in conversation

Suddenly, Jimmy Kimmel Is Our Cronkite

The other day, I had a foie gras hot dog,” says Jimmy Kimmel, dressed in a gray hoodie and baggy jeans, sitting in a makeshift office at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where he was hosting a week of his namesake show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! “That might sound gross, but it was the best hot dog I’ve ever eaten,” he raves. “A foie gras hot dog. That’s me in a nutshell right there.” At least it was until a couple months ago, when, spurred by his newborn son’s congenital heart defect, he began laying into Republicans for their attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and, in the process, became an enemy to some on the right and an unlikely hero to many on the left. Those partisan feelings only intensified when, in the wake of the mass shooting in his hometown of Las Vegas, Kimmel tearfully admonished Washington for failing to take any meaningful action on gun control. It was a moment that recalled Walter Cronkite speaking out against the Vietnam War. In the space of six weeks, this seemingly apolitical 49-year-old comedian, who, since his show debuted in 2003, has done exceptionally well by coming across as late-night’s unexceptional guy, had transformed himself into a riveting teller of truths — with the ratings bump to match. “I never wanted to come on too strong politically,” Kimmel says. “I never wanted to preach to the choir.” Yet here he is, talking about not just his politicization and whether the Trump era has changed late-night TV forever but other, crucial things, like loopholes in vanity-license-plate laws and why now’s the right time for a Man Show reboot.

We’re in this moment where it’s expected that people with your job — late-night-talk-show hosts — be part of the political conversation. Do you think in the future there will still be the Jimmy Fallons, the Jay Lenos, the hosts who are just like, “Sorry, talking politics is not my thing”?
I never really thought about it that way. Maybe you’re right. Maybe we’ll never go back. Maybe the days of fun are over, but I like to think that they aren’t. I don’t think politics affect daytime television. Ellen DeGeneres is doing pretty well without talking about a lot of this stuff, for example. I just think that for me personally, it so happened that my son had a heart operation and then my hometown got attacked. So that’s what prompted me to speak out in a way that a lot of people noticed, but the truth of the matter is, we have been talking about politics for a very long time. I mean, with the exception of one show that I declared a “No-Trump Tuesday,” there wasn’t one night of the year leading up to the election where we didn’t talk about politics. So, for me, it’s always just a matter of what people are talking about and commenting on and what’s going on in the news.

But I do think that as a talk-show host, you get a lot of reaction if you talk about something seriously. It’s almost the same thing as your ne’er-do-well cousin giving a nice speech at a funeral. He probably gets a little more credit than he deserves.

Maybe you’ve always talked about politics, but it’s also obvious that how people responded to you changed when you started to talk about the ACA and about Las Vegas. Why did what you said resonate so strongly?
I remember having a conversation with Ellen once, and she was really upset because — I don’t remember specifically what was going on — there was some kind of anti-gay movement going on. I remember telling her that the country has come a long way [on gay rights] and reminding her that President Obama pretended to be against gay marriage for quite some time. Not that I was explaining anything to her, but to hear someone like me talk about equal rights for homosexual people hits harder than when people hear her talk about it. To hear the guy from The Man Show talk about that in an inclusive way — I have some credibility.

It’s amazing that doing The Man Show could be something that gives you credibility.
And yet it is.

I guess the Juggies would be proud. You’ve come a long way.
It probably looks like I have, anyway. We always said The Man Show’s audience was divided between people who thought it was funny and understood we were joking and other people who really thought we had some kind of an agenda.

And people who just watched for the Juggies.
Well, yeah, people wanted to see women jumping on trampolines.

Do you look back at The Man Show and cringe?
I look back at every show I’ve ever done and cringe. My vision of hell is a bunch of monitors with my old shows running on them. But yes, of course, and not necessarily for the reasons you think. I just think, Oh, we could’ve done that better. It was a show people loved, and I got to work with Adam [Carolla], which was a dream at the time, and we did a lot of funny stuff. We also did a lot of stupid stuff.

Could you get away with doing that show in 2017?
If we put The Man Show on today in its identical form, it would be an even bigger hit than it was back then. I believe that very strongly.

