Monday, September 30, 2013

How to get on the Ellen DeGeneres Show - Guest Post

Hey gang! Dad (John) here. I want you all to meet my buddy Joel. Joel is a dad. Joel doesn't have a blog. Weird huh? I thought we all had blogs. The tragic part of Joel not having a blog is that he is a really good writer, and a really funny guy. So today, and hopefully more in the future, I am going to publish a bit of his writing. Please show him some love! And without further adieu...

How to get on the Ellen DeGeneres Show 
by Blogless Joel

E-mail from Ellen Producer

The next morning I woke up drenched in sweat. What if I had an aisle seat? What if Ellen came up to me and I had to dance on camera? I'd probably just do the Ickey Shuffle. I don't know.

In a world of narcissists in need of perpetual self-validation, what better gift could a dad be given than an opportunity to show off his cute kid on a popular nationally televised TV program?

So when I got the message from an Ellen Producer asking to speak with me and my daughter, I immediately thought: I’m going to get SO MANY Likes and Retweets. My fragile ego will be made whole. My success as a father will be confirmed.

It will be worth the 2.5 seconds of awkward shuffling recorded forever for all to see.

I've been through the process. Let me know tell you how you can make it happen too.

Step 1: Have children.

Ellen loves kids. Cute kids are your ticket to the Ellen stage. Past child guests on Ellen include: two kids who know a lot about Presidents, a girl who wrote a questionnaire for the Tooth Fairy, and two British girls singing Nikki Minaj for whatever reason.

I know about Presidents. I can write questionnaires. And one time when I was sick with strep throat and losing my voice, I stubbed my toe on a coffee table and made a noise that sounded like a Nikki Minaj song.

But alas, I'm 3 feet too tall and 25 years too old to make those things watchable. Bottom line: I am not Ellen material.

If you want to be on Ellen, you need children. Sure you can have just one kid, but the more kids you have, the better your odds of getting one cute enough to land you a spot on the show.

Once you have a kid, you need to get your kid to do something cute on YouTube.

Step 2: Get your kid to do something cute on YouTube.

Your best bet is to make your kid do something that only adults do. Your brain will be like, “Wow. This is a little person doing something a big person would do. This is funny!”

Some ideas I thought up just now:
  • A boy dressed in a suit sobbing quietly in a cubicle. Cute!
  • A girl stumbling around with an empty bottle of Cabernet slurring hateful things at her family. Hilarious!
  • A boy and girl toddler acting out the "I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS" speech from Breaking Bad. Adorable!
Or you can always go the route that I went: record your daughter watching a classic, universally loved movie that slightly scares her.

I picked E.T.. My parents tell me this was the first movie my older brother saw in the theater and he cried the WHOLE time. Perfect. I imagined my daughter crying in terror as E.T. passed away, only to see her light up with joy when Elliot coaxes him back to life! This would get Ellen's attention.

With cameras rolling, my daughter ended up loving the movie. It didn't go as expected; she barely cried, but it would have to do...

I uploaded it to YouTube and waited for the views to pour in.

Step 3: Wait for the Ellen producers to contact you.

Other than the day-in/day-out trials and tribulations of parenting and the gradually eroding sense of self, waiting for contact from the Ellen producers has to be the toughest part of the process.

Your video is on YouTube. You've posted links to Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and even MySpace. Now what?

You wait.

My big break came when Huffington Post picked up the video and put it on the front page of their Parenting section.

Screen Cap from Huffpost

Once my video landed on Huffington Post, it had 10,000 views within a week, as well as sophisticated comments such as:
  •  "Future annoying person in the movie next to you."
  •  "I would never let my 3 year old watch E.T.."
  •  "Not cute. Let's teach our kids not to talk through movies."
I guess if I'm going to be super famous and validated, I'm going to have to learn to deal with negative criticism. Even America’s Favorite Dad can't please everyone.

Within a week of the Huffington Post article, I was contacted by a Producer from Ellen. Everything was going according to plan.

Step 4: Talk with the Ellen Producers

No matter how witty and funny you are, the Ellen Producers are going to be more interested in talking to your child than you.

Our first meeting was a phone call with a producer named Abby.

I was super nervous, but my daughter just wanted gummy bears. So I did what any experienced father would do, I told her, "If you are cute on this phone call, I'll give you some gummy bears." I'm not proud of it. But I guess this is what they mean when they say parenting is a constant struggle.

With sweaty palms, a trembling voice, and an insatiable hunger for gummy bears, we began the call.

It started well. My daughter asked the Producer (who shares the same first name as a certain fairy on Sesame Street), "Do you have a magic wand?"

I was holding back laughter and tears of excitement. But curse! The 20 something, childless producer didn't get the reference! She only asked my daughter, “If you had a wand, what would you do?”

