Kimmel is a bit of an acquired taste and an unusual network golden boy. By his own admission, he never sought out or expected television stardom. Kimmel was perfectly happy working in radio when Comedy Central brought him on to host “Win Ben Stein’s Money” and then “The Man Show.” From there, he took on his current show, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” After a somewhat rocky start, Kimmel found his comfort zone, and his skills as an interviewer have only improved. He already showed his skill at bringing levity to a room full of serious-minded people when he hosted the White House Press Correspondents Dinner earlier this year.
Kimmel’s greatest asset is that he never takes anything—himself included—too seriously. It was one thing for him to be a good sport when then-girlfriend Sarah Silverman released the “I’m F*cking Matt Damon” video. But to follow that up with his own “I’m F*cking Ben Affleck” video, featuring the happy couple strolling in short shorts, was sheer genius. Like O’Brien, he also does a wonderful job of deflating some of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Emmy Awards ceremony. Showing up for the 5:40 am announcement of the nominations in his pajamas was a nice start. When co-presenter Kerry Washington asked what he was wearing, he replied, “This is from the husky baby collection. Thank you for asking.” He followed that with the great quip, “This could be just as good at noon, really.” Perhaps the best moment was when he responded to the cheers for Betty White’s nomination with, “Only old people get up this early, I guess.”
Some people complained that Kimmel wasn’t showing proper respect for the announcements with his behavior. And he’s no stranger to criticism—he encountered some controversy last year after he suggested parents prank their kids by saying they ate all the Halloween candy and post the kids’ reactions on YouTube. And some people found his jokes about Marcus Bachmann’s sexuality at the White House dinner in poor taste. But it is precisely that disregard for playing it safe that makes Kimmel an interesting choice.
The biggest complaint about the Emmy Awards—or any such ceremony—is that the evening is too predictable. With Kimmel at the helm, you can count on it to be anything but boring.