Because there’s more back to lash against. There’s more scrutiny. There’s more political correctness. That always offers more opportunity to run counter.

I don’t think people would be particularly kind to that show’s idea of humor.
It would absolutely result in a shitstorm, and there’s absolutely nothing better for ratings than a shitstorm.

Speaking of which, what’d you say to the bigwigs at ABC before you decided to talk about health care and your son?
I actually only discussed it with my wife, who’s one of the two head writers on the show. Your boss doesn’t want you to ask about doing anything like that. They don’t want to be complicit. They’d rather you do it without their knowledge.

What are the dynamics of being your spouse’s boss?
I don’t just kill her jokes, I’ve killed her spirit. But listen, it’s a comedy show — if one out of ten jokes you write gets on air, you’re doing great. It is a little weird when she makes fun of me in front of the staff. She did it in a meeting this morning. If it’d been anyone else, I probably would’ve fired back.

What’d she say?
I’ll decline to comment on the specifics. It was very off-color. But what makes it not quite so awkward — it’s not awkward, actually — is that she worked here for quite some time before we were romantically involved. It would’ve been awkward if she’d been someone I brought on after we started dating.

Do you two generate a lot of material at home?
Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I’ll think of some funny idea and I’ll try to make noise and wake her up so I can tell her what it is. I’ll make just a little more noise coming out of the bathroom than I usually would, and if she does happen to wake up, I’ll try the joke out on her.

That seems like a terrible time to test a joke.
My success is mixed.

You raised two kids in your 20s before you were making a lot of money. Now you’re raising two little kids who will grow up rich. What are you going to teach them about money?   
Raising kids with money is a tricky thing. You don’t want to just hand them everything. I don’t know the best way to go about it. I’ve concluded that pretending you don’t have money is not the best way, because kids aren’t stupid. I can’t say what my parents said, which is “We can’t afford the $60 to send you on a band trip.” That won’t fly. The most money I ever made when my first two kids were little was $75,000 or something. I try to discuss this with people who have kids that are a little bit older than mine, and it’s always the small advice that’s the best advice: Make sure they do chores and get a reasonable allowance. You know, there’s that urban legend about the kids who have a private jet and the first time they fly commercial they ask their father, “Why are all these people on our plane?” I don’t ever want anything like that to happen.

How else is fatherhood different this time around?
When I had my oldest daughter, Katie, I was 24. I was doing morning radio in Tampa. Then I lost that job and I got a job in Palm Springs. So we moved across the country, and I would work from four in the morning till around 11 in the morning, and at the time my ex-wife worked too. So I’d pick Katie up from day care as quickly as I could, because we couldn’t afford the $5 an hour to keep her there longer. I’d have her all day till six or 6:30, when my ex-wife got home. That was a hard schedule. I was exhausted all the time. It’s much easier now, even though I’m busier, because we can afford to have a nanny. We both work full time, so we need that — but we can also afford it. Most of the pressure I felt with Katie came from me being a 25-year-old guy who had to keep the family afloat. It was not easy.

Photo: Bobby Doherty for New York Magazine

Even though it was tiring, do you miss spending the same amount of time with your younger kids as you did with your older ones?
No, I don’t. It’s not like I don’t see my kids. I have two hours with them in the morning and three hours with them when I get home from work. You want to have quality time with them — it’s much harder for parents who are with their kids 24/7 to enjoy that time together. I used to beg Katie to go to sleep, almost in tears, just so I could take a nap.

Is the shift in what you’re now willing to talk about on air the result of an actual political awakening on your part? Or does the arc from The Man Show to breaking down facts about the ACA and crying after the Las Vegas tragedy just look like a transformation from the outside?
There’s definitely been a shift in my feeling about the country over the last year or so. I feel frustrated. I don’t know — maybe a lot of it is media hysteria, but I go to bed worried and I wake up worried, and I honestly don’t know if things are going to be okay. I worry that we’re going to look back at Donald Trump almost fondly because someone worse will come after him.