"I would fly."

"Where would you fly to? Disney Land?" Abby asked.

"I would fly to Candy Land."

Laughter. Because Candy Land isn’t a real place, it’s a board game!

We were in. Wit, charm, blonde hair. Ellen would love my daughter and so would the world.

“Who is that girl’s father?” they would ask. “Oh, it’s me. Just doing what any dad would do I guess,” I would respond bashfully.

Abby explained this was just the first step in the process and she would speak to her supervisor and schedule another call. In the meantime, she asked if I would be willing to record my daughter watching another movie. She suggested "Finding Nemo", since Ellen is in it.

I agreed and we set the following Friday as "movie night".

The recording started off well. She asked what a Barracuda was, and completely butchered the pronunciation of Barracuda. Adorable. But things went downhill from there.

With E.T., the questions flowed quickly because she hadn't seen it before and was slightly scared. She had seen Finding Nemo countless times and when I probed her to tell me what was happening, she countered by asking me to stop asking her questions. The tables had turned!

By the time Nemo and Dory were meeting the sharks, my daughter was having a full blown meltdown. In tears, she pleaded, "Daddy, will you pah-leeeease stop recording me."

Then it hit me: why am I doing this?

My daughter is the most wonderful little person in the entire world. I know this and so does my wife. Why do I need other people to tell me it's true?

Do I really want my daughter to be a marketing tool for Finding Dory?

My daughter is at the age where she will soon form the first memory that will remain her lifetime. What if that memory is fumbling her words on Ellen and humiliating herself in front of millions of people? What was there to gain? I would give up anything without hesitation for her well-being. Was the need for self-validation worth it? Is this something she would want… or something that I want?

I looked at my daughter and said, "Absolutely. Let's just watch Nemo." I turned off the camera. We watched the movie together until she fell asleep in my arms. I carried her upstairs, kissed both her eyelids, and told her good night.

Step 5: ??????

We didn't end up on Ellen.

I can’t tell you what step 5 is. I don’t know. I imagine it involves a lot of unnecessary anxiety, frustration, and toddler tears. Nothing is worse than toddler tears. It may be worth it for some. But for me, I know my child is wonderful, and I don’t need anyone to tell me that.

So it was with great relief, rather than despair, when we were told, "We think you and your daughter are lovely and we do appreciate it. As of now, we're going to hold off on doing anything. Please don’t take it personally, as it really has to do with timing and availability."

It's just as well. We were holding out for The Today Show anyways. Get at me, Matt Lauer.

Joel and his daughter


  1. So close! Great read, thank you to you both.

  2. "Is he saying "E GOOD?"
    Love it. She's a chatty little thing, but awesomely adorable. Great Dad, too. :)

  3. Any story that doesn't end in profit isn't worth telling. I've Ctrl+F'd like three times looking for the word "profit" and can't find it. What kind of parenting story is this?!

  4. I think this is a constant struggle all of us dad bloggers have. We want to be recognized but at the same time we don't want it to be at the expense of our kids.

  5. Joel should have a blog. Wait a minute... unless he's saying blogging is like the Ellen show only with less people watching?! Anyone wanna buy a blog, cheap?

  6. Great post, I am not above bribing my kids with Gummy Bears. Really love how you turned off the camera and enjoyed the time with your daughter. It takes a real dad to do that!

  7. Ellen, Schmellen, who cares? That video was ADORABLE and now you have it, forever.

  8. Great post :) I think you handled everything well. Love the learning that came with the experience. I think this speaks volumes of you as a dad/parent much more than millions of viewers.

  9. True story...I work at Ellen and I have kids, and I LOVED your take. Well done, Joel, and welcome to the blogging world for one day (I'm sure there are more to come).

  10. What a lovely post - I reckon most little girls think of their dads as protectors, which is exactly what you were. Very sweet :)

  11. Just a quick question... where did/ do/ who do you contact initially and by which method? On the Ellen website?

  12. Just a quick question... where did/ do/ who do you contact initially and by which method? On the Ellen website?

    1. We did not contact anyone; they contacted us via a YouTube message. I understand the show has interns who scour the Internets for videos/stories/etc and then give interesting ones to Producers, who then decide which are the best fit.

      This post was meant to be a bit satirical. Being on Ellen was never actually a goal of mine, even after our initial contact with the Producers. I was always sort of on the fence about it.

  13. OMG! That's the funniest thing ever! Your kid is so adorable and I think this blog is amazing! It is not only funny, but very inspiring as well. Great job! And thanks for being an awesome dad! :)

  14. Awwww cute, could u put Up my video for me? I'm 13 and have always wanted to be on her show. BTW I'm a contortionist :) pretty please with a cherry on top? Lol OK thanks ~Thai~