It feels insensitive. Everything I am thinking of writing about Jimmy Kimmel’s return to his show last night feels insensitive. Not because I don’t think his emotional monologue was great – it was. It was necessary and powerful and even though he put his 7-month old baby on television, it didn’t seem exploitative or self-serving. Everything I want to write feels insensitive because Jimmy Kimmel’s ratings have never been better. His show is doing really well. Even when he’s been off work, he’s been showing his work. The celebrities who have filled in for him showed up and delivered. This year, Jimmy Kimmel has used his work to entertain but also to make to make important statements about the current state of his country and as a result, he’s neck and neck with Stephen Colbert battling for the top spot in the late night ratings wars. It feels a bit gross to talk about ratings and work when a baby has undergone multiple heart surgeries and has had to deal with things no child ever should.
The reality is though, in every line of work, the personal often creeps into the professional. Especially with celebrities or when you have a TV show with your name on it, this is inevitable. Jimmy Kimmel was dealing with a sick son behind the scenes and it had an impact on what happened in front of the camera. That impact ended up being incredibly good for business. Is that gross? Why is it making me so uncomfortable to point out that Jimmy’s personal hardships have translated into one of the best work years of his career?
When we talk about how fascinating and exhilarating work can be, we also talk about its unpredictability. Last year, would you have guessed that Jimmy Kimmel would have emerged as one of the most searing political commentators on late night? I’m sure he would trade a healthy son for good ratings any day of the week but it’s undeniable that through a tough personal year, Jimmy has put in the work and earned his success. It’s pretty amazing.
Now, let’s get to the monologue that I had to pause four times so I could pull myself together. Jimmy opened his show holding his son, Billy. I almost didn’t make it through. Billy looks exactly like his mom, Molly McNearney, and he’s f-cking adorable. Billy is going to make you cry. I think Jimmy knew that Billy would make us cry and that’s the point. Jimmy Kimmel used his opening monologue to highlight the U.S.’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
CHIP saves lives. It saves little baby lives. What kind of soulless Grinch asshole piece of sh-t do you have to be to defund a program that saves little baby lives? The only time I truly agree with people when they say that it’s SO much better over here in Canada is when it comes to healthcare. I don’t know a lot about the American healthcare system but what I do know is pretty horrifying. Kimmel’s monologue was scary as sh-t. Again, that was the point. And it was also the point to make sure every outlet covering Jimmy Kimmel’s return this morning also mentioned children’s healthcare. Finally, because it’s his job—and he’s really good at his job—Kimmel ended his monologue with all heart and a bit of humour.
“If these were potato chips they were taking away from us – we would be marching on Washington with pitchforks and spears right now. So once again, I’m asking you – Billy’s asking you — to make two phone calls you shouldn’t have to make.”
That number is (202) 225-3121. Learn more about CHIP here.