How Jimmy Kimmel Went From Frat Boy to Late Night’s Liberal Dad

“My vision of hell is a bunch of monitors with my old shows running on them,” Kimmel told Vulture.

Now Kimmel has gotten a sense of what hell might feel like after blackface impersonations he did of celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Karl Malone on The Man Show resurfaced in June. “I have long been reluctant to address this,” Kimmel began his apology in a statement obtained by CNN on Tuesday. But rather than focus on the racism of his sketches, referring to makeup artists tasked with making him “look as much like Karl Malone as possible,” Kimmel seems to focus on how these past sketches have been weaponized to specifically hurt his recently built brand of a progressive-leaning television host. “Looking back, many of these sketches are embarrassing, and it is frustrating that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices,” he said.

“I love this country too much to allow that,” he continued. “I won’t be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas.”

For Kimmel, his blackface impersonations and the frat boy degradation that made The Man Show a hit are just an embarrassing aspect of his past, a blip of immaturity in a career that has since been reformed by his show Jimmy Kimmel Live! and gigs like hosting the Oscars. In recent years, Kimmel has been outspoken about healthcare reform in America and has called out President Trump on his late-night show. But The Man Show—both its racism and sexism—laid the foundation for his current, high profile success. It’s also the reason why viewers, comforted by the reassuring political centrism of late-night television, continue to consider Kimmel an authority.

Kimmel officially broke into television in the late 1990s as the host for Win Ben Stein’s Money, the only game-show on Comedy Central in 1999, after previously working in radio as a sports reporter for Los Angeles’s KROQ. On the show, contestants played against the droll conservative speechwriter turned actor, Ben Stein, answering general trivia questions to win a portion of Stein’s paycheck. And while Kimmel wasn’t the star of the show—Stein was center stage, antagonizing contestants and answering questions—he honed his early comic voice as a TV host. “Did some kind of homo bomb explode backstage?” he asked one episode, remarking on how multiple contestants in one episode were gay.

Win Ben Stein’s Money was a success for Comedy Central, winning six Daytime Emmy awards, and the network continued to bank on Kimmel as a starring host. In 1999, the network debuted the Kimmel-created Man Show, billed as a guy’s program for guys, like a talk show with Hooters-like branding. Beer flowed freely, and women, known as “The Juggy Dance Squad,” ran through the audience, pausing for careful close-ups of their breasts. In their rolling on the street segment, the show sent out its “Man Show Boy,” an actual child, to ask grown women on the street if they’d have sex with him. Meanwhile, Carolla and Kimmel described the show as a truth-speaking “dam to hold back the feminization that is flooding this country” and a “dam to stop the river of estrogen that is drowning us in political correctness.”

Illustration for article titled How Jimmy Kimmel Went From iThe Man Show/i to Become Late Nights Woke Dad

Fighting the good fight against political correctness, the show continually criticized Oprah for “brainwashing” women, calling her a “money-grubbing pig.” And Kimmel complained about his now ex-wife Gina frequently. “Is it so much to ask for you to churn a little butter every once in a while?” he says one episode. “Just a few areas I’d like you to look at, jiggle butt, nothing major, we’ll get them taken care of.” Later, Kimmel goes through his wife’s bathroom cabinets to find out what takes her so long to get ready and points to a loofah. “This is supposed to get cellulite off your ass and thighs,” he notes.

The show was a hit and found an immediate audience, especially among men who welcomed a male viewpoint they perceived as being silenced by network television. At the time of its release, The Man Show entered an entertainment industry crowded with popular movies and TV shows that celebrated unbridled masculinity, from dramas like Office Space and Fight Club to comedic fares like American Pie and the MTV prank show Jackass. The Man Show had the shock jock spirit of a radio show like Howard Stern and the goofy immaturity of Adam Sandler movies like Billy Madison, so it’s no surprise that the show found an eager audience ready to lap up its frat boy schtick. “In today’s politically correct society, it’s refreshing to see someone who’s not afraid to be himself and champion the cause of enjoying what men like to do—with tongue firmly in cheek,” wrote Bob Barnes for the website BeerDude.com in an interview with Kimmel.

Kimmel, who also served as head writer for 77 episodes, embraced his Man Show personae in interviews. “I think as a group men are smarter than women, of course, and I will defend that to my death,” Kimmel said in an interview with NYTV in the show’s early days. “There’s a reason why men are in charge of the world and they have been since humans were here, and it’s because we’re just a little more clever than the female of our species.” The excessive, dopey masculinity of the show, the harping on “bitching and moaning women,” led critics to question if Kimmel and Carolla were playing off these stereotypes as satire, or earnestly embodying them. “The Man Show stops being funny once you realize that’s the whole joke,” Variety wrote in 1999.

