32 Yrs Ago, Johnny Carson Introduced Ellen DeGeneres. Watch Her Hilarious 1986 Television Debut


My college roommate introduced me to the hilarity that is “The Ellen Show.” Of course, I had heard of Ellen DeGeneres, but I hadn’t spent a lot of time watching her show.

We turned on a short segment, and before we knew it, the two of us had spent hours laughing at Ellen’s jokes.

Some of my favorite moments on her show are when she scares her guests. Though I know that if I ever get interviewed by the talk show host, something might pop out of the box sitting in between the chairs.

It is hard to believe after 15 seasons and an uncountable number of celebrity guests on the show, Ellen had to get her start in comedy somewhere before working her way up to the famous talk show host she is now.

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Thirty-two years ago, comedian Johnny Carson introduced Ellen Degeneres to the world in an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

At just 27 years of age, Ellen confidently strolled onto the stage and said that she is 27 but people say she looks like she’s 23.

“I’m lucky because that runs in the family. My grandmother is 97, she looks about 93. I have a little nephew who’s four, he doesn’t even look like he’s been born yet.”

The audience laughed and Ellen joked that her grandmother started walking when she was 60 and they don’t know where she is anymore.

“I’m kidding … I kid a lot ’cause I’m a comedian,” she said.

In another story, Ellen told the audience that she asked her father for “a little dolly” for Christmas one year and he wheeled in “this tremendous metal thing.”

“No dad, that’s not what I meant. Have you ever tried to dress one of those things? It’s impossible.”

As a child, she said that she used to wonder what scared trees so badly that they turn into petrified wood.

In her final array of jokes, Ellen called up God to ask him about the purpose of “fleas.”

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“There are certain things on this Earth that I don’t understand why they’re here … like insects. No bees are great, the honey that’s clever. I was thinking about fleas they have no benefit … no I didn’t realize how many people were employed by the flea collar industry,” she said as she pretended to be on the phone with God.


After she was done with her act, Johnny Carson had her sit down with him and said, “That’s very clever and very fresh. I mean it, it’s good material.”

Ellen told him she had only been a comedian for four years. Little did the audience know at that time, but they had just met one of the biggest talk show hosts in television history.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith