20 Embarrassing Scenes From The Ellen Show That Make For Uncomfortable Viewing

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The Ellen DeGeneres Show has been one of the most popular daytime hits on TV since it first aired back in 2003. But alongside all the fun and games, the NBC staple has also produced some moments that redefine the word “awkward.” So from hip-hop star rants to strip routines, here’s a look at 20 of the most memorable.

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20. Mispronouncing Hasan Minhaj’s name

DeGeneres isn’t afraid to stroke the egos of her various celebrity guests. However, sometimes her tendency to gush about the people who she invites on to her sofa can backfire. In 2019 comedian Hasan Minhaj appeared on the daytime show to promote his new Netflix venture, Patriot Act. And DeGeneres began the interview with, “It’s so nice to meet you, I’m a huge fan.” But wouldn’t a huge fan at least know how to pronounce Minhaj’s name?

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“And it’s Hasaam Minaaj?” Ellen enquired. When her guest replied, “no,” the host made things even more awkward by insisting that her pronunciation was correct. She only backed down after Minhaj confirmed for a second time that he knew how to say his own name. The comedian then gave DeGeneres a crash course in how to master four syllables.

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19. Sending an audience member to jail

You don’t want to mess with DeGeneres when she’s angry. The talk show host has built a reputation as one of the nicest women on daytime TV, though in one particular episode she proved that she’s certainly no pushover. On this occasion, it was an audience member who felt the wrath of the comedienne following a hidden camera segment.

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DeGeneres seemed genuinely cross that a fan had taken two free souvenirs instead of the allocated one. After being shamed on television for her apparent greed, the ‘thief’ apologetically revealed that the second item she took was for her sibling. However, that wasn’t enough to placate DeGeneres and the host sent the audience member into a makeshift jail as further punishment.

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18. Forgetting that Katy Perry got married

DeGeneres famously voiced Dory, the amnesiac regal blue tang in Pixar hit Finding Nemo. And it seems as though the star has problems with her memory in real life, too. In 2017 she invited Katy Perry on to her show where they played a theoretical game titled “Will You Perry Me?” The pop superstar then commented, “Will I have to get married – again?” Perry, of course, had walked down the aisle with Russell Brand in 2010.

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However, DeGeneres seemed puzzled by her guest’s remark – telling the former Mrs. Brand that she had in fact never said ‘I do.’ Eventually, the penny dropped and the host remembered Perry’s brief marriage to the wild-haired British comedian. DeGeneres’ faux pas then became even more uncomfortable when the singer reminded her, “… You even gave me a wedding present on the show.”

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17. Wendy Williams’ Bieber comparison

Wendy Williams has become DeGeneres’ main daytime talk show rival thanks to her syndicated self-titled hit. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop the latter from inviting the outspoken personality onto her sofa in 2014. But if this was intended to prove that there was no hard feelings between the pair, then it instead had the opposite effect.

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Things appeared slightly terse from the moment Williams walked onto the stage. And things got worse when she compared DeGeneres to former tween idol Justin Bieber. During a game where his name flashed up on screen, Williams remarked, “Some people say that he looks like you.” And it’s fair to say that DeGeneres didn’t seem too amused.

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16. Nicole Kidman’s food criticism

It doesn’t seem likely that Nicole Kidman will be booking a table at one of Giada De Laurentiis’ restaurants any time soon. The Oscar winner and Food Network star famously clashed during a cooking segment on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2017. The tension began when De Laurentiis appeared to mock Kidman’s skills in the kitchen while making risotto balls.

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However, Kidman soon got her own back when she tasted a fennel and clementine focaccia bread made by De Laurentiis. The actress complained, “It’s a little tough, I know you’re not meant to criticize. But it’s a little tough.” Kidman then spat out the pizza, before adding, “Don’t let my kids see I did that.”

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15. The bingo marker mix-up

Renowned for her generosity, DeGeneres will often give her celebrity guests a gift to remember her by. But in 2008 Ryan Seacrest decided to mix things up and give the host a present to celebrate her birthday. The American Idol presenter chose a bingo set for DeGeneres to use at one of her famous game nights. However, he was left puzzled by one of its components.

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Discovering an extra gift bag that had been placed by his side, Seacrest became completely flustered when he looked inside it. And as he put the item back in its bag, the host claimed, “I don’t know what that is.” Thankfully, Seacrest finally realized that the item in question wasn’t a sex toy but an entirely innocuous ink dauber.