But it didn’t matter whether or not the two were engaging a self-consciously snickering critique of misogyny, because the show plainly reaped the benefits of its messaging. The Man Show was immediately popular, reportedly drawing more than 2 million households per episode in late 1999 and became Comedy Central’s second most popular show after South Park. Kimmel and Carolla eventually exited The Man Show, making way for comedians Doug Stanhope and Joe Rogan, but the show ended in 2004 shortly after the new hosts took the stage.

In 2003, Kimmel landed at ABC for a new comedy show originally intended as a substitute for the recently canceled Politically Incorrect hosted by Bill Maher (who lost the job after he commented that the hijackers who orchestrated the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers were not cowards). As he took his spot at ABC, immediately Kimmel was explaining to press that he wasn’t the crass, sexist jerk who occupied the leather recliner at The Man Show. “The idea that I am this guy who runs around snapping people in the ass with a towel, that’s not really me,” Kimmel said in a 2002 Observer piece. “I like to think there is a little more to me than that. I know there is.”

But even as Kimmel distanced himself from The Man Show, his success at ABC depended on viewers identifying with the personae he cultivated for five seasons. What the network really wanted was the 18 to 34 male demographic, which had largely been captured by David Letterman and Jay Leno. And the show tried to infuse stuffy ABC with a little of Comedy Central’s raunch; the show, just as The Man Show did, had a bar for the audience, but after an audience member vomited too close to a Disney executive the bar was nixed from the show in its first few weeks.

The desperation to appeal to young male viewers can be seen in its early guests: Snoop Dogg, who repeatedly flipped the middle finger and had to be censored with ABC stickers on screen, The Rock, and musicians like Coldplay and 50 Cent. A recurring segment in which comedian Andy Milonakis interviewed and pranked people on the street recalled the “Man Show Boy” bit and celebrity-filled video sketches like “I’m Fucking Ben Affleck” defined his voice in late night.

In the beginning, Kimmel joked about how Jimmy Kimmel Live! wouldn’t work out (“I will be fired from this job, it’s just a matter of how long it’s going to take,” he told Diane Sawyer in 2003), it wasn’t a failure, though certainly not a break-out success initially. By 2005 Jimmy Kimmel Live! was averaging 1.8 million viewers, whereas the Tonight Show with Jay Leno was averaging 5.8 million. Critics admired the way in which Kimmel didn’t talk down to his audience and the lack of formality in interviews. The green room for the show was covered as if it were a nightclub, as models and celebrities who weren’t even going to appear on the show tried to get in on weekend nights.

But over the years, Jimmy Kimmel Live! was largely apolitical. While jokes about politics factored into his monologues and persona, they were never the star of the show. It wasn’t until Trump was elected in 2016 that Kimmel’s programming became explicitly more political. The moment that seemed to solidify Kimmel’s image as an activist and not just a jokey commentator was a year later when the late-night host devoted a monologue to a personal story about his son Billy who was born with a heart condition. He used the extremely emotional speech as a springboard for future monologues repeatedly urging viewers to hold lawmakers accountable for healthcare reform and keeping the Affordable Care Act intact, including sparring with elected officials like Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy.

That President Barack Obama was singling out Kimmel for being well-spoken on issues like the ACA underscored the differences between Kimmel and his late-night counterparts. Competitors like James Corden and Jimmy Fallon, whose shows are full of zany game show bits and family-friendly comedy meant to go viral, were flailing after the election of Trump. After Fallon’s 2016 interview during which he playfully rumpled Trump’s hair, critics and viewers accused him of being too bipartisan. Late-night hosts were suddenly being judged by where they fell on the political spectrum, and amid playful centrists like Seth Meyers and overtly political comedians like John Oliver, Kimmel had decided to not stay on the jokes-only side of the debate.

“How do you walk on stage and ignore it? You can’t,” Kimmel told The Hollywood Reporter in 2019. “It’s hard for me to talk about serious subjects, it takes a lot out of me. I want to be funny and it’s not fun doing anything like that.”

Kimmel is not a political radical, but in late night’s centrism, his voice has emerged as something critics and viewers celebrate. The late-night host believes his past at The Man Show, the gross sketches, the blackface, the sexism, was simply poorly executed satire long behind him; he’s now a reformed political commentator. But Jimmy Kimmel Live! exists because of The Man Show, and Kimmel can only be the down-to-earth late-night dad because he was once a beer-guzzling, sexist, a so-called “average dude,” that complained about his wife and enjoyed gazing at hot chicks. Kimmel seems to know this, as when he told Vulture that “to hear someone like me talk about equal rights for homosexual people hits harder than when people hear [Ellen DeGeneres] talk about it… to hear the guy from The Man Show.” To Kimmel, his straightness, and his history of speaking as a gleeful misogynist, actually makes him more of an authority on something like gay rights because he’s speaking from a place of straight “objectivity” instead of the real, lived experience of a gay person.

