James Christian Kimmel is an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer. He is the host and executive producer of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, a late-night talk show that premiered on ABC on January 26, 2003, at Hollywood Masonic Temple in Hollywood, California; and on April 1, 2019, at a secondary home, the Zappos Theater on the Las Vegas Strip. Kimmel hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards in 2012, 2016 and 2020, and the Academy Awards in 2017 and 2018.
Before hosting Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Kimmel was the co-host of Comedy Central's The Man Show and Win Ben Stein's Money. Kimmel has also produced such shows as Crank Yankers, Sports Show with Norm Macdonald, and The Andy Milonakis Show. In 2018, Time named him as one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People". Kimmel is the longest-working of all current late-night talk show hosts in the United States, following Conan O’Brien’s retirement from hosting a late-night program.
Inspired by David Letterman's start in radio, Kimmel began working in radio while in high school. He was the host of a Sunday night interview show on UNLV's college station, KUNV. While attending Arizona State University, he became a popular caller to the KZZP-FM afternoon show hosted by radio personalities Mike Elliott and Kent Voss in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1989, Kimmel landed his first paying job alongside Voss as morning drive co-host of The Me and Him Show at KZOK-FM in Seattle, Washington. Over the next 10 months, the hosts performed several stunts on air, including one that led to an $8,000 loss in advertising.
In 1990, Kimmel and Voss were fired by KZOK and were fired again a year later at WRBQ-FM in Tampa, Florida. Kimmel went on to host his own show at KCMJ in Palm Springs, California, where he recruited Carson Daly, who had been a family friend since his childhood, as his intern. After a morning stint at KRQQ in Tucson, Arizona, Kimmel landed at KROQ-FM in Los Angeles. He spent five years as "Jimmy The Sports Guy" for the Kevin and Bean morning show. During this time he met and befriended the comedian Adam Carolla.
Kimmel, who initially did not want to do television, began writing for Fox announcers and promotions and was quickly recruited to do the on-air promotions himself. He declined several offers for television shows from producer Michael Davies, being uninterested in the projects, until he was offered a place as the comedic counterpart to Ben Stein on the game show Win Ben Stein's Money, which began airing on Comedy Central in 1997. His quick wit and "everyman" personality were counterpoints to Stein's monotonous vocal style and faux-patrician demeanor. The combination earned the pair an Emmy award for Best Game Show Host.
In 1999, during his time on Win Ben Stein's Money, Kimmel co-hosted (with Adam Carolla) and co-produced (with Daniel Kellison), Comedy Central's The Man Show. Kimmel left Win Ben Stein's Money in 2001 and was replaced by comedian Nancy Pimental, who was eventually replaced by Kimmel's cousin Sal Iacono. The Man Show's success allowed Kimmel, Carolla, and Kellison to create and produce, under the banner Jackhole Productions, Crank Yankers for Comedy Central (on which Kimmel plays the characters "Elmer Higgins", "Terrence Catheter", "The Nudge", "Karl Malone" and himself) and later The Andy Milonakis Show for MTV2. Kimmel also produced and co-wrote the feature film Windy City Heat, Festival Prize winner of the Comedia Award for Best Film at the 2004 Montreal Comedy Festival.
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
In January 2003, Kimmel permanently left The Man Show to host his own late-night talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, on ABC. In the April 2007 issue of Stuffmagazine.com, Kimmel was named the "biggest badass on TV". Kimmel said it was an honor but clearly a mistake.
Despite its name, the show has not actually aired live since 2004, when censors were unable to properly bleep censor a barrage of swearing from actor Thomas Jane.
During the 2004 NBA Finals in Detroit, Kimmel appeared on ABC's halftime show to make an on-air plug for his show. He suggested that if the Detroit Pistons defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, "they're gonna burn the city of Detroit down ... and it's not worth it." Officials with Detroit's ABC affiliate, WXYZ-TV, immediately announced that that night's show would not air on the station. Hours later, ABC officials pulled that night's show from the entire network. Kimmel later apologized.
Kimmel usually ends his show with "My apologies to Matt Damon, we ran out of time." When Matt Damon did actually appear on the show to be interviewed, he walked in and sat down only to be told just a few seconds later by Kimmel, "Unfortunately, we are totally out of time," followed by "my apologies to Matt Damon." Damon appeared angry but both performers have since indicated that their faux-feud is a joke.
In February 2008, Kimmel showed a mock music video with a panoply of stars called "I'm Fucking Ben Affleck", as "revenge" after his then-girlfriend Sarah Silverman and Damon recorded a similar video titled "I'm Fucking Matt Damon". Silverman's video originally aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and became an "instant YouTube sensation." Kimmel's "revenge" video featured himself, Ben Affleck, and a large lineup of stars, particularly in scenes spoofing the 1985 "We Are the World" video: Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, Cameron Diaz, Robin Williams, Harrison Ford, Dominic Monaghan, Benji Madden and Joel Madden from Good Charlotte, Lance Bass, Macy Gray, Josh Groban, Huey Lewis, Perry Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Pete Wentz, Meat Loaf, Rebecca Romijn, Christina Applegate, Dom Joly, Mike Shinoda, Lauren Conrad, and Joan Jett, among others.
After this, Kimmel's sidekick, Guillermo, appeared in a spoof of The Bourne Ultimatum, which starred Damon. He was then chased down by Damon, who was cursing about Kimmel being behind all this. Guillermo also stopped Damon on the red carpet one time and, before he could finish the interview, said, "Sorry, we are out of time." The most recent encounter was titled "The Handsome Men's Club" which featured Kimmel, along with the "Handsome Men", who were: Matthew McConaughey, Rob Lowe, Lenny Kravitz, Patrick Dempsey, Sting, Keith Urban, John Krasinski, Ethan Hawke, Josh Hartnett, Tony Romo, Ted Danson, Taye Diggs, Gilles Marini, and Ben Affleck, speaking about being handsome and all the jobs that come with it. At the end of the skit, Kimmel has a door slammed in his face by Damon, who says they have run out of time and laughs sinisterly. Jennifer Garner also makes a surprise appearance. As a tradition, celebrities voted off Dancing with the Stars appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, causing Kimmel to describe himself as "the three-headed dog the stars must pass on their way to No-Dancing Hell."
During a November 2022 appearance on Stitcher’s "Naked Lunch" podcast, Kimmel revealed he told ABC executives, soon after the election of Donald Trump, that if he could not tell Trump jokes, then he would leave the show. Kimmel also indicated the executives were correct, and he lost approximately half of his audience during that time.
In October 2013, a new segment of the show, "Kids Table", showcased five- and six-year-olds discussing the U.S. government shutdown and U.S. debts. When one of the children suggested "killing all the people in China" as a way of resolving the U.S. debt, Kimmel responded that that was "an interesting idea" and soon jokingly asked a followup: "Should we allow the Chinese to live?" The incident triggered discussions and protests on Internet, even from Mainland China. In an October 25 letter to a group called the 80-20 Initiative, which identifies itself as a pan-Asian-American political organization, ABC apologized for the segment, saying "We would never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large."
More than a hundred people took to the streets in San Francisco on October 28 to protest the show and demand "a more elaborate apology" and that Kimmel be fired. On that day's broadcast, Kimmel addressed the controversy personally, saying: "I thought it was obvious that I didn't agree with that statement, but apparently it wasn't ... So I just wanted to say, I'm sorry, I apologize." Despite the apologies from ABC and Kimmel, protests continued. A White House petition was created to investigate the incident and reached the 100,000 signatures needed to require a response from the White House. The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus denounced the incident and demanded a formal apology from ABC.