Ellen DeGeneres addresses aftermath of toxic workplace claims: 'It's hard to dance when you're crying'

"I'm making jokes about what happened to me, but it was devastating," said the former daytime talk-show host following a stand-up comedy gig in Los Angeles this week.

Ellen DeGeneres might be able to joke now about the events that led to the end of her talk show, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t take an emotional toll on her. 

The comedian reflected on her experience getting “kicked out of show business” for being “mean” during her latest stand-up comedy gig, at the Largo in Los Angeles on Wednesday, reports PEOPLE.

She made her cracks in reference to a 2020 BuzzFeed News report in which several Ellen DeGeneres Show staffers anonymously came forward with toxic workplace environment claims, saying they'd experienced racial microaggressions and were punished for taking medical or bereavement leave while employed by the talk show.

"The hate went on for a long time, and I would try to avoid looking at the news," she told the crowd, multiple outlets report. "The 'be kind' girl wasn't kind. That was the headline."

<p>Casey Durkin/NBC via Getty Images</p> Ellen DeGeneres

Casey Durkin/NBC via Getty Images

Ellen DeGeneres

DeGeneres added that her decision to end each episode of the show by reminding viewers to “be kind to one another” slowly became a “problem” because the public began to perceive her as a "one-dimensional character who gave stuff away and danced up steps."

At the end of her routine, DeGeneres held a Q&A session, during which a fan asked if she was still able to “dance” through the backlash. "No... It's hard to dance when you're crying," she admitted, adding that she had a “hard time” and “didn’t get out” much at the height of the controversy.

DeGeneres explained that the scandal left her “in a funk” that also had an effect on her wife, Portia de Rossi. “She was watching it happen to me,” the comedian recalled. “She went through it with me.”

Though the couple overcame the media storm together and are both “dancing now,” she lost her desire to continue with her career. Said DeGeneres, “I'm making jokes about what happened to me, but it was devastating. It took a long time for me to want to do anything again."

She also acknowledged that she “hated the way the show ended,” because she "loved" it so much.

In the aftermath of the allegations, which resulted in a large viewership fallout, the show's parent company, WarnerMedia, launched an internal investigation that found "deficiencies" in how the series was run. The talk show later parted ways with three producers.

DeGeneres repeatedly apologized to her staff and offered them new perks following the report. However, in 2021, she announced that the series would end in 2022 after 19 seasons. Her final episode featured special guests including Jennifer Aniston, Billie Eilish, and Pink.

She concluded her Q&A session by telling the audience that she was happy to make her return to comedy and bring some "joy" during "a scary time" to be alive. Said DeGeneres, "I think that we need more laughter and less drama."

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