"Jimmy Kimmel Live" is a late night talk show that premiered on January 26, 2003, a few hours after Super Bowl XXXVII ended, on the ABC network. It currently airs weeknights at 12:00 EST (11:00 CST). Kimmel is best known from his co-hosting duties on the shows "Win Ben Stein’s Money" and "The Man Show", both airing on Comedy Central. With Adam Sandler’s movement into more serious acting, Kimmel has become the new poster boy for what is dubbed “frat boy” humor. That is, drunken idiots doing various acts of stupidity and a reliance on bodily functions and scantily clad women.
After Bill Maher’s "Politically Incorrect" was booted off the air for supposedly being too controversial (note how sex and drinking are not too controversial when it might mean higher ratings) and ABC’s attempt to lure David Letterman away from CBS failed, Kimmel was tapped to host his own show. To create a special venue for the show, ABC refurbished an old Masonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd in Los Angeles. It is obvious that the network is doing everything they can to support the show and try to make it a hit, especially among Kimmel’s target demographic of young males. The median age of Jay Leno’s "Tonight Show" viewers is 48.5, while Letterman’s viewers are 45.9, so Kimmel probably isn’t looking to steal viewers from his main competitors.
Another major thing leading up to the first episode was the amount of alcohol that was going to be present on the show. Not only would Jimmy and his guests be drinking, but drinks would also be passed around to the studio audience in the hopes of it making the show more fun. This audience drinking was quickly brought to an end after one audience member had a little too much and almost threw-up on Disney CEO Michael Eisner. The onstage antics continued though, with Jimmy having a drinking contest against Snoop Dogg several nights later where he downed eight shot of vodka on the air.
In an attempt to distinguish itself from its rivals, the show tries to avoid some of the classic celebrity talk show clichés. It airs live as opposed to on a tape delay. There is no opening monologue. There is also no permanent co-host, instead having a special celebrity co-host that changes every week. Also, instead of having one long-form comedy sketch like the other shows, Jimmy Kimmel seems to prefer having several shorter bits before he brings out the first guest.
I am a 22 year-old male, exactly who the network is looking for, and have actually found "The Man Show" to be rather funny the few times I have seen it. I have watched "Jimmy Kimmel Live" almost every night since it’s premiere and it’s an unmitigated disaster. The show seems aimless, starring guests of no importance and comedy bits that usually go nowhere.
I was originally interested in the show because of the writers that Kimmel has surrounded himself with. These include Steve O’Donnell, who was David Letterman’s head writer in the 1980s and has also worked on "Seinfeld" and "The Simpsons", Joel Hodgson - the creator of "Mystery Science Theatre 3000", and Bill Simmons, who works for ESPN.com and has become my favorite columnist since the death of Mike Royko (although the two obviously cover very different areas). I have to wonder what these men are actually doing. Everything on the show feels made up on the spot and this usually results in many more misses than hits. Do these writers have any hand at all?
It has been no secret that the show has been unable to book decent guests, however this really should not be an issue. A skilled comedian should be able to pull some laughs from his guests no matter who they are and what new product they are flogging. This is where Jimmy’s amateurishness really comes out. He does not know how to handle the guests, either letting them drone on and on or cutting them off in the middle of a story. So the jokes are not funny, and the guests are not funny. This is not good.
The rotating guest host format seems to take the worst of both worlds. If one has a permanent co-host (such as Ed McMahon or Andy Richter) the two hosts are able to build a rapport with each other that helps to carry the show from night to night. If you have a new guest co-host every night, things can always be new and different and you should be able to milk a few laughs from the inevitable “why the hell are you here?” banter. With Kimmel’s format, you have a co-host that is not there enough to establish long-standing jokes, but is around enough to wear out their welcome.
The one saving grace is the fact that it seems like Jimmy simply does not give a fuck. He knows he is the network’s golden boy and is using it to his full advantage: swearing, drinking and trying to tweak the network every chance he gets. I can’t wait to see the inevitable crash and burn that will occur on the air if the show gets cancelled.
As rough as the first few weeks have been, I can’t help but think of the first Conan O’Brien shows from ten years ago. As a host, Conan was much worse than Jimmy is right now, and he eventually found his voice and now produces a hilarious show. Jimmy’s ratings are running about the same as "Politically Incorrect"'s were last year, so the network will probably give him a while to make his case. As for me, I’m going back to "Simpsons" and "Seinfeld" reruns on FOX.
Servo5678 says Another factor against Jimmy is that not all ABC stations are carrying the show at this point due to long-range syndication deals. My ABC affiliate, for example, doesn't air or promote the show at all; it even replaces network commercials for the show with their own local commercials. If it were up to my ABC station, I'd never know the show existed.
What Servo5678 says is true of many stations across the country, either they don't like Jimmy's brand of humor or decided they could make more money by having their own programming and not having to split "Kimmel" profits with the network. Back in the days of "PI" my station (Chicago) would show an Oprah rerun after "Nightline" and delay "PI" for an hour. But that practice has stopped with the Jimmy Kimmel show. Update: Kimmel's ratings are so crappy here that they are putting Oprah back in his timeslot.