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14. Jeff Corwin’s snake goes rogue

Jeff Corwin is no stranger to bringing animals on to the sets of TV talk shows. The conservationist has appeared on The Jay Leno Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel Live! over the years. But one of his most memorable moments undoubtedly occurred during a guest spot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

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Having brought a massive anaconda to the studio floor, Corwin asked for DeGeneres’ help in handling it. Seizing their moment in the spotlight, the reptile began wrapping itself around the host’s body and much to the audience’s amusement, one particularly inappropriate part. Thankfully, DeGeneres saw the funny side, too.

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13. Ashton Kutcher’s strip routine

In 2011 Ashton Kutcher replaced Charlie Sheen as the lead in Two and a Half Men. And the actor sure went out of his way to promote his debut on the hugely popular sitcom. As well as appearing half-naked alongside his co-stars in a billboard poster, Kutcher also decided to walk around in his birthday suit on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

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Referring to the eye-catching Two and a Half Men billboard, Kutcher told DeGeneres, “It’s getting a lot of attention. So I just figured I’m going to do everything nude from now on.” But things then became even more awkward when DeGeneres’ mom suddenly walked in shot to see Kutcher baring all.

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12. DeGeneres’ mom watches Magic Mike

DeGeneres seems to have a habit of inflicting naked men on her mom. Several years after she witnessed a nude Ashton Kutcher, Betty was also forced to watch the cast of Magic Mike Live leave little to the imagination. Yes, DeGeneres’ poor mother was in the audience when the stage show’s hunks began stripping on the show in 2016 and her reactions went viral.

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At first, Betty appeared to take things in her stride when the boys took to the stage. But her jaw visibly dropped when the clothes started to come off and the routine to Ginuwine’s R&B classic “Pony” reached its gyrating climax. Her daughter later handed out free tickets to the show’s home, Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, to every audience member. But it’s not known whether Betty took the opportunity to see Magic Mike Live in its entirety.

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11. The Taylor Swift game

Taylor Swift is renowned for singing about her many celebrity loves, but it turns out that she’s not so keen to discuss them on a talk show. In 2013 the megastar was asked to compete in a game on The Ellen DeGeneres Show which left her feeling immediately uncomfortable. That’s perhaps little surprise considering the aim was to ring a bell anytime a photo of a past conquest appeared on screen.

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“I don’t know if I’m going to do this,” a tentative Swift admitted. When DeGeneres’ cajoling didn’t work, the host simply picked up the bell herself and started ringing it. An unimpressed Swift asked DeGeneres to stop before adding, “It makes me feel so bad about myself. Every time I come up here [on the show] you put a different dude up here on the screen and it just makes me really question what I stand for as a human being.”

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10. Mocking Celine Dion’s son

Things got decidedly frosty when DeGeneres invited Celine Dion onto her sofa in 2007 – only to make a joke at the expense of her son. The interview with the chart-topper had been going pretty smooth until a picture of Dion, her husband and her long-haired son René-Charles flashed up on screen. DeGeneres commented, “Look at him, he’s beautiful but look at his hair.”

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dion took umbrage with this needless dig at her offspring and replied, “Do you have a problem with that?” Sensing that she’d overstepped the mark, DeGeneres changed the subject and the pair continued with their chat. However, it was clear that Dion hadn’t appreciated the host’s hair advice.

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9. Defending her George W. Bush friendship

DeGeneres suffered a major backlash when she was pictured talking to George W. Bush at a football game in 2019. The host was widely criticized on social media for fraternizing with a man many deemed to be at odds with her apparently liberal views. DeGeneres then stoked the flames further when she responded to the furore on her talk show with defiance.

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“I’m friends with George Bush,” DeGeneres began in her monologue. “In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different, and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different. Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them.”

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8. Her calls to reinstate Kevin Hart as Oscars host

In 2019 Kevin Hart opted to withdraw from his role as Oscars host after tweets of a homophobic nature surfaced from his past. While many believed this was the correct decision, DeGeneres claimed that the comedian had been railroaded by social media. And much to her LGBTQ fans’ dismay, she then revealed that she’d been personally campaigning for Hart’s reinstatement.

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Speaking directly to Hart on her daytime show, DeGeneres said, “As a gay person, I am sensitive to all of that. You’ve already expressed that it’s not being educated on the subject, not realizing how dangerous those words are, not realizing how many kids are killed for being gay or beaten up every day. You have grown, you have apologized, you are apologizing again right now. You’ve done it. Don’t let those people win host the Oscars.”

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7. Embarrassing Jake Gyllenhaal

DeGeneres has a habit of embarrassing her celebrity guests with her sometimes intrusive questioning. And Jake Gyllenhaal found that out to his cost in 2019 when he appeared on her show to promote Spider-Man: Far from Home. During a segment called “Burning Questions,” the actor appeared to become flustered when DeGeneres repeatedly asked him about his favorite body part.

