Jimmy Kimmel sat down with Bill Carter (author of The Late Shift and The War for Late Night) yesterday for a interview in front of a live auditorium audience in New York City, and holy moly he did not mince words when the subject of Jay Leno came up:
Carter asked Kimmel about Leno at a point in the interview after Kimmel, 42, had expressed his life-long admiration for David Letterman, who Kimmel idolized when he was a teen growing up in Las Vegas. Starting in January, Kimmel will be competing head-to-head against both Leno, 62, and Letterman, 65, when “Jimmy Kimmel Live” moves its start time to 11:35 p.m. eastern time — a move announced by ABC earlier this month.
“How about Jay Leno?” Carter asked Kimmel.
“F— him,” answered Kimmel, without pausing to consider his reply. [Xfinity]
Kimmel went on to talk about the time during the Leno-Conan debacle when he dressed up as Jay on his own show (saying “I impersonated [Leno] on my show, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had on my show”) and later went on Leno’s 10 p.m. show to brutally mock Leno right to his face (“It was probably my proudest moment”), but my favorite part of the interview was probably this little tidbit:
Kimmel then noted that comedians he knew were the first to congratulate him for how he’d taken Leno to task. “People, it turns out, really don’t like Jay Leno,” Kimmel said.
The thing that’s weird — and kind of great — about this is that Kimmel really doesn’t have a horse in this race. Letterman despises Leno and gleefully takes every opportunity to trash him because Leno hosed him out of The Tonight Show so many years ago. It’s personal. Same with Conan, who seems like he tries very hard to take the high road, but can’t always contain the scalding hot magma bubbling millimeters under the surface, causing him to quickly lash out then backtrack once every couple months. He got hosed out of his dream job — which he actually had, and then had taken away, which is even worse — by Leno, too. Kimmel? He’s never been personally burned by Leno (to my knowledge at least), he just thinks Leno is a sh-thead, and he is happy to let you clip a microphone to him so he can tell whoever happens to be within earshot.
I find that hilarious.