During an interview with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres on Tuesday's NBC "Today," co-host Ann Curry asked: "If you're standing up and saying things, no matter what people may say or what some people may judge, then why are you so popular and successful?" DeGeneres replied: "Beats me. Like they do know I'm gay, right? Like, I'm gay, and yet, you know, we can't pass a vote to have marriage equality."
Curry touted: "During the five months in 2008 when same-sex marriage was legal in California, Ellen tied the knot with her girlfriend, actress Portia DeRossi." Later, Curry said of DeGeneres: "...this she does know, there is too much judgment in the world. And buried within her humor is a lesson of acceptance."
At the end of the segment, Curry promoted DeGeneres's new book and observed: "That's what this book is really about, 'Seriously, I'm kidding.' It's like inside all of these really funny bits are...kind of lessons really, little thoughts that really kind of guide us to be better people."
During the interview, Curry portrayed DeGeneres as a victim of discrimination: "That honesty has cost her, especially in 1997, when she famously came out of the closet....Only to have Hollywood shut the door. Advertisers pulled out, within a year her sitcom was canceled, her career stopped cold."
Here is a full transcript of the October 4 segment:
ANN CURRY: Ellen DeGeneres just kicked off her talk show's ninth season, she also has her own record label, production company, a vegan blog, and she's also a model for Covergirl. So what does she do in her spare time? Well, Ellen now has written her third book, it's called, "Seriously, I'm Kidding." And recently we met up with her in her Los Angeles home to discuss humor, happiness, Jesus, and the weather.
ELLEN DEGENERES: Laugh like crazy, Ann. Ann, start laughing like crazy. Just stay silent. Don't talk to him. Stare at him. Just stare at him. Put the mike closer to her mouth. Really, right up against her mouth. Put it right up against her mouth.
CURRY: Ellen DeGeneres takes her silly seriously.
DEGENERES: Mess it up.
CURRY: And I'm caught up in her latest off-the-wall scheme to get a laugh. These tourists think I'm reporting for the "Today" show. But Ellen's in my ear, pulling all the strings. Now I'm doing The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
DEGENERES: And you're on it right now.
CURRY: I had the earbud in my ear and I got a sense of what is happening inside your mind, and I'm wondering, what possessed you to tell me to put a microphone basically in-
DEGENERES: You didn't do it as hard as I hoped you would. I was hoping you'd actually made their lips where they had to keep talking. And then I thought, 'Why didn't I tell her to do it up against the nose.' Sometimes when the mike is too close, people keep backing away. Put it against the side of her cheek.
My observation of human behavior is why I started doing standup. The first jokes that I ever wrote were, you know, somebody tastes something that tastes bad, they always want you to taste it immediately. They're like this is disgusting taste it. Taste how bad it is though.
CURRY: Her inside humor and 'aw shucks' charm have earned Ellen and her show more than 50 Emmys. Watching her artfully chat up guest after guest, few might imagine that she's actually quite shy. Reading your book, I get the distinct impression that while you may be this famous talk show host you are a private person. Maybe even shy?
DEGENERES: I'm an introvert for sure, as I have a career despite myself. Because I really am awkward socially. I hate going to big events, I hate having to do small talk. I don't like a lot of attention.
CURRY: It's bold of you, being an introvert, to not only do this show, but to also put yourself out there, realizing that not everybody's going to like it.
DEGENERES: If it costs me, you know, some viewers and if it costs me some money I'd rather talk about what I think is important than just be, you know, vanilla and try to be liked by everybody.
CURRY: That honesty has cost her, especially in 1997, when she famously came out of the closet.
DEGENERES: I'm gay.
CURRY: Only to have Hollywood shut the door. Advertisers pulled out, within a year her sitcom was canceled, her career stopped cold.
DEGENERES: I don't think it was a failure, but it certainly gave me a lot of free time for three years to sit still and go, 'Okay, who am I without a career? Who am I without people loving me?'
CURRY: Did you feel that you had made a mistake in coming out?
DEGENERES: Absolutely no. Absolutely not.
DEGENERES: It's the best – because I'm free. I'm completely able to be exactly who I am. To have to hide anything is just a horrible way to live.
CURRY: If you're standing up and saying things, no matter what people may say or what some people may judge, then why are you so popular and successful?
DEGENERES: Beats me. Like they do know I'm gay, right? Like, I'm gay, and yet, you know, we can't pass a vote to have marriage equality, so there's opinions about who I am, but yet they like me.
CURRY: During the five months in 2008 when same-sex marriage was legal in California, Ellen tied the knot with her girlfriend, actress Portia DeRossi. You say she is the most important person in your life.
DEGENERES: She said something when we got married that, 'It is important to be loved. It is profound to be understood, and that's what I get from her. She supports me, and loves me. She gets me like nobody's ever gotten me.
CURRY: Wow, this is a serious garden. The couple shares this three-acre compound, Ellen's tenth home in ten years. Now this house is on the market.
DEGENERES: I love houses. I love architecture. I like that feeling of creating a new space. I get bored very easily, so I need to stay stimulated and that's one of the ways I stay stimulated, is design. We have a bunch of fish in here and they all have different names that Portia can tell you.
CURRY: With a koi pond, a vegetable garden, and the aroma of incense, their home exudes tranquility, and Ellen, who admits she has trouble sitting still, is learning to meditate. What is it that makes you remain consistent in your downward-dogging yoga, vegan-eating, feel-the-burn workout? I mean...
DEGENERES: Because it – isn't this just beautiful weather, by the way? I love this weather, it's not like this in L.A. ever. This is just, you know – I miss seasons. It feels like we're having a season right now, just we have an hour of a season.
CURRY: This is – in L.A. this is a season.
DEGENERES: It's a beautiful season. Because it feels good, kind of like, you know, when you have to kind of shut your computer down, just sometimes when it goes crazy, you just shut it down and when you turn it on it's okay again. That's what meditation is for me.
CURRY: Ellen says while meditating hasn't given her all the answers, this she does know, there is too much judgment in the world. And buried within her humor is a lesson of acceptance. In this book you say, "I actually think if Jesus were alive today there would be polls about him in 'US Weekly.'"
DEGENERES: If Jesus were alive today, there would for sure be polls about, should he cut his hair? You know, is that a nice robe? Didn't he wear that to the last event? That's the society we live in. You can't tell me that that wouldn't happen today. We do it to everyone.
CURRY: She's so fun. And we want to thank her for her hospitality. But that's what this book is really about, "Seriously, I'm kidding." It's like inside all of these really funny bits are these little bits of sort of – I think they're really kind of lessons really, little thoughts that really kind of guide us to be better people.
MATT LAUER: I've always been impressed by how smart she is. She is really, really smart. I think a lot of comedians are extremely smart, but she's always impressed me.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Her observations are so simple but they're so charming and hilarious, I think that's why people do really respond to her.
AL ROKER: Ten houses in ten years? That's amazing.
CURRY: She moved around a lot when she was little and her parents never really bought a house. In fact, I think one of her parents was in real estate, so they would go and look at all these different houses and she'd always be thinking, 'Okay, I'll have that room,' and they never moved in. So, I think for her it's always kind of that journey.
GUTHRIE: Full employment for the moving company in Los Angeles.
CURRY: Yeah, exactly.