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The program combines comedy, celebrity, musical guests, and human-interest stories. The program often features audience participation games where prizes are awarded. During her Twelve Days of Giveaways promotion, audience members receive roughly $3,000 worth of prizes on each of twelve episodes. Because the show has become so popular, not all who arrive hoping to see a taping can fit into the studio, so an offshoot space, dubbed by Tom Hanks "The Riff Raff Room", was created. Persons seated here are often referenced and shown briefly on camera but watch the taping from off-stage. Other non-celebrities have been featured in an attempt by DeGeneres to give them 15 minutes of fame. Guests in this role have included intelligent children, small business owners, etc. In the show's third season, DeGeneres began surprising fans by introducing them to their favorite celebrities.
Ellen DeGeneres in 2004
Several recurring sounds, gags, and catchphrases are used by DeGeneres depending on the topic of discussion or theme for a specific episode. For example, after DeGeneres says the phrase, "Aww Snap!", a sound effect of a whip cracking often is played. In her monologue, DeGeneres frequently thanks the audience's applause by saying "I feel the same way about you!" Other video segments include DeGeneres scaring people, playing pranks, taking part in faux-breaking news segments, interacting with crew members, etc. Other recurring segments include those where DeGeneres comments on Internet videos, tabloid-style photographs of celebrities, advertisements on Craigslist, or voicemails left for her on an answering machine. Some segments feature audience members more prominently, including having audience members show hidden talents, pictures of others that resemble DeGeneres, interviewing children, etc.
DeGeneres frequently plays games with audience members and awards prizes based upon their performance. Games have included Pictionary-style drawing games, finding hidden objects within the studio, category, current event or pop-culture-based trivia, and various other stunt and charade-based games. DeGeneres also joked several times on the show about when a sequel to Finding Nemo, in which she famously had a lead role, would eventually release, as well as make references to the film. Eventually, the sequel, Finding Dory, was officially announced by DeGeneres.
Segments (including former and recurring)
The show has many recurring segments throughout the years. Some include:
Oh Hair No! is a segment that involves fans sending DeGeneres their funny haircuts, some of which appear on the show.
Know or Go is a segment involving three audience members (as contestants) who answer questions based on different topics such as Thanksgiving, current events. Upon an incorrect answer, the contestant gets dropped through a trapdoor. The remaining contestant will have to answer 3 questions correct in a row in order to win the game.
Clumsy Thumbsy is a segment in which Ellen shows messed up auto corrects sent in by fans.
Oh Puh-lice is a segment in which odd police reports are shown.
Ellen's Dance Dare is a segment in which viewers send videos of themselves secretly dancing behind oblivious people. Irish jigs were featured on the 2012 St. Patrick's Day episode. Many celebrities have participated such as Emma Stone, Zac Efron, Lilly Singh, The Janoskians and Taylor Swift.
Bad Paid-for Tattoos Odd, usually misspelled body art is displayed.
A Little Yelp From My Friends Ellen reads reviews from the website Yelp.
"What's Wrong with These Photos?" Photos Silly photos sent in by viewers are featured.
"What Were They Thinking?" Audience Dancing Audience members are shown dancing with voices acting out the dancers' thoughts.
"What's Wrong with These Signs?" Signs Viewers send Ellen pictures of signs that aren't quite right.
Tony Karaoke is a segment that features the show's DJ, Tony, singing often wrong-but-hilarious lyrics to popular songs.
Tea Time with Sophia Grace and Rosie is a segment in which Sophia Grace & Rosie interview celebrity guests on the show, all while enjoying cookies and tea.
ApPARENTly Confused is a segment in which Ellen shows messages written by parents who don't understand texting and technology.
In Your FACEbook is a segment in which Ellen shares funny Facebook photos taken from the profile pages of audience members.
Weekly Tweetly Roundup is a segment in which Ellen shares funny and interesting tweets.
Classic Joke Thursday is a segment in which Ellen shares funny jokes/puns, usually in a conversation with the show's DJ.
This Plus That is a segment in which a montage of dancing audience members is shown usually combined with humorous sound effects.
Just KID-ink is a segment in which Ellen shares funny drawings from kids.
INSTA-grammification is a segment in which Ellen shares funny and unusual pictures from the show's Instagram page.
"Vine After Vine" is a segment in which Ellen shares funny 6-second video clips from the popular mobile app Vine.
"Grand Design" an online segment in which Ellen, with presenters and home makeover experts the "Kitchen Cousins" John Colaneri and Anthony Carrino would redesign a room in just 24 hours on a budget of $1,000.