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“On a person?” Gyllenhaal asked the host, who sarcastically replied that she in fact meant on a kangaroo. After answering “the pouch,” the bashful star was pushed for a real response once again. Gyllenhaal eventually answered, “Oh man, I really like, like a… the back of a woman’s neck. It’s just weird! It’s a weird question. It’s a weird question, it’s confusing.”

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6. Blake Shelton’s correction

DeGeneres’ gift-giving abilities were called into question when Blake Shelton appeared on her show in 2019. After the host referred to a deliberately embarrassing wall clock she’d presented to the country star on his last visit to the set, Shelton replied, “But you didn’t give it to me! I walked backstage and somebody back there was like, ‘Hey, thanks for being on the show. Can I have that?’ And they took it.”

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Flustered by this response, DeGeneres replied, “Well that’s not right,” before castigating her behind the scenes staff. Shelton responded, “You took it back because whoever your next guest was, you replaced the picture and did the same crap to them and embarrassed them.” DeGeneres later added, “I don’t know why you don’t have it,” before addressing her staff again, “We spend money making it, we give it to him.”

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5. Allison Janney’s handshake

After partaking in one of the many games that DeGeneres likes to get her guests involved in during a 2016 episode, Allison Janney offered her hand for the host to shake. Unfortunately, DeGeneres didn’t notice this gesture and the Oscar winner was left hanging. And Janney seemed determined to only heighten the awkwardness further.

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Instead of withdrawing her hand, Janney decided to leave it there for what seemed like an eternity. The I, Tonya actress even glanced at the audience to make sure they knew she had been blanked by DeGeneres. Thankfully, the host finally spotted Janney’s outstretched hand and returned the gesture.

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4. The David Arquette interview

Recovering alcoholic David Arquette left many viewers concerned that he’d fallen off the wagon when he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2015. The Scream actor had joined Wanda Sykes on the sofa to play “Never Have I Ever” with the host. And his slurred speech and fidgety behaviour led some to believe that he was under the influence at the time.

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Just a year before his appearance, Arquette had admitted that he’d relapsed in the wake of his son’s birth. However, a representative for the star later told MailOnline, “That’s just David. He always has a lot of fun on shows and if you look at other clips from other talk shows he has done, it’s pretty much the same. That’s just his personality!”

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3. The backfiring good deed

Of course, The Ellen DeGeneres Show can be just as cringeworthy when it deals with members of the general public. In 2015 the host told audiences the story of a financially struggling student named Jamie Bells who had come up with a unique method of raising money. The woman in question had been donating blood on a weekly basis in order to purchase a new computer.

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After asking Bells on to the set, DeGeneres revealed that she’d arranged for her tuition to be paid by Shutterfly. However, the host had embarrassingly got it wrong. The image-sharing company had only agreed to buy a new computer for the student. After being informed this was the case by her producers, DeGeneres quickly had to address her mistake. Bells took it in good grace but did reveal that she was, in fact, already in possession of a new computer.

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2. Caitlyn Jenner’s same-sex marriage talk

In 2015 Caitlyn Jenner clashed with DeGeneres over the subject of same-sex marriage, admitting, “I kinda like tradition and it’s always been a man and a woman… As time has gone on, I think a lot of people on this issue have really changed their thinking here to, ‘I don’t ever want to stand in front of anybody’s happiness.’ That’s not my job, okay? If that word, ‘marriage,’ is really, really that important to you, I can go with it.”

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DeGeneres, who famously walked down the aisle with Portia De Rossi, was quick to challenge Jenner’s comments. She answered, “Obviously ‘marriage’ is an important word because marriage is marriage and equality is equality, so we want the same word everyone else has… We want the same thing.” Jenner later revealed on her website that her appearance on the show had helped to change her views on the subject.

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1. Kanye West’s rant

DeGeneres no doubt regretted asking Kanye West whether he had any regrets about any of his past tweets in 2016. For the rapper then launched into a six-minute rant which referenced everything from the existence of mankind to Michael Jackson. He began, “Don’t tell me about being likable. We’ve got a hundred years here. We’re one race, the human race, one civilization. We’re a blip in the existence of the universe, and we’re constantly trying to pull each other down.”

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In front of a bewildered DeGeneres, West continued, “Not doing things to help each other. That’s my point. It’s like I’m shaking talking about it. I know it’s daytime TV, but I feel that I can make a difference while I’m here. I feel that I can make things better through my skill set.”

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