W: Did you play places like that?
ED: Lots of places where, literally, the soup of the day got the top billing. There would be a chalkboard on the sidewalk and it would say: SOUP OF THE DAY: BROCCOLI. AND ELLEN DEGENERES. And I'm not kidding.
W: Talk about that first monologue, how it came out of a tragedy.
ED: My girlfriend was killed in a car accident when I was 21.
W: What happened?
ED: We had a fight. I left to go stay with friends to try to teach her a lesson . My brother's band was performing. She went looking for me. It was really, really loud, and she was there and she kept saying, "When are you coming back home?" And I kept going, "I can't I can't hear you. What?" I was being really aloof. She kept saying, "Come back home," and then she left. I left a few minutes later, and we passed an accident. The car was split in two.
W: Did you recognize the car immediately?
ED: I had no idea . The next morning her sister came and said, "Kat died last night." And I realized that I had passed it. So I was devastated but just trying to make sense of it. They said she was alive for three hours. Could I have saved her? And why didn't I stop? She was this beautiful girl . At that age I thought, Wow, she's just gone, in an instant. I was just talking to her, and if I had said, "Yes, I'll go home with you," she wouldn't have been in that car.
W: Did you feel responsible?
ED: I felt all kinds of things. I felt responsible. I felt how fragile life is, all that stuff.
W: Do you consider yourself a spiritual person?
ED: I think that's all we are, if we tap into it . The praying starts when you're faced with something, obviously. I just make a point of being aware of it every single day, all day if I can.
W: Do you believe in God?
ED: I believe that's a label for something.
W: The accident moved you to write your first piece.
ED: That's why I wrote "A Phone Call to God." I couldn't afford to live where we were living together, so I moved into this tiny apartment. It was infested with fleas, and I was laying on this mattress on the floor and she was gone, and I didn't have any money . And I just thought, Wouldn't it be great if you literally had a phone number for God? You could just call God and ask God questions that you wanted answers to . I just wrote exactly what it would be like to try to call God . It would ring forever 'cause it's such a big place Him not knowing who I am at first, and then making fun of my name God sneezing and me saying, "God bless you" . It just poured out. And then I decided that I'm going to go on Johnny Carson and do this, so I just started finding a place to do comedy. And out of nowhere a comedy club opened in New Orleans. I got a job as an MC, and I started writing more and more and more.