"What Have YOU Been Up to on Facebook?" is a recurring segment in which Ellen reveals some personal and private information of the public to the audience.
"Starbucks Prank!" is a recurring segment in which Ellen sends popular celebrities out to Starbucks to prank the cashiers.
"What The Heck Are These Kids Talking About?" is a former segment in which Ellen reviews rap lyrics and tries to figure out what they mean.
"Celebrity Pranks!" is a segment in which Ellen often scares Taylor Swift (as she falls for it the most) and other famous celebrities.
"Chat Time With Ellen!" is a talk-show segment in which Ellen talks about--or to--people who have made viral videos.
Can Andy Say That? is a segment in which Ellen has the show's executive producer, Andy Lassner, repeat funny phrases that are filled with double entendres and sexual innuendo.
Haunted House (the segment is actually untitled) is an annual segment in which Ellen sends her writer, Amy Rhodes, to various haunted houses in the days leading up to Halloween. In later years, Amy was joined in the haunted houses by her own mother, as well as the show's executive producer Andy Lassner. After Andy's stint going through with Amy, Ellen has made him go through every year, replacing Amy after she left the show. He's been joined by other Ellen staff members as well as celebrities like Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Paulson, and DeGeneres's wife Portia de Rossi (as well as others) have also been sent to a haunted house.
Average Andy is a segment in which Ellen sends her executive producer Andy Lassner to learn new skills from the world's most talented people.
Throwback Thursday is a segment in which every Thursday Ellen revisits funny moments from previous seasons.
"Who's In My Bushes?" is a segment in which a celebrity is hidden in decorative bushes in which Ellen will ask questions to that celebrity and eventually comes out when figured. However, during this segment, Ellen already knows who the celebrity is and the audience will just play along.
Take That, China! is a segment in which Ellen makes jokes about impractical and often unwise American inventions.
Breaking News is a segment in which news anchor Devin Scillian interrupts the show and delivers unusually mundane, humorous breaking news.
Why I Don't Have Kids is a segment in which Ellen shows pictures or videos sent in by viewers of crazy situations they have encountered with their kids.
Epic or Fail is a segment considered to be Ellen's favorite game, in which Ellen shows several stunts or tricks caught on tape, and when the videos are paused, Ellen, the audience, guest celebrities and Twitch have to guess the ending's outcome.
Hot Hands is a game in which some audience member or celebrities get on a special seat and name the celebrities which are shown on the screen as much as possible in 30 seconds.
5 Second Rule is a game in which Ellen and celebrity contestants have to think on their feet and list three answers that fall into a given category in only five seconds.
Ellen In Your Ear is a segment in which celebrity interact with unsuspecting people, where Ellen instructing the celebrities through remote ear piece.
Ask Dr. Dax is a segment in which Dax Shepard gives relationship advice to audience members, while often telling stories about his own experiences.
What's In The Box? is a segment in which Ellen gives out gifts through boxes, curtains and small games such as three-card monte. Gifts can include iPads, watches and even holidays
Hubba Hubba Quiz Quiz is a segment in which Ellen questions men.
Don't Leave Me Hanging is a game in which Ellen questions people. If they get a strike, they get lifted into the air. If they get three strikes, they get lifted all the way to the top.
Ellen, Rate My Baby is a segment in which Ellen rates pictures of babies sent in by her viewers from a scale of 1-10 (She goes over 10, e.g. 17/10)
Make it Rain is a game in which two (usually male) celebrities have to answer questions. If they answer correctly they get a chance to stand under one of several umbrellas and pull a string. One of the umbrellas releases money, which goes to a charity of the winner's choice. The other umbrellas release water, which ends up making the celebrity wet.
Me Me Monday is a segment in which Ellen shows a collection of funny memes and comments on them.
Danger Word is a word association game reminiscent of Password, where audience members must guess a word from clues without saying the titular "danger word" (such as "cereal" being the danger word for "Cheerios"). If the player guesses the winning word, the opponent gets a strike and gets sprayed by one of the cannons. If a person guesses the danger word, that person gets a strike and gets sprayed.
Thank GIF It's Friday is a segment in which Ellen shows GIF's that people post on the Internet. She shows these on Fridays.
One-Eyed Monster is a game in which two player took turns entering the monster's mouth where they will be questioned by Ellen. The answer itself ranged from 0-5. For each number the contestant is off, he or she must pull one of the monster's teeth. However, one of the monster's tooth will cause the monster jaw to snap shut.
