Seriously…I’m Kidding

 Biography of the Author

Ellen DeGeneres was born in Metairie, Louisiana on January 26th, 1958. She went on to study at the University of New Orleans and realized that she wasn’t book smart and her passion did not lay in education but in entertainment. Throughout her life, DeGeneres made strides in television from her humble beginnings as a standup comedian. In 1986, she was the first female comedian to be invited on the Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson. Ellen DeGeneres expanded her career becoming an author and writing three books titled, My Point…and I have one, Seriously…I’m Kidding, and Home. She went on to star in numerous movies and television series including the comedy Mr. Wrong and became the voice of the popular Disney film Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. In 1994, she became the star of her own sitcom titled “Ellen”, where she famously became the first woman in history to come out as gay on television. Soon after releasing the episode, the show was canceled due to negative criticism despite the amount of applause she also received. Since then she has become a huge activist for the LGBTQ community (Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2018) . On August 16th, 2008, Ellen DeGeneres married her fiancé, actress Portia de Rossi. Later that year, she became the new face of CoverGirl and has been a spokesmodel for them ever since. DeGeneres has hosted the Grammy’s, Emmy’s, and the Academy Awards twice and has received recognition from all three. In November of 2016, Barack Obama awarded Ellen DeGeneres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her courage in the public eye. Along with being an activist for the LGBTQ community, she also is an activist for animals. For her 60th birthday, her wife Portia created a wildlife sanctuary called Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Rwanda, the first initiative of the new Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund (Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2018). Currently, she hosts her own daytime television talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and tremendously impacts lives every day.


Themes

Empowerment

Comedy

Positivity

Optimism

Courage


Reviews of the Text 

Book Published – October 4th, 2011

        National Public Radio wrote a positive review on October 6th of 2011, two days after the book was released. The article talked about how her book addresses relevant issues in a quote that stated, “The celebrity conversation in this country may never cease, but DeGeneres is doing her part to give it some desperately needed dignity — and to make it more fun to listen to” (NPR). In another article written by Kirkus Reviews on August 21st, 2011 two months before the public had access to the story, DeGeneres’ work was praised for its humor.  One of the quotes from the article claimed, “The doyenne of afternoon comedy returns with more quirky reflections on life” (Kirkus Reviews) talking about her work as a comedian and author.

        One month after the book was published, on November 10th that same year, Annenberg Digital Reviews from The University of Southern California shared that they believed DeGeneres is,   “Effortlessly funny and true to herself, which makes this book, in turn, an effortlessly fun Read” (Annenberg Digital Reviews).  Following the publication of the USC review, the Maclean’s Review posted a critique on November 22nd of 2011 that included more of an analysis of the novel. Although this was a mixed review with short amounts of distaste for DeGeneres’ writing, it is concluded with a positive quote,  “As an extension of her talk-show personality, Seriously.. .I’m Kidding is a success” (Maclean’s Review). Betty Lytle from News OK Reviews claimed that “Her [DeGeneres’] message is love, freedom, of thought and inspiration” in a short analysis on December 25th almost three months after the book’s publication date. 

        The overwhelming amount of positive reviews for this book is a representation of how society accepts individuality, humor, and women in media. Since the book was written by a member of the LGBTQ community, the fact that it was widely praised by a diverse audience demonstrates a shift from a close-minded society to a more welcoming community. DeGeneres’ fearless personality that leaked through the pages, opened doors for writers to create work that went against society’s ideals in 2011 and on.


Summary of the Text

Ellen DeGeneres’ third book, Seriously…I’m Kidding, makes the reader feel as though they are sitting and having coffee with the comedian. Her work is upbeat and positive as she follows her own writing style shifting from personal anecdotes to streams of consciousness. She writes about informal topics that focus on little things like Twitter but also includes more meaningful messages like the power of women. DeGeneres is influential in her writing by encouraging younger girls to chase their dreams and make an impact on the world in their own way. She keeps the reader interested by blending lists, short stories, and observations she has had throughout her life. It is as if you are reading pages from the celebrity’s diary. Although it is difficult to find a common strain throughout her chapters, she uniquely portrays her vision. 


