Chatshow host, Jimmy Kimmel, on the pros and cons of rudeness
ESQUIRE: The way you do your interviews seems more unfiltered than a lot of the other chat show hosts. For example, if I ever called Mel Gibson “sugar t*ts” when interviewing him I’d be escorted from the building…
JIMMY KIMMEL: It’s a lack of professionalism, really. All through my life, for some reason, I’ve been able to get away with saying things other people would consider rude, and I don’t really know why. My mom was the same way. She was named class wit in high school and I remember being impressed by that when I was a kid. I said, “Why were you the class wit in high school?” She goes, “I would just say things to people that were true, and they’d laugh. They’d think I was joking”.
ESQ: Have any of your questions ever gone down badly?
JK: Oh, yeah. You only see the good stuff. There’s a disaster at least once a week. At least.
ESQ: Who have you upset the most?
JK: The actress Vivica Fox almost left the show once because I tried to get her to take me to Star Jones’ wedding, and Star and I had kind of… let’s say on-air rivalry. Vivica agreed to take me, not knowing about this. And then when Star Jones called and screamed at her the next day, she was not happy with me. So every once in a while something unpleasant will happen, and I like that more than the funny moments.
ESQ: Talk me through one of your mistakes.
JK: I did a programme called The Man Show on Comedy Central where we gave the audience beer and found that they were a lot livelier; so we thought: why not do that here too? We presented it to ABC and they said, “Yeah, okay”. Then the first night a girl in the audience vomited during the show. That was the end of the drinking, right there on very first night.
ESQ: Anything else that you have learned along the way?
JK: It’s not even a matter of what we can and can’t do; it’s a matter of refining the show and learning how to interact with people so that they might come back one day. At the beginning I went through guests like a threshing machine. Every night somebody was mad about something. It’s learning that it’s not it’s necessarily about that one night. It’s about years of doing the show. Hopefully.
For Esquire Magazine. TV_Kimmel