So the shift is all Trump-related?
It’s a result of our Celebrity Apprentice president. I never imagined he would actually be elected. I remember joking about it: If you tried to think of the most extreme example of someone who would never be elected president, Trump was a name you’d throw in there. There was a time when I thought this country was much more likely to elect Maury Povich as president than Donald Trump. His election was shocking. It makes me question everything.

You’re not alone in that.
Yeah, the closest thing I can compare it to is when O.J. got acquitted. It never occurred to me that it might happen. There was so much overwhelming evidence that O.J. was guilty, and you believe in the American judicial system. You believe that, for the most part, if somebody did it, they’re going to prison for doing it. We’re in a similar situation: Everything Donald Trump is doing and undoing is bad, bad, bad, and it seems so obvious, and it’s happening anyway.

Whether it’s true or not I don’t know, but you were believed to have had a bipartisan audience.
I think that’s true.

Have you alienated everyone on the right who was watching Jimmy Kimmel Live!?
I think I’ve alienated more people than I’ve brought onboard. But what I thought was important was telling the truth. There are certain things I don’t understand, and the idea that Americans wouldn’t want to take care of each other when they’re sick is one of them. The idea that our politicians would let the gun lobby tell them what to do is another.

Can you ever win back any of those folks on the right that you’ve lost?
I doubt it. We’ve been divided into teams now as a country. It reminds me of sports in a lot of ways. It’s like in New York, you’re either a Mets fan or a Yankees fan. It’s so rare that an issue comes up that everyone can agree on. If we can’t get the majority of Americans to agree on some form of gun control after Sandy Hook, I don’t see us agreeing on anything.

The day after ACA repeal was voted down, you said something on the air like “We did it.” But the Republican senators who ultimately voted against it were the ones who, from the beginning, everyone thought would vote against it. So, realistically, how much of a difference do you think you made?
For me to say that I had an effect on that health-care vote would diminish what Susan Collins and John McCain and Lisa Murkowski and, for all the wrong reasons, Rand Paul did. Those were their decisions to make — courageous decisions as members of the Republican Party. I take no credit. I’ve got to tell you, people come up to me and say, “Thank you for speaking out on health care.” If I’m in public, it happens 30 times in a day. I always ask, “Have you called your congressman?” Most people sheepishly say they haven’t. We only have ourselves to blame for any of this. We need to be more aware and active citizens. America is not an Apple-terms-of-service agreement. It’s our country.

Aside from convincing some segment of America that you’re a moral authority, what’s the best prank you’ve pulled lately?
That probably is the best one. I have a couple pranks I’m working on right now. But a prank I did recently? I was at a U2 concert, and there was a person in the audience that had a vanity license plate that said U2 FAN, and I thought, That’s kind of cool. So I became interested in personalized vanity plates, and I learned that you can buy one for somebody as a gift.

A license plate that’s official that somebody could then put on their car?
Yeah, they can then take their old license plate and hand it to the DMV and use the new one. So we have a co–executive producer on the show named Jason Schrift, who’s a short man, and we call him Schrifty. So I had a license plate made that said SCHRMPY. Then we told him it was car-wash day, and I had one of our PAs, Joey, take his real license plate to the DMV and swap it with the SCHRMPY plate, and we installed it on the back of his car. I did the same thing to my bandleader, Cleto. He’s a sax player, and I had a license plate made that said SENOR SAXY.

Did they think that prank was funny?
Neither of them liked it. Cleto drove right to the DMV and got it switched, but Schrifty didn’t realize he could get the vanity plate swapped out immediately — he waited like four months. He got four months of abuse in the parking lot of his kid’s school. But that’s a fun prank for people to try with their friends. There’s a real loophole in the law.

I don’t see how you can make fun of a sax player when you play the bass clarinet.
This is a funny story: I quite unintentionally picked the nerdiest instrument to play — which is not the bass clarinet, it’s the B-flat regular clarinet. When I was in sixth grade, I wanted to play the trombone, but I thought trombones were called clarinets and signed up for clarinet class. I got to class and saw that some of the kids had clarinets. So I said, “I’m in the wrong class, I’m here to play the clarinet,” and I made the trombone motion. I remember the band director laughing really hard about that. Also, my mom had bought me that clarinet. I felt so guilty telling my mother that I didn’t want to play what I’d by then realized was the clarinet that I just decided to play it for the next, well, 35 years.