Historical Context

Ellen DeGeneres’ book, Seriously…I’m Kidding was published on October 4th, 2011. During this year, many events involving pop culture, politics, and worldwide events were occurring. Television said goodbye to Oprah Winfrey as she aired her final episode on May 25th. Her show was significant in DeGeneres’ public coming out because it gave her a platform to discuss her story with the public. The conclusion of Winfrey’s show had a direct impact on DeGeneres, because not only did Oprah Winfrey’s show help DeGeneres come out to the public, but also the two were very close friends. There were major events happening in other parts of the world including massive earthquakes in Japan, English riots, and the capturing and killing of the al-Qaida leader, Osama Bin Laden. Despite some of these traumatic events happening in the world around her, Ellen DeGeneres keeps an upbeat tone in her writing with a positive outlook on life. Her optimism radiates off the pages of the book and helps to take the reader’s mind to a place away from the tragedies of 2011. 


Connections

Ellen DeGeneres is a woman whose talents are known by many. Not many can capture an audience and make them laugh, cry, and dance all within an hour quite like DeGeneres does. There are a handful of powerful women in mainstream media who share her love for comedy, philanthropy, and writing. Oprah Winfrey is a woman who has often been compared to DeGeneres’ generous nature. Both women have hosted their own TV shows, and they both used their shows as a platform to share their wealth with those who are struggling. Winfrey and DeGeneres have inspired many, and have made it their mission to do their part in helping society. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are two other women who instantly stand out to us when thinking of Ellen DeGeneres. All three ladies share a love for humor and enjoy bringing us comedy through the TV screens. Poehler and Fey, just like DeGeneres, have put their wit into writing, and have released novels of their own. Poehler’s book called Yes Please and Fey’s novel titled Bossypants, share similar themes that can be found in DeGeneres’ Seriously..I’m Kidding. All three of these works of literature are centered around a theme that teaches us to laugh at all the fun and quirky things that happen in our lives by following the format of a strain of consciousness of the author.


Works Cited 

  1. Bried, Erin. “Ellen DeGeneres’ 9 Secrets for Living a Happier Life.” Good Housekeeping, Good Housekeeping, 21       Mar. 2018, www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/entertainment/a45504/ellen-degeneres-cover-story/
  2. Colville, Liz. “This Time, Ellen DeGeneres Is ‘Seriously’ Kidding.” NPR Books, National Public Radio, 6 Oct.2011.https://www.npr.org/2011/10/06/141018982/this-time-ellen-degeneres-is-seriously-kidding.
  3. DeGeneres, Ellen. “Seriously…I’m Kidding Paperback – September 25, 2012.” Seriously…I’m Kidding: Ellen DeGeneres: 9780446585040: Amazon.com: Books, www.amazon.com/Seriously-Im-Kidding-Ellen-DeGeneres/dp/0446585041.
  4. “Ellen DeGeneres Biography.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, Advameg, Inc, www.notablebiographies.com/news/Ca-Ge/DeGeneres-Ellen.html.  Accessed 20 Feb. 2018.
  5. Ellen DeGeneres: Puppy Episode, Coming Out, Twenty … – Time. www.bing.com/cr?IG=BDB26EA95FC3425296794F521450FF1F&CID=1D629E1C97146E58354B95D196BB6FDC&rd=1&h=JxFlM9LzW_O6Qi4UIotOc3l84F5lQ0ZAkbXP57EYZOg&v=1&r=http://time.com/4732123/ellen-puppy-episode/&p=DevEx,5068.1.
  6. Latimer, Joanne. “Review: Seriously…I’m Kidding.” Macleans.ca, 22 Nov. 2011., http://www.macleans.ca/general/review-seriously-im-kidding/
  7. Lynott, Alanna. “’No Food, Just Juice!’ Amy Poehler Jokes with Ellen DeGeneres about Preparations to Host the Golden Globes.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 24 Oct. 2013, www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2475330/Amy-Poehler-jokes-Ellen-DeGeneres-Golden-Globes-preparations.html.
  8. Lytle, Betty. “Book Review: ‘Seriously … I’m Kidding’ by Ellen DeGeneres.” NewsOK.com,NewsOK, 23 Dec. 2011, newsok.com/article/3634503.
  9. Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres.” Kirkus Reviews, Grand Central Publishing, 1 Sept. 2011. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ellen-degeneres/seriouslyim-kidding/
  10. Wang, Judy L. “Book Review: Ellen DeGeneres’ ‘Seriously…I’m Kidding.’” Neon Tommy,  http://www.neontommy.com/news/2011/11/book-review-ellen-degeneres-seriouslyim-kidding