The template for America’s late-night host is that of a “regular” white guy in a nice suit, his authority as a commentator, no matter what his background, baked into the program itself. Men trusted and laughed with Kimmel on The Man Show, and they do so today during his late-night slot. Jimmy Kimmel is not successful in spite of his past work but because of it, and all the rowdy audience members who cleaned up and followed him to ABC for a different kind of man show, but a man show nonetheless.

This content was originally published here.

Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club Officially Launches at The LINQ Promenade with Appearances from Celebrity Guests and Friends

Sarah Silverman, Gordon Ramsay, Guillermo Rodriguez, Aunt Chippy and many more on hand as Jimmy Kimmel Opens his First-Ever Comedy Club with Marquee Lighting Celebration and All-Star Comedic Lineup


Jun 17, 2019, 14:34 ET


LAS VEGAS, June 17, 2019 — The newest chapter of comedy on the Las Vegas Strip has begun! In partnership with Caesars Entertainment, Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club at The LINQ Promenade was officially launched on Friday night with a grand opening celebration featuring appearances from some of Kimmel’s closest friends, family and well-known comedians. Celebrity guests spotted on the special evening included Sarah Silverman, sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez, sports analyst, podcaster and founder of The Ringer, Bill Simmons, multi-Michelin Star chef Gordon Ramsay, Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis, Cousin Sal, Aunt Chippy and many more. The Emmy Award-winning host and Las Vegas native received a heroic hometown welcome from fans gathered on The LINQ Promenade to watch as Jimmy addressed the crowd and officially opened the doors to his first-ever comedy club with an exciting marquee-lighting event.

Jimmy Kimmel's Comedy Club Grand Opening
Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club Grand Opening
Jimmy Kimmel's Comedy Club Grand Opening (Photo Credit: Kabik Photo Group)
Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club Grand Opening (Photo Credit: Kabik Photo Group)
Jimmy Kimmel's Comedy Club Grand Opening (Photo Credit: Kabik Photo Group)
Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club Grand Opening (Photo Credit: Kabik Photo Group)
Jimmy Kimmel's Comedy Club Grand Opening - Marquee Celebration (Photo Credit: Kabik Photo Group)
Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club Grand Opening – Marquee Celebration (Photo Credit: Kabik Photo Group)
Jimmy Kimmel's Comedy Club Grand Opening - Shaun Swanger, Jason Gastwirth, Jimmy Kimmel, Tony Rodio, Michael Gruber, Damian Costa (Photo Credit: Kabik Photo Group)
Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club Grand Opening – Shaun Swanger, Jason Gastwirth, Jimmy Kimmel, Tony Rodio, Michael Gruber, Damian Costa (Photo Credit: Kabik Photo Group)
Jimmy Kimmel's Comedy Club Grand Opening - Chris Tucker, Jimmy Kimmel, Pete Holmes, Sarah Silverman (Photo Credit: Kabik Photo Group)
Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club Grand Opening – Chris Tucker, Jimmy Kimmel, Pete Holmes, Sarah Silverman (Photo Credit: Kabik Photo Group)

 Experience the interactive Multichannel News Release here: https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8479655-jimmy-kimmels-comedy-club-linq/

“It’s a pleasure to celebrate what I am certain will be a long partnership with Jimmy Kimmel at The LINQ Promenade,” said Caesars Entertainment President and CEO Tony Rodio. “I can tell you that the venue reflects a true creative collaboration between Jimmy, his team and friends, as well as Caesars, to create a Comedy Club that’s an ideal, intimate setting for the performers and audience.”

Kimmel was also gifted from Rodio and Caesars Entertainment a custom, authentic UNLV 1990 Runnin’ Rebels NCAA National Championship ring. Kimmel expressed his gratitude for the gift, and he spoke graciously to the energetic crowd, thanking them for their support and sharing his thanks to the Caesars Entertainment team who helped make his vision a reality.  

“The best part of it is when I come to Las Vegas, I have a great place to hang and see some really great comedians,” said Kimmel from the red carpet. “The club already feels like my home given the bar area was designed to look like my bar at home. I’m really excited for our guests to try the cocktails and the food selections as many were inspired by my friends and family.”

Inside the namesake club, Jimmy Kimmel kicked off the evening with opening remarks and toast. With a grand opening show opened by sister Jill Kimmel, Kimmel welcomed headliner Gina Brillon, as well as surprise drop-in sets from Sarah Silverman, Pete Holmes and Chris Tucker.   

Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club captures the spirit of classic Vegas with late night shows, surprise guests, high-end casual cuisine and memorabilia. The club will showcase comedians ranging from household names to up-and-coming talent curated by Kimmel and his team in a venue specifically designed by Jimmy. The dual-level 8,000 square-foot venue has an expandable showroom that seats up to 300 guests.

Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club boasts a full menu of high-end casual cuisine featuring a variety of artisan pizzas, appetizers, grilled sandwiches and desserts. Also, the lineup of craft cocktails and mocktails were invented with a personalized touch. Drinks are named for people and places in Jimmy’s life- such as the bourbon-based Aunt Chippy and tequila inspired Guillermo.  With a full kitchen and service staff, guests can enjoy bites and libations before, during and after performances.  Daily happy hour is from 4 – 6 p.m. with $3 beers, $5 shots, well drinks and wine and $7 for food and signature cocktails.

Sponsored by LG Business Solutions, Ciroc and Jet Suite X, the evening’s festivities gave fans and guests of Jimmy a first look at the newest attraction to hit The LINQ Promenade.

With the bar open daily at 4 p.m., Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club will showcase comedic performances Thursday to Sunday at 8 p.m. with additional shows at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For tickets and more information, visit www.kimmelscomedyclub.com

ABOUT JIMMY KIMMEL’S COMEDY CLUB
Curated and designed by comedian, writer, producer and Emmy Award-winning TV host, Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club at The LINQ Promenade captures the spirit of Kimmel’s hometown of Vegas. Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club will feature late night shows, surprise guests, high-end casual cuisine and memorabilia. Complete with an expandable showroom that seats up to 300 guests, the dual-level 8,000 square-foot venue provides an optimal setting for both the audience and performers alike. Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club is located across from Brooklyn Bowl and near the High Roller – the tallest observation wheel in the world. Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club is an 18+ venue and is open daily, with the bar opening at 4 p.m. and performances Thursday through Sunday at 8 p.m. with additional shows at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The club will showcase comedians ranging from household names to up-and-coming talent curated by Kimmel and his team. Jimmy Kimmel will not be appearing at Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club nightly. For more information or to book tickets, visit www.KimmelsComedyClub.com  or call (702) 777-2782.

ABOUT JIMMY KIMMEL
Jimmy Kimmel serves as host and executive producer of Emmy® Award-winning “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” network television’s longest-running late-night talk show. Now in its 16th season, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” produces some of the most popular comedy bits in late-night and features a diverse lineup of guests including actors, musicians, athletes, comedians, authors, politicians, newsmakers and the occasional random weirdo.. “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” airs weeknights at 11:35/10:35pm ET on ABC.
Kimmel has hosted some of the biggest events in entertainment including The Oscars in 2017 & 2018, the 64th and 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, the ESPYs, the American Music Awards, multiple Comedy Central Roasts and the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in 2012.  He grew up in Las Vegas, attended Clark High School and, despite bad grades and spotty attendance, received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater UNLV.

ABOUT CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT
Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR) is one of the world’s most diversified casino-entertainment providers and the most geographically diverse U.S. casino-entertainment company. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada, in 1937, Caesars Entertainment has grown through development of new resorts, expansions and acquisitions. Caesars Entertainment’s resorts operate primarily under the Caesars®, Harrah’s® and Horseshoe® brand names. Caesars Entertainment’s portfolio also includes the Caesars Entertainment UK family of casinos. Caesars Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its guests through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership. Caesars Entertainment is committed to its employees, suppliers, communities and the environment through its PEOPLE PLANET PLAY framework. For more information, please visit www.caesars.com/corporate.

ABOUT THE LINQ PROMENADE
The LINQ Promenade is the world-renowned, award-winning open-air district featuring more than 30 unique entertainment, retail and dining experiences with more to open in 2019. The LINQ Promenade also plays host to a variety of special events, festivals and parades throughout the year. Home to High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel, and FLY LINQ, the only zipline on the Las Vegas strip, The LINQ Promenade is now the center for world-class attractions. High Roller quickly emerged as an instantly recognizable part of the already-iconic Las Vegas skyline and consistently ranks as one of the best, “must see” attractions by media outlets and websites around the world, ranging from Travel + Leisure to USA Today and Trip Advisor. The wheel’s 28 glass-enclosed cabins feature an interactive 30-minute experience 550 feet in the air that includes video and music that fades away to unveil spectacular views. The sky is the limit for in-cabin experiences such as the popular Happy Half Hour (an exclusive open bar for guests 21 and over); Chocolate Tasting with Ethel M Chocolates and Yoga in the Sky. The brand-new FLY LINQ provides unparalleled views and features 10 side-by-side ziplines capable of simultaneously launching all riders from an 114-foot-tall launch tower to travel 1,121 feet through The LINQ Promenade at speeds up to 35 MPH. For more information, go to TheLINQ.com or the Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas media room. Find @LINQPromenade on Facebook and follow on Twitter and Instagram.

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SOURCE Caesars Entertainment