Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


Ellen Degeneres: The Psychology Of Why Everyone Loves Her

Ellen's agenda isn't what you might expect.

Let's be honest: there's a reason why Ellen Degeneres has her own talk show. Spend an hour with her, and you get the feeling that you're hanging out at her pajama party, throwing her arms around your shoulder as you toss your head back and laugh. It goes without saying that people like this funny lady because she makes them laugh. But that's not all: her secret ingredient to keeping people interested is that she makes them think. In her new book, Seriously...I'm Kidding, she shows what a master she's become at her own brand of comic reflection with a cause.

Ellen's new book is chock-full of random reflections, and each chapter calls for at least one throaty laugh from readers. But what is so dynamic about Ellen's comedy is that it has an agenda that is sophisticatedly veiled. First, she makes us laugh about the most peculiar, idiosyncratic subject, but ultimately flips the random reflection into a sleek social commentary: that we, as a society, for example, must become kinder, slow down, and develop some hobbies that feed the soul. Unlike Jerry Seinfeld who tends to focus more exclusively on the silly or the absurd, Ellen adds a sociopolitical commentary.

The art of it is that she doesn't annoy us when she does it. When Ellen expresses her social views, she doesn't do it in a preachy, holier-than-thou manner. She broadcasts a live-and-let-live message, and talks proudly but not self-indulgently about her own personal life. There's an aw-shucks quality to her demeanor, and the silliness she's drawn to in her humor reminds us that we don't have to take ourselves too seriously, either.

In a quick word association game, the first word that may come to find when you think of Ellen is "funny." But Ellen is really much more than that: she's the simultaneous embodiment of not taking herself too seriously and valuing her opinions about life enough to voice them. We could all use that lesson, to have more fun and to speak up about the things we care about, no matter how high-brow or silly they may be.

Feel free to explore my book on dysfunctional relationships, Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve, or follow me on Twitter!

More from Seth Meyers Psy.D.
More from Psychology Today