The Masked Dancer is a segment parodying the series The Masked Singer (to which Ellen notes that Fox had not sued her yet), where Ellen and tWitch attempt to guess the identity of a mystery guest concealed with a costume mask. Actual Masked Singer panelist Ken Jeong made an appearance as a guest judge on one episode. In January 2020, it was announced that Fox and Warner Bros. would produce The Masked Dancer as an official spin-off, with DeGeneres as executive producer.
Heads Up! is a game that DeGeneres plays with other celebrities. Originally, the game had players guess words or phrases on physical cards held to their foreheads by watching the other players act it out or give hints as time counted down. Later, DeGeneres and Warner Bros. Entertainment developed an app version of the game. The app became a huge success after its May 2013 launch, rising to the top of the App Store with over 650,000 downloads during its first month. By July 2016, it had been downloaded more than 25 million times and remained one of Apple's top-paid apps.
Since the show's debut, DeGeneres has segued from her opening monologue by doing a dance. The dancing proved to be extremely popular with viewers, and has since progressed to a segment where DeGeneres dances into the audience, sometimes borrowing a coat or purse from someone's chair, and taking it with her. She has also featured a segment in which people teach her new dance moves.
One of her most famous dance moves is dancing over the table, where she straddles the coffee table and dances from one end to the other. Although she does not do it every day, dancing over the table is a recurring theme. As an April Fools' Day prank in 2009, the show's staff placed a wider table top over her normal table. During the show, when DeGeneres attempted to dance over it, she barely made it across, being forced on her tip-toes and using the table as leverage. On the seventh-season premiere, DeGeneres performed a dance segment with the cast of So You Think You Can Dance.
In September 2009, four major record labels sued the producers of the show for unspecified damages over the dance routine, for allegedly using songs without permission.
DeGeneres's mother, Betty, attends the show regularly and is frequently featured on camera.
From 2003 to early 2008, the program was originally taped in Studio 11 at NBC Studios in Burbank, California. It is now filmed in Studio 1 (named "The Ellen Stage" since her 2,000th show, which took place in November 2015) on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank.
The executive producers are DeGeneres, Mary Connelly, Ed Glavin, Andy Lassner, and (until his death in 2012) Jim Paratore. The writing staff has included Karen Kilgariff (former head writer), Karen Anderson, Margaret Smith, and DeGeneres. Margaret Smith left the show to work on her own projects, including her first book, What Was I Thinking? How Being a Stand Up Did Nothing to Prepare Me to Become a Single Mother (Crossroad Publishing, 2008). Amy Rhodes, a former writer for the program, regularly appeared on camera during various segments.
Unlike most talk shows, the show uses a disc jockey to supply music rather than a band. Originally, the role was filled by Los Angeles-based DJ Scott K, who lasted only a few weeks. He was later replaced by Tony Okungbowa, who DJed through season 3. Due to his growing acting career, Okungbowa left the show, and a few guest DJs were brought in to try out for the position. Tony was replaced by actor/DJ Jon Abrahams for the fourth-season premiere. Abrahams stayed on the show for one season, and also left as his acting career grew. Ted Stryker of KROQ, was the DJ for the fifth season. Stryker stayed for one season until Okungbowa returned. In a 2012 episode, DJ Pauly D from Jersey Shore deejayed when Okungbowa was promoting his CD.
It was explained to me that no other daytime shows have shut down. I've got 135 employees that rely on me for a paycheck. But it's been the hardest thing in the world driving onto this lot.
DeGeneres decided to abstain from doing a monologue on her show (which is typically written by WGA writers) during the strike. Her show continued production as normal with the exception of her monologue being omitted. The WGAE issued a statement condemning DeGeneres, stating she was "not welcome in NY." DeGeneres's representatives asserted that she did not violate the WGA's agreement, arguing that she is competing with other first-run syndicated shows like Dr. Phil and Live with Regis and Kelly during the competitive November sweeps period, and that DeGeneres must fulfill her duties as host and producer, lest her show lose its time slot or be held in breach of contract. In addition, a statement defending DeGeneres was subsequently issued by AFTRA, pointing out that DeGeneres also works under the AFTRA TV Code, which bars her from striking. The WGAE then issued a response pointing out that DeGeneres is also a Writers Guild member, and that any writing work she did on her show during the strike constituted struck work.
It was announced that starting March 16, 2020, that the taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be without an audience. Since April 6, 2020, the show has been produced from her home.