Now that you’ve spoken out on gun control and health care, are you being inundated with requests to advocate for other issues?
Yes, I am. I’m overwhelmed with requests to speak or be honored. It’s always weird to say, “No thank you, I don’t want to be honored.” But if I were to do all of that stuff, I would never see anyone in my family ever again. Sometimes people are like, “Hey, we want you to be honored in Washington, D.C., on a Tuesday night.” You know I do a show, right? It’s funny, I was at Bruce Springsteen the other night, and this guy comes up and asks me to host a charity event. I thought, He didn’t think of me till he saw me sitting there in the theater. It’s almost insulting in a way. Like, “Jimmy Kimmel’s over there. I’ll ask him to host.” He just saw me and thought he’d throw the lasso. I get that a lot.

What’d you think of the criticism you got on the right that you should’ve gone harder faster at Harvey Weinstein? There was this equivalency argument set up that since you’d been criticizing Republicans, you’d be a hypocrite if you were soft on a figure from the Hollywood left.
I guess now I’m supposed to comment on everything that happens? And by the way, it’s not just from the right. Now I see it from the left, “Aren’t you going to say anything about fill-in-the-blank?” That’s not what I do, and if I did, believe me, you’d get bored in a hurry. The Harvey Weinstein thing makes no sense: This perception that the right has spread around that I’ve not made any jokes about it is false.

Yeah, although facts don’t seem to be of interest to anyone. Secondly, we do the show Monday through Thursday. I didn’t see the Weinstein story break till shortly before the show started on a Thursday night, and then we had a rerun on Friday, so that’s why it wasn’t mentioned in our monologue. We would’ve had to go back and rewrite the whole show, and we’re not going to do that for someone who was then not even known to 90 percent of the country. I have no interest in protecting Harvey Weinstein. I couldn’t care less about Harvey Weinstein. Hopefully, he will get what he deserves and we’ll all move on with our lives.

Are the gross power dynamics in Hollywood about to change?
Because of Harvey?

I hope so. I definitely think it will make the guys who do this kind of thing think twice. But it’s silly to point at Hollywood specifically. Hollywood’s not so different than any other business.

One thing that’s different about Hollywood is that, right or wrong, it’s seen as a progressive, liberal environment. And when people in that environment, who often seem so quick to scold conservative morality, turn a blind eye — of course some people are going to relish that hypocrisy.
I don’t know. I mean, I remember hearing one story about Harvey, but it seemed designed to tarnish an actress. It was about some actress trading a sexual favor to get into a movie, and I always just assumed that it was probably untrue, and it was none of my business either way.

Is Weinstein someone you’re going to have to address at the Oscars next year? He’ll be the elephant in the room as a result of not being in the room.
I probably will. It’s not really a laughing matter. There’ll be a lot of people in that room who maybe have been through experiences with him, and that’s not something I want them to relive on the night they get their Oscar. 

Are you stockpiling Trump material for that night?
The Oscars are so far out. It’s hard to figure out what we’re going to say on the next show, let alone in March. There might not be an Oscars, because North Korea may have struck the Dolby Theatre.

Is a lot of the late-night political satire cheap? You can get a pretty easy laugh calling Donald Trump a big orange idiot or whatever. Are the talk-show hosts pandering?
In my case, the comedy is often cheap. I don’t think it’s pandering, but I love a cheap shot. I specialize in mixing deep shots with cheap shots. That’s also the title of the next Bon Jovi album.

Kimmel giving a tearful monologue about his son’s heart surgery.

Is Trump fatigue a worry? Can any of us sustain this mania for another three years?
I worry about my own fatigue because the audience can always tell if the host isn’t interested. So I worry about it, but there’s nothing you can do about it. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the world, and on the show there’s never a long-term plan. Everything just keeps going.

Has Fallon deserved all the criticism he’s gotten since we all became obsessed with politics?
This idea that Jimmy Fallon and his show are done, it’s just nonsense.
We’re judged on our number 18 to 49, and Jimmy Fallon’s still No. 1 in that category. Anybody that says he isn’t is ignorant to the realities of network television.

