A version of this story appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
Jimmy Kimmel was never the most overly political of late-night hosts but in the last year he has emerged as one of President Trump’s sharpest critics.
It all began when he talked about the heart ailment of his newborn son and used it
in a passionate defense of Obamacare that played a part in the failure of an attempted repeal.
In that moment — and frequently since then — Kimmel has been a valuable comic voice of reason, speaking out in a way that hit home for many, and that has gotten “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” recognized again by Emmy voters as a nominee for Variety Talk Series. He sat down with TheWrap to discuss his unusual new position in the late-night and cultural landscape.
Among late-night hosts these days, is it a badge of honor to be called a “no-talent” by President Trump?
Well, if you do get left off that list, you can’t help but be disappointed.
How dramatically has he changed what you do?
Oh, I don’t know. How dramatically did the plague change medieval times? He fills my head and my monologue and my prescriptions, all at once. He’s omnipresent. Even topics that have nothing to do with Trump, somehow he ends up in there.
Do you try not to have him dominate the monologue every night?
We try, and we fail on an almost daily basis. Ultimately, our approach is to cover the news of the day. And he is the news of the day, every day and every night.
In a way, it seems as if late-night shows have become the center of the resistance to this administration.
It does. What’s going on in Washington makes most everything else you might have talked about feel trivial. That’s a tough spot to be in — but make no mistake, we will be around long after he’s gone.
People think he makes it easier for us. They say, “Oh boy, I bet you love all this material.” No, I do not.
With the country as divided as it is, do you run the risk of alienating part of your potential viewership?
That train left the station a long time ago. Alienation is complete. We are living on two different planets, and one is unrecognizable from the other.
When you started talking about health care because of your son, some people were surprised that you had ventured into that area. Were you consciously trying to change your approach?
I don’t know if it was a change in my approach as much as it was a change in people’s perception of me as a human being. I think it’s easy to create a caricature for someone, and I had certainly contributed to that. But I love my children just as every other parent does, and I saw what was happening in that hospital, and it was at a time when health care was being threatened. And I thought if I could make something good come out of it …
Will it be more fun to go to the Emmys this year, when you’re not hosting?
It’s a million times more fun. No pressure at all. Never do I have a moment where I think, “I wish I was on that stage.” In fact, I hope they don’t even ask me to present. It’s always more fun to watch.
To read more of TheWrap’s Down to the Wire issue, click here.