Bad Joke

Liza Minnelli Responds To Ellen’s “Female Impersonator” Oscar Joke

In one of the more odd moments of the Oscars, host and America’s Lesbian Sweetheart Ellen DeGeneres did an endless bit at gay icon Liza Minnelli’s expense.

Minnelli, who was at the Oscars to celebrate the 75th anniversary of her mother’s most famous flick The Wizard Of Oz, was referred to as a “female impersonator” by DeGeneres, and the look of horror never quite left her face as the bit went on and on.

It was a marked difference from the generally safe and positive humor DeGeneres is known for, and even has some people up in arms and demanding an apology for the so-called “transphobic” joke.

However, TMZ got in touch with Liza, who doesn’t seem to be too offended by the joke, though she does admit it went on just a bit too long.

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  • Cam

    Liza Minelli has been around this type of humor for decades. One of her husbands turned out to be gay, there have been constant jokes about Drag Queens doing her.

    Not sure how a joke about her popularity as a fixture for Drag Queens is being turned into an attack on the transgender community.

    As we all know, Drag Queens and Transgendered are not the same thing. I don’t understand the desperation by some to pretend that they are in this situation.

  • B Damion

    @Cam …once again I agree. And it is so freshing to see that a ultra-masculine type guy like you has such insight to matters concerning drag queens, Transg’s and the sorts. Bravo Cam. Bravo.

  • Mike

    She was the sober one in Arthur. I see that has changed!

  • fishpaw13

    Only ONE of her husbands was gay??? I thought the joke was funny. Lorna seemed to like it too. She is a drag queen icon like the people who do Cher. Knowing Liza she was probably so high on pills & booze, she didn’t hear half of the joke.

  • mcflyer54

    @Cam: It wasn’t just ONE of her husbands who turned out to be gay. But as far as the joke goes it was really pretty harmless – Minellli, Garland, Parton, etc. are adored by their gay fans and very very very often the inspiration of wonderful impersonations.

  • sfbeast

    Everything Ellen did on the Oscars went on too long. The pizza bit was embarrassing. I hope NPH gets it next year.

  • jar

    I thought it was a bit uncool to invite Liza to honor her mother and then take a jab at her. But the whole proceedings were tacky and banal. I am actually offended at the lie being propagated that Ellen DeGeneres is humorous or a comedian.

  • BBellairs

    @jar: I’m glad you said that, I have never found Ellen to be the least bit funny. I always thought I was the only one. Even my partner thinks she’s funny.

  • Cam

    Ok Yes, maybe more than one of her husbands were gay. I forgot about that last guy. LOL

    @B Damion:

    We’ve agreed twice now?? Hmmmmm, what is going on here?! :)

  • crowebobby

    I didn’t think was a gibe at Liza or drag queens. I assumed she was initmating so many drag queens impersonate Liza that one has to automatically assume one’s seeing an imitator and not the real thing. But I can understand someone else thinking she was insinuating Liza looked like a poor imitation of herself or a man in drag, etc., etc. In any case, at this point, noblesse oblige would demand Liza laugh it off.

  • balehead

    Ellen was being transpohbic…totally classless……

  • Geos

    She is funny but that was in bad taste. In her defense there must be so much pressure to be funny & outrageous, she just went overboard.

  • Tad

    @sfbeast: I completely concur with the comment on the pizza bit. It was tacky, unnecessary and time consuming. She can do that schtick on her own show, but don’t bring down the Academy Awards with junk like that. And really, can you imagine how grossed out those people must have been to have felt obligated to handle a sloppy piece of pizza dressed in Armani? Sorry, Ellen. This wasn’t your best night….but your wife looked gorgeous.

  • ScaryRussianHeather


    Oh please tell us what part of that joke had ANYTHING to do with transphobic?

    Break it down like I’m a six year old.

    I think the problem is being dragphobic not transphobic.

