Did you know there is an exclamation point in the name of Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show? Well, there is. The name of the show — starring the longest-running host in the late-night game — is officially Jimmy Kimmel Live! But I would like to suggest something: It’s time to put a stop to it. It’s time to drop the exclamation point. Yes, it has been there since the show debuted in 2003, but there are more reasons to get rid of it than to keep it at this point. It’s aesthetically weird. It’s functionally inconvenient. It’s disingenuous. It’s like … why?! It’s time to get it out of here. Enough!
First, we must understand why it is there in the first place. By looking at the history of the show’s logos, it’s clear it is not about being thrilled to see Kimmel. The show is not called Jimmy Kimmel! Live! If anything, it’s more like Jimmy Kimmel. Live! When we talk about there being an exclamation point in Jimmy Kimmel Live!, we are talking about Live. If it pleases the court, I submit Exhibit A!, an early logo for the show:
The Live was inside the exclamation point back then. They are one. Even as the show updated its visuals, Live! has remained delineated. See Exhibit B!:
Live with an exclamation point conveys old showbiz. It’s marquee culture along with things like “for one night only” and describing a performance as “an evening.” The title and its style likely were meant to bring glamour to zhlubby, post–Man Show Kimmel. Maybe it was even meant as a bit of a post-ironic wink à la Airplane! Still, Live with an exclamation point mostly conveys that the show is live and that that is exciting. And a live show is exciting! But … Jimmy Kimmel Live! is not “live,” let alone “live!” It hasn’t been since 2004, with rare exceptions. Sure, the show is performed “live” in front of an audience, but that is like when Don Draper tried to market Lucky Strikes around being “toasted” despite the fact that all cigarettes were toasted. Given all this, the exclamation point feels less like a deliberate creative decision and more like a graphic-design choice, hastily made in the run-up to launch, that has just stuck around. But aesthetically, it is redundant. It is unnecessary. Drop the “!” — it’s cleaner.
It would also make things so much easier. Nearly 15 years ago, Panic! At the Disco dropped the “!” because “it got a little bit annoying” to type it out. And I can say, even during the writing of this blog post, that it is annoying to include the exclamation point when typing Jimmy Kimmel Live! because Google docs auto-capitalizes the next letter even if it isn’t a new sentence, like the b in because in this very sentence. Ugh! Panic! At the Disco later put the exclamation point back in their name as a sort of symbolic nod to the old days and to communicate a return to form for their third album. Kimmel’s “!,” on the other hand, is all sound and fury, signifying nothing. If anything, he should take a lesson from Panic! At the Disco and remove it so it allows him to eventually bring it back as part of a “your old friend Jimmy Kimmel” nostalgia-based advertising campaign in the future. At least then all the effort would mean something.
So why is the exclamation point still there now? The same reason we still manufacture the penny despite the fact that the production and material cost more than one cent: No one has the will to push the change through. I recently spoke to someone who works at the show about this, and while their specific response was off the record, the gist was that they truly do not care. After that, I reached out to Kimmel’s reps for an official comment on his feelings about the exclamation point, and Kimmel came back with this: “It excites me.” Knowing Kimmel, I feel like he partly said this to annoy me. Look, love the guy, but he is undeniably a sick little prank freak. Is it enough if it’s only there to appease Kimmel’s desire for excitement? Hmmm, sounds like fascism to me — something Kimmel, in recent years, has implied he is against. This is why I am stepping up and speaking out now more than ever.
The solution to this is easy: Drop the exclamation point, and change the name of the show to simply Kimmel. One of the absolute cutest things about our culture is that we refer to the names of late-night shows by the names of the hosts. And it is always just one name, be it last (Kimmel, Fallon, Letterman, Leno, Carson) or first (Seth, Conan, Chelsea, Amber, Ziwe). It’s like we are talking about running into a friend. It is scientifically proven to be one of the best things about America. What exactly would the show lose by dropping the Jimmy and the Live anyway? There are other Jimmys in late night, and, again, the show is not live!
In conclusion, the time is now. Sorry, the time is now! There should be an exclamation point after Kimmel’s name only when it’s a sentence about how something cool happened on the show. (“What is the show that used to ruin little kids’ Halloween every year?” “That would be Jimmy Kimmel Live!”) The only punctuation that should be allowed in a TV-show title is a colon when following the words law and order. Also, Gutfeld! has an exclamation point in its name, so YIKES.