You don’t think his inability to find a way to talk organically about politics has hurt him?
The media likes to build you up and take you down and then build you up again and take you down again. That way there’s always a story. For a long period of time, they were dumping on Stephen Colbert. Now it’s time to dump on Jimmy Fallon. I’m sure in three months, it’ll be time for everyone to dump on me.

Fallon’s ratings are down.
They’re down, but they were so high. Television overall is down.

Your ratings are up.
Slightly. But it’s largely a factor of how well the network is doing. Eighty percent of late-night-television success is how well your network is doing at ten o’clock. We get The Good Doctor on Monday night, and it lifts our rating.

Does knowing that only a fraction of people who see a viral clip from your show will actually watch a full telecast change how you go about what you do?
I don’t think there was a viral late-night video before we made the “Fucking Matt Damon” video, and it changed the way we looked at the show — it’s something I fought against. It’s like being a musician: You don’t want people to just hear your single. We want people to buy the album, and if you only focus on singles, you can’t sell the album. I’ve always been focused on the whole show, and people are so focused on the comedy bits and the monologue that they oftentimes forget the guest segments, which are really the talk part of the talk show. It’s a struggle to keep yourself focused on that stuff. Maybe there will come a time when talk shows are just a monologue or a game with a celebrity and we don’t even bother to do the whole show anymore. That’s probably where we’re headed.

If the internet is offering proof that people want monologues and comedy bits rather than boring celebrity interviews, why not get rid of the boring celebrity interviews? Who actually cares about talk-show conventions?
The audience cares. I learned that it subconsciously cares very much about those conventions. It’s like a wedding: You can do a wedding a little bit differently, but ultimately —

You have to end with “I do” and a kiss.
That’s right. Human beings like conventions. We want them and we need them, for reasons unknown to me. The conventions of late-night talk shows have been tested over a long period of time. The most amazing thing is that when Steve Allen started doing a talk show, he had everything there, and we all kind of kept that footprint.

What evidence do you have to support the idea that audiences care about the conventional talk-show format?
It’s just a feel thing. It’s like if you did stand-up comedy in a bathing suit, people’s minds would only be on the bathing suit. A talk show is not about the desk or the seats, but if you remove those elements, it shifts the audience’s focus. And when you’re telling a joke, you don’t want to send the audience on any kind of a detour that leads them away from your punch lines.

I say blow the whole thing up. Do two comedy bits instead of talking to some boring celebrity. Why not?
The truth that nobody likes to talk about is that publicists run the world of talk shows. All of the talk shows would be more interesting if there wasn’t pressure from publicists. If you want a big star, you have to put on the publicist’s little star. And there’s so much competition among the talk shows that you have to play ball. That’s why a show like Howard Stern’s is so great: Howard laid this groundwork of never doing an interview that had conditions on it. Howard can also do a whole month of shows without a single celebrity guest. We don’t have that luxury. We’re doing the show that we sold to our networks; we were hired by our network to do a celebrity talk show. In the old days, Dave Letterman could mow through a guest and there would be no ramifications. But in my early days, when I would mow through a guest, a publicist who had 17 clients we wanted to have on would say, “Good-bye, we’re never coming back here again.” It gets pretty lonely after a while.

How much longer do you think a format that 16-year-olds have no attachment to is destined to last?
I think not only are talk shows going to survive, they’re going to multiply. You’re never going to have a show with the reach of — forget Johnny Carson — The Tonight Show With Jay Leno six years ago. You’re never going to have that again, but you are going to have talk shows geared toward an individual’s tastes. It might not be great for the big networks, but it’s great for the consumer. I don’t know if 16-year-olds are interested in TV talk shows, but they will be when there’s a 16-year-old hosting one, and there will be a 16-year-old hosting one.

Well, given the omnipresence of late-night talk shows, why do you think networks have been so resistant to giving a woman or a person of color a show?
There are biases. But somebody’s going to come along. The fact of the matter is there are many women who could’ve had late-night network talk shows if they wanted to.

