The New King
Jimmy Kimmel takes command in 92nd Street Y interview program
By Michael Shashoua / Jester Editor-In-Chief
Fresh off ABC’s announcement that his show will move into the 11:30 pm time slot, Jimmy Kimmel showed flashes of ultra-sharp timing and edge in an interview event hosted by New York Times media reporter and author Bill Carter at 92nd Street Y on August 27.
Kimmel’s demeanor in the program likely reminded audience members, many of whom were, surprisingly, in the 50s and up age demographic, of Johnny Carson. Watching Kimmel answer Carter’s questions and several audience questions and statement was like watching the best of Carson in the recent PBS American Masters documentary (see review, 5/12/12). Both have the subtlest twinkle in their eye as they deliver a cheeky remark or punchline and are very carefully calibrated in comparison to other late night hosts past and present.
10 years on the air have clearly developed Kimmel into the real deal of late night. He had masterful command of a live prank phone call to his aunt toward the end of the program. As a particularly heavily accented audience questioner began to speak, he interrupted, saying, “Excuse me, are you from New York?,” a line that brought a thundering laugh.
Asked by Carter how he would characterize his comedy style, Kimmel said, tongue firmly in cheek, “I’m an old-fashioned showman.” Of the move to 11:30, similarly, Kimmel said, “I think we’ll try harder,” with a hint of self-deprecation.
At the same time, the night’s program had a lot of meat for fans of Kimmel and followers of the late-night comedy competition, ranging over the highlights and more recent favorite bits from the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show, his past experiences in radio and TV, and even his inner childhood comedy nerd who would doodle pictures of Letterman on his school book covers.
More than anything else on the media landscape, or anyplace else, this 92Y event was as close as one might get to Kimmel’s coronation as the new king of late night, and both Carter and Kimmel seemed to sense that.
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