It was exactly 20 years ago on January 26, 2003, when Jimmy Kimmel left Comedy Central and came to network television to host ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’
Kimmel expressed his gratitude to everyone who has helped make the show what it is today and walked down memory lane to show how long he’s been on the airwaves.
“Thank you. I appreciate that,” Kimmel said, as he was met with thunderous applause from his studio audience. “I’m not retiring. This is just an anniversary show.”
Kimmel joked that his late-night show was an instant hit after reading reviews after the show first debuted in 2003.
“And right out of the gate – we were an immediate hit,” Kimmel said. “The next day ‘The New Yorker’ said… ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live,’ a dead on-arrival talk show with a charisma-free host.'”
Kimmel continued, “The Seattle Post-Intelligencer raved… ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live,’ is a gloopy mess. Not an interesting, Jackson Pollock-ish mess either. More like the kind of mess created by a sick infant with a leaky diaper.'”
Kimmel read the last review and said, “And Salon.com wrote, ‘Tuesday night’s show ended on a particularly sad note when Kimmel was reduced to announcing that the next night’s lineup would consist of some musical guests and — whoever else happened to turn up. Somebody, please help him.'”
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” started out dead last in the ratings behind “TLate Show with David Letterman,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” ‘Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” and “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.”
But over the next few years, Kimmel would become a competitor with Jay Leno. Now 20 years later, Kimmel’s show is the longest-running late-night talk show on the network, ABC.
Kimmel took out time in his monologue to thank the suits at ABC and even got a little emotional as he thanked his co-workers.
“Why these people at ABC hired me, I still have no idea,” Kimmel said. “Bob Iger, Michael Davies, [and] Lloyd Braun. Listen, I’m gonna be honest. You should all have been fired for this. And, in fact, two of you were fired for that. But thank you.”
Kimmel continued, “Very few people – expected us to make it this far. But we did. For two reasons. Number one – I made a great deal with the devil. Just – my soul is gonna roast.”
“Number two. We have and have had so many great people – starting with our executive producers,” Kimmel said.
Kimmel took a moment and paused while he looked at a life-size poster of the late Frank Potenza, who played “Uncle Frank.”
“Let me take a beat. You had to put this right here, huh?”
Watch the video above to see Kimmel’s full monologue and see him grow emotional as he thanks, Guillermo.