To Ellen, Back Again

Coming out has not affected her comedy, but her audience has

Comedy, like drawing with cheese or playing the zither, is essentially an outsider art. It is best practiced by those who feel undernourished by human regard. This would include such admiration-impoverished individuals as a skinny, neurotic young Woody Allen; a homely, heavy Roseanne; a plain-weird Andy Kaufman and a vast number of Canadians. Nothing kills comedy quicker than acceptance.

And few comics are as adored by their constituents as Ellen DeGeneres. She winds up a 36-city tour this week with an HBO special (July 23, 10 p.m. E.T.). It's the first stand-up the comic and actor has done in seven years,...

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