Ellen DeGeneres
The Beginning
Stand-up Comedy DVD
HBO 2000
65 minutes

The Beginning is a bit of a misnomer for an Ellen DeGeneres stand-up comedy DVD. Though it is her first HBO comedy special it was taped well into her career and three years after she came out on her sitcom.

DeGeneres already had a solid, and hard to find now, CD, Taste This! under her belt as well as many years experience on the comedy stage. Personally, I prefer her second DVD, Here And Now, but The Beginning is still pretty good.

Ellen DeGeneres The Beginning starts out with an interpretive dance number about her coming out. This comedian is no dancer and you have to see the number a couple of times to figure it out but you have to admit it is a clever way to get the issue out of the way before she can move on to doing the kind of basically clean (a couple of F words) stand-up material that is her forte.

This stand-up comic specializes in comedy about the little things of life such as instructions and the 800 hotline number hotline on shampoo bottles, houseflies, and spiders.

The material may seem simple but DeGeneres is clever at finding the absurd in the absurd such as the woman who calls the shampoo 800 number for instructions after being raised by wolves. Her houseflies routine is really original and funny and segues neatly into a bit on spiders and eating veal.

If you enjoy misdirection, DeGeneres is very good at it and there are quite a few moments on The Beginning where it is used cleverly. Her bit on getting older is not the best on the topic but quite enjoyable though her quiet place bit and her take on health food stores is quite funny.

She sneaks in a rather funny bit about adult toys and being caught naked blowing an inflatable toy that will surprise those who believe she is a nice, clean stand-up.

She also has an adult bit about people videotaping their sexual exploits. The show really closes with a bit of a reprise of her classic phone call to God routine that got her on The Tonight Show.

This time DeGeneres gets to visit God in person and her take on his waiting room is certainly original and funny, “Picture of Jesus at the beach wearing a t-shirt that says ‘My parents created the universe and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.'”  She does a nice spin on the footsteps on the beach classic Christian image. Her ability to mix the comic and serious in this bit as well as a great callback makes this bit the highlight of the show.

The weak point of this stand-up comedy DVD and HBO special is the questions from the audience add-on. Much as I would dislike a Christian comic testifying at the end of his show I also disliked this section. Skip it


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