Ellen Degeneres has revealed that she was inspired to do comedy after the death of a former girlfriend.

The 60-year-old comedian and talk show host - who is now married to Portia De Rossi - has admitted that she wrote the material for her first ever comedy performance when her former girlfriend was killed in a car accident 40 years ago.

Speaking during an interview for actor Dax Shepard's 'Armchair Expert' podcast on Tuesday (13.03.18), Ellen said: ''My girlfriend was killed in a car accident when I was like 20 years old. And I wasn't doing comedy, I think I was probably waitressing someplace at the time. I was living with her when she was killed.

''I couldn't afford to live where we were living together and so I moved into this tiny little basement apartment. I moved into this basement apartment and I was sleeping on a mattress on a floor and it was infested with fleas. And I used to write all the time, I wrote poetry and songs and stuff, and I thought, 'Why is this beautiful 21-year-old girl just gone and fleas are here?'

''I just thought it would be amazing if we could just pick up the phone and call up God and ask questions and get an answer. It just unfolded, I just wrote the entire thing and when I finished, I read it and I thought, 'Oh my God, that's hilarious. I'm going to do this on Johnny Carson and I'm going to be the first woman in the history of the show be asked to sit down.'''

Ellen appeared on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' back in 1986 and became the first woman to be invited to sit down on Johnny's couch after a stand-up routine, thanks to her ''Phone Call to God'' routine which was written after her partner's passing.

The 'Ellen Degeneres Show' host has been in a relationship with wife Portia since 2004, and the pair have been married for almost a decade, with their 10th wedding anniversary taking place later this year.