In an Oscars night that was mostly devoid of controversy (excepting John Travolta invoking Xenu when he introduced Idina Menzel), the one joke that Ellen DeGeneres cracked onstage that actually made me wince came at the expense of Liza Minnelli. Now, compared to Seth MacFarlane's plethora of oh-no-he-DIDN'Ts in 2013, Ellen's dig at Minnelli was pretty tame, but it still felt pretty cringeworthy when Ellen referred to Minnelli as "the best Liza Minnelli impersonator I’ve ever seen."
Maybe part of the awkwardness was Ellen's delivery, since she was sort of stumbling over her lines as she set up the joke. But once she got to the final zinger -- "Good job, sir" -- I was surprised that Nice Gal Ellen had said something so mean.
As it turns out, Liza Minnelli wasn't exactly a huge fan of how the joke turned out either.
If you missed the joke, here's the moment when it sounded like DeGeneres compared Minnelli's appearance to a drag performer:
TMZ caught up with Minnelli in West Hollywood on Monday night and pestered her to share her thoughts about the joke. Minnelli was careful to point out that she didn't think Ellen meant any harm, but it's pretty obvious she hadn't been rolling in side-splitting laughter during that Oscars moment:
I think she thought it would be funny, and uh ...
Here's Minnelli's entire response:
So basically Minnelli thinks the joke would have worked better if the audience had been aware that the two of them are friends, but I disagree. After I'd had a chance to think about it, it seemed to me that the joke was actually meant to refer to Minnelli's popularity among drag performers and female impersonators. It was a well-meaning gag pointing out Minelli's legendary status, and I certainly don't think it was, as some have stated, a transphobic comment.
Really, I think it was just a joke that didn't work and managed to accidentally sound offensive as it fell to the Oscar floor with a resounding splat. But that's my take -- what did you think? Were you offended? Would it have been funnier if Ellen had made it clear they were friends?
Image via TMZ