You know that?
Yes, and there are many African-Americans who could have late-night talk shows if they wanted. If Chris Rock wanted a talk show, he would have one. If Amy Poehler had wanted one or Tina Fey had wanted one, they would have one.

But the question is not whether Chris Rock or Tina Fey could get one. The question is whether the non-white-guy equivalent of who you were in 2003 could get one.
I know what you mean. I think the market always decides, and when somebody great comes along, everybody’s going to go, Oh, yes, that’s what we should do. And by the way, everyone seems to forget Arsenio [Hall], who was on for six years and was quite popular. There was a guy who probably had more people watching him than all of us combined right now.

You’re considered an avatar for the “average” white guy at a time when “average” white guys are being held up as the problem.
There’s nothing more disgraceful than being a middle-aged white man. We should all be very ashamed of ourselves.

Is that totally wrong, though?
It’s stupid. As you might imagine, I was born with a penis to white parents. There’s not much I can do about it. If you’re against discrimination, you should be against all discrimination.

Aside from talking politics sincerely, what are your true strengths as a host?
I feel like what I do best is take a strong stand against stupid things, like, for instance, pumpkin-spice pizza. That’s what I’m best at. Ranting about different subjects is what I did on the radio — I’d do sports editorials and I’d yell about things, giving them oversize importance. That’s the most fun for me.

You’ve been doing your job for a while now.
For the most part.

You’ve been showing up, anyway. Do you have a sense of what your life after the show might be?
Some days I think about it 100 times. If you have a great show, you feel like you could do it forever, and if you have a bad show, you feel like you want to go home and never come back. It’s really just as simple as that, you know? If those 140 people sitting in front of me in the audience are laughing and enjoying the show, it makes it easier to imagine doing it for a long time. With the celebrity guests, I’m not of that mentality where it’s like, Oh, I have no interest in this person. It’s not like I’m going on a cruise with them. Realistically, I’m talking to them for 11 minutes. I can talk to anyone for 11 minutes. That’s not the part of the job that gets me down. It’s the relentlessness. It’s a grind.

What else would you want to do?
I think in my post-talk-show life, I’ll produce television shows. I like helping other people realize their visions. I did it with The Andy Milonakis Show that was on MTV. We came up with that show together, and it was on for three seasons — that was rewarding. Or I see shows like Nathan for You and I think, Boy, I’d love to be a part of that. I like pitching in. I don’t enjoy being the center of attention. I was not the class clown. I’m generally a shy person.

How does a shy person have your job?
Through no design of my own. I started in college radio, with probably nobody listening. Then I moved to commercial radio, where you’re basically alone with one other person in a room speaking into a microphone — you never really develop any stage fright. After that, I did some scripted promos: There’s no audience there. Then I started on Win Ben Stein’s Money, where I was the sidekick. I was able to just sit in the corner and crack wise. From there I graduated to doing The Man Show with Adam Carolla and we split the spotlight. So I got to this position very gradually. If you watch the early episodes of my talk show, you’ll see that I was very uncomfortable onstage. So I am shy. I’ve just been able to overcome it.

Do you have to psych yourself up to get onstage?
I always imagine it’s a little like being a prostitute, where you disassociate. It’s weird. Your bodily function shuts down when you’re onstage.
I’ve never once had to go to the bathroom while I was doing the show; if I have hiccups, they stop before I walk out there. It’s a very, very strange thing.

Do you think Ben Stein regrets working for Nixon? It’s hard to wipe that stink off.
I know Ben has very fond memories of Richard Nixon. Listen, it’s always different when you know somebody. There are probably people who loved working for Hitler, you know?

What’s the most interesting thing Ben ever said to you about politics?
Gosh, I really don’t know. Politics is a small percentage of what we talk about. The funniest thing for me with Ben is he thinks I’m a lot smarter than I am. I would say things that I felt were very obvious to him, and he would treat them as if they were great revelations. Like when Ben was competing against the contestants on the show, we reached the point by the fourth season where he was beating nine out of ten of them. He crushed everybody, and when he would lose that tenth game, he was so upset. Sometimes he didn’t want to come out of the dressing room because he was so depressed, and I’d go in and say, “Ben, you realize if you win every game, there’s no show.” That was always news to him; that would be what lifted his spirits. He’s such a character. When his dog died — the dog was named Puppy Wuppy — he stuffed the dog and he wanted to put it on the set. The producers were very concerned about a dead dog being on the set of a game show, and Ben could not understand why.

