Jimmy Kimmel’s Joke Comparing ‘BTS Fever’ To Covid-19 Is Going Over Quite Terribly

Sometimes comedians face difficult choices when it comes to what jokes they will make, what subject matter is appropriate, and how far to take things. But I think in the year 2022 during the third year of a global pandemic that led to an unprecedented, disgusting spike in violence against Asian people, we can all agree that anti-Asian jokes are in terrible taste? Apparently, Jimmy Kimmel didn’t get that memo, because he decided to not once but twice try out a line of humor that compared the popularity of the biggest boy band on the planet, BTS, who happen to be Asian, with Covid-19.

Here’s how it went down.

First, Kimmel trotted out a joke about boy bands as viruses during his opening monologue on Thursday. He initially compares boy bands and Covid-19 variants around the 2:27 mark up above, or check out just a clip below.


“These variants, all the different variants in the world right now, it reminds me of the boy bands in the late ’90s and early 2000s,” Kimmel began. “You had the big ones like Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, and then that mutated into O-Town and 98 Degrees. The JoBros popped up, Big Time Rush, they kept splitting off in different directions, eventually One Direction, and they took pieces, and it popped up all over the world until eventually we get to one that’s so contagious it destroys all life on earth.”

While that’s a more subtle reference to BTS, another joke he made about the band earlier this month was a bit more direct. While guest Ashley Park from the show Emily In Paris was visiting the show, her own bout with Covid-19 came up. Park had gotten sick with the virus right around the time some members of BTS had posted about her cover of “Dynamite” on the show. She thought her physical reaction was excitement about the band’s acknowledgement, but really, it was Omicron. “You thought it was BTS fever?” Kimmel asked. “Well they’re both very dangerous, you’re lucky to come out of both of those alive,” he finished. (You can watch the clip around the 9:01 mark above.)

Though it might’ve seemed just like an off the cuff remark to some, other leveled serious criticisms at Kimmel for his remarks, which, taken in the context of Covid-19 misinformation and anti-Asian backlash, definitely weren’t the greatest choice. Check out some of the reactions below.

BTS have spoken out against anti-Asian violence in the past, but so far haven’t commented on Kimmel’s jokes.