her to face her fears head on, she ends the show by tying it all back to the beginning with one line. “We are all the same… and we are all relatable.”