What’s a political subject you and he talked about lately?
He asked me how would you fund health care.

What’s the answer?
We’ll make the Mexicans pay for it.

This interview has been edited and condensed from two conversations.

Annotations by Matt Stieb.

*This article appears in the October 30, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.

Kimmel’s newborn son required open-heart surgery for a congenital defect in April, inspiring Kimmel to speak out on efforts to repeal Obamacare. “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life,” he said through tears. Kimmel co-hosted with Adam Carolla the Comedy Central horndog celebration of shock-jock entertainment (including
the Juggy Dance Squad) and over-the-top satire (like Kimmel in blackface as an inarticulate Karl Malone) from 1999 to 2004.
Kimmel married Molly McNeary, a co–head writer at the show, in 2013. They have a 3-year-old daughter, Jane, and a 7-month-old son, Billy. Kimmel has two children — Katie and Kevin — with his first wife, Gina Maddy, whom he met when he was 19. They were married from 1988 to 2002. Katie is an artist who makes playful ceramics of dogs and fruit, and Kevin does PA and sound work for TV. A bedrock of daytime television, ‘The Maury Povich Show’ offers a voyeuristic, if staged, look into the state of American marital strife from Povich’s studio in Stamford, Connecticut. You can thank Povich for the phrase “You are not the father.” Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, Kimmel said in his monologue after the Las Vegas shooting, “sent their thoughts and their prayers today, which is good. They should be praying. They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country.” Less than six months after Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, a bill to enact limits on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was rejected 60-40 in the Senate. Kimmel has long shared shock radio’s love of pranks. On The Man Show, he and Carolla would place fake poop and a $20 bill in a toilet and record who went for it. The duo were also co-creators of ‘Crank Yankers,’ a Comedy Central show in which puppets acted out prank calls by celebrities. Saxophonist and Jimmy Kimmel Live! bandleader Cleto Escobedo grew up across the street from Kimmel in Las Vegas. “I was nervous, because I thought they’d say, ‘We don’t want your friend to be the bandleader,’ ” Kimmel told New York’s ABC.7 “So I took the president of ABC to see him play with his band, and he loved it.” Kimmel has played his clarinet with artists like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Huey Lewis. Donald Trump Jr. accused Kimmel of ignoring Harvey Weinstein’s record of sexual assault. Kimmel responded by posting the “Grab ’em by the pussy” audio for him to enjoy while he waited for Weinstein jokes. In 2008, Kimmel’s then-girlfriend Sarah Silverman made a mocking video for Jimmy Kimmel Live! in which she and Damon confess to all the places they’ve done the deed. Steve Allen hosted ‘Tonight!’ from 1954 to 1957 and introduced the monologue, celebrity interviews, outside-the-studio bits, and a house band. In his last year hosting The Tonight Show, Jay Leno averaged 3.82 million viewers each night. In October, Kimmel led the late-night pack with an audience of 2.36 million. Arsenio Hall’s 1989-to-1994 late-night run featured hip-hop, wrestlers, and an appearance from sax-and-sunglasses Bill Clinton that helped him secure the youth and African-American vote in 1992. Andy Milonakis, an adult with a growth-hormone deficiency that makes him appear adolescent, would prank strangers on the Lower East Side and cast LES residents in his absurdist sketches. Nathan Fielder deadpans as a bumbling business consultant helping real, struggling businesses with complex and brilliantly stupid promotions. From 1997 to 2002, Ben Stein hosted Comedy Central’s Win Ben Stein’s Money, where he played against contestants to win prize money from the $5,000 Stein earned each episode. Kimmel co-hosted for three years. Stein, a speechwriter for presidents Nixon and Ford, moved on to entertainment (he was the monotone teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and conservative media.
Suddenly, Jimmy Kimmel Is Our Cronkite