  • Cobalt Blue

    I think this guy…DeGeneres needs some more roids and a little bit of male hormones. I also think DeGeneres would be happier driving a truck, fixing cars or hang around with other guys in bar to meet girls. Liza will always be a star no matter what her husbands’ orientation are/were and Oscar’s ceremony was, is and always will be a huge shit.

  • sejjo

    Oh geez, the world has lost its sense of humor. When did this happen? Before or after 9/11?

  • hephaestion

    There’s nothing transphobic about Ellen’s joke. The joke was simply that Liza is frequently imitated by female impersonators/drag queens, so she was assuming that Liza was an impersonator. It was a cute joke. The only reason to NOT find it funny would be an assumption that there is something wrong with being a female impersonator or drag queen.

    I was shocked by Liza’s anti-drag reaction to the joke.

  • Maude

    It was an ‘insider’ joke, and IMO, about 90% of the home audience is not gay.

    Her fault not remembering that.

    BTW, I saw Judy’s last performance at the Place in NY, and she was drop dead great.

    The musicians stoped playing after her show and they went home….Judy told us what was going on and then said:paraphrased…..I’m going to sing for you without the music, because I know you love me (the gay guys were shouting: “We Love You”)and I love you too.
    After a long applause she sat down on the stage, and said “I’ll sing all night if they let me”.

    My partner and I had an appointment for late dinner and had to leave after awhile, and when we opened one the doors in the lobby, we were confronted with a huge ‘Hollywood style’ crowed of people behind police barriers waiting for Judy to come out.

    I’ll never forget that night.

    She really does love her fans.

    Liza breaks my heart every time I see her.

  • Maude

    Sorry, that should have been “…. DID love her fans”.

    and I never saw Liza in person.

  • stvrsnbrgr

    Do you remember the joke Barbra Streisand told at her concert in NYC awhile back? She said she’d never seen so many Streisand impersonators in the city. And then someone came up to her and said, “Not even close, honey.” You want to do a funny joke about a woman looking like a female impersonator, make it about yourself.

    Ellen’s joke was an unclassy misery because it came at Liza’s expense. The woman is Hollywood royalty and a legend in her own right. She is there, with her siblings, at the invitation of The Academy to honor her mother’s signature song and role in one of the most iconic films in history. Liza is all glammed up — it’s the Oscars for chrissake! — and Ellen opens the show with a joke about how Liza looks like a man in drag.

    Imagine how that laughter in that room among that crowd made Liza Minelli feel in that moment. And THAT is where Ellen went so wrong. So stop defending the joke, before someone drops a house on you. And stop defending Ellen. She fucked up. It was uncharacteristically nasty. And I’d bet a size 13 pair of ruby red pumps that she has already invited Liza to appear on The Ellen Show, and that Liza with a Z has happily accepted.

    I’m a huge fan of Ellen with a D. She’s kind, generous, a fantastic role model. Her sense of humor and timing are spectacular… on her show, in her stand-up — but not on the Oscars stage. Her magic doesn’t work there. Just as Seth MacFarlane’s magic didn’t work there. They are two of the funniest people in the history of our mostly unfunny species, and they left the Oscars with black eyes.

    I agree with others who have suggested the solution: NPH for Permanent Host of the Tonys and the Oscars. And if he ever has to call in sick to the Oscars, bring in Tina & Amy. (He is never allowed to skip the Tonys.)

  • stranded

    I love Liza

  • Cam


    The issue wasn’t about whether the joke was in poor taste, it was about whether it was Transphobic.

  • GeriHew

    Really. Isn’t it totally obvious that the reason Liza didn’t realize her first husband was “gay” until she came home one day and caught him in bed with a man, was that the guy was actually bisexual? Or “Bi-Coastal” as he himself put it.

    I mean she was married to him for years, not months. And I find it hard to believe that Liza wasn’t quite the lusty lady back in the day.

    My theory is that Peter Allen probably wrote this song about Liza’s father as well as himself:

    If not, then it’s certainly some coincidence. As the big rumour about Vincente Minnelli was that he was “openly gay” in New York and “apparently straight” in LA.

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