On April 16, 2020, Variety reported that crew members had accused the show of not communicating about their pay during the pandemic-induced shutdown.
Toxic work environment allegations
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July 2020)
On July 16, 2020, an article on BuzzFeed News was posted where 10 anonymous former employees accused the show of promoting a toxic work environment. Accusations included firing after taking medical leave or bereavement days to attend family funerals, as well as racist comments and microaggressions by staff. One employee stated, "That 'be kind' bullshit only happens when the cameras are on. It's all for show. I know they give money to people and help them out, but it's for show."
On July 27, 2020, it was announced that WarnerMedia would begin an internal investigation of the workplace of the show following the allegations.
Sexual misconduct allegations
On July 31, 2020, executive producers Kevin Leman and Ed Glavin were accused of sexual misconduct in an article by BuzzFeed.
Several episodes have aired with a special theme or format, including a "Backwards Show", entire episodes themed around Broadway productions, a Thanksgiving special taped in the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City, an entire episode which included Deltalina filmed on a Delta airplane, her 12 Days of Giveaways shows and Ellen's Birthday Show. Other recurring themes feature products from sponsors DeGeneres likes (similar to Oprah's Favorite Things from the now ended The Oprah Winfrey Show), specials following awards show telecasts (such as the Academy Awards), and numerous milestone episodes (e.g., DeGeneres's 1,000th, 1,300th, 1,500th, etc. broadcasts). In 2017, an episode aired commemorating the 20th anniversary of "The Puppy Episode", the episode of her sitcom Ellen, in which her character Ellen Morgan came out as a lesbian.
On January 11, 2013, DeGeneres announced that she was going to Australia in March with her wife, Australian actress Portia de Rossi, after having wanted to go for many years, being unable to visit in summer (which she preferred) due to taping conflicts of her show. Toward the end of the episode, which featured Nicole Kidman as a guest, she announced to the audience that they will also be going on a holiday to Australia in a giveaway special.
From time to time a guest host fills in for DeGeneres. This was previously quite rare, but gradually became more common, especially in recent seasons, and is now considered a regular part of the show.
Ellie Kemper filled in to be the first guest host on the show on January 24, 2014, as DeGeneres was unable to host the show due to sickness. Kemper hosted for a second time on December 24, 2018. Kemper hosted for a third time on December 23, 2019.
Miley Cyrus took over as host on September 29, 2016, which was also day four of the 7th Annual Cat Week, as DeGeneres was sick.
Sean Hayes hosted the show on May 30, 2018 while DeGeneres was in Africa visiting the gorillas in Rwanda to help with the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Camp. He hosted for a second time on October 4, 2019. He hosted for a third time on October 18, 2019. He hosted for a fourth time on January 31, 2020. He hosted for a fifth time on February 28, 2020. He hosted for a sixth time on March 13, 2020. He hosted for a seventh time on March 30, 2020
Ellen's DJ Stephen "tWitch" Boss hosted the episode that aired May 23, 2019. (It was likely filmed at an earlier date as a clip was posted online three weeks earlier, on May 3, 2019, showing a segment where he interviewed Kunal Nayyar.) Boss hosted for a second time on September 6, 2019. He hosted for a third time on October 11, 2019. He hosted for a fourth time on October 24, 2019.
Jennifer Aniston hosted on January 24, 2020. Aniston was the very first guest ever on the talkshow and had previously co-hosted with Ellen several years ago, but this was her first time solo hosting.
A best-of DVD titled The Ellen DeGeneres Show: DVD-Licious was released in 2006, featuring early footage from the first few seasons.
The show is active on a number of social media platforms, including Twitter, where Ellen has over 70 million followers, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, and more. The talk show's YouTube channel is in the top 20 most-subscribed YouTube channels.
The show has been met with considerable success, and has won 61 Daytime Emmy Awards by 2019. Additionally, as the show's popularity has increased, the program has appeared as a plot element in the storylines of several scripted television programs, including Joey, Six Feet Under, and The Bernie Mac Show, among others.
The show averages around 4.2+ million viewers per episode, according to syndicated daytime television ratings, making it a highly viewed daytime show. It usually only trails behind Live with Kelly and Ryan, and Dr. Phil in total viewers. In 2017, the show passed Live with Kelly and Ryan for the first time and trailed behind Dr. Phil.
In December 2019, NBC aired a three-night event series spun off from the "12 Days of Giveaways", Ellen's Greatest Night of Giveaways, which featured DeGeneres collaborating with notable celebrities and public figures to " deliver incredible gifts to unsuspecting people".