Politics, Primetime Emmys just part of Kimmel’s very busy year

'Jimmy Kimmel Live' @ 10

President Obama greets Kimmel at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April.

What didn’t Jimmy Kimmel do in 2012?

Not only did he get engaged, but Kimmel also hosted the White House Correspondents Dinner and fronted the Emmy Awards. Those were in addition to cranking out an hour of latenight TV five days a week with “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” whose audience increased in strong numbers.

While there have certainly been adrenaline rushes, the heavy workload took its toil. And with the recent excitement of bringing “JKL” to 11:35 p.m., Kimmel is the first to admit that he’s, well, just a little tired.

“I’m busier than I’ve ever been,” he says in a conversation held just a few days after “JKL” began airing in its new timeslot. “I don’t thrive on this kind of thing. I wilt under it. It seems like I’ve been running at 40 miles per hour for the last 11 days in a row, and I’ll be honest, I’m looking forward to the weekend.”

One of Kimmel’s strengths is that he is an average Jim who, like his audience, requires a break at the end of the week. Though his comedy resume might reveal a style more naughty than edgy (he was a co-creator of Comedy Central series “Crank Yankers” and “The Man Show” prior to making the latenight leap), ABC felt he was a great choice to host a latenight talkshow.

“I’m a pretty family-oriented guy. I have family members who work here on the show with me, and not just on the show but behind the scenes. I think they were looking for somebody who would appeal to the regular guy, whatever that is, and decided I would be popular among, I don’t know, garbage men.”

As it has turned out, Kimmel has a much wider reach than trash collectors. “JKL” emerged from 2012 with its best-ever ratings and the only latenight broadcast talkshow to build its overall audience.

Kimmel’s star rose considerably last year with the Emmys and White House Correspondents’ Dinner, both of which burnished him as a man for all occasions. But, he admits, the dinner and joking about the president, who was on the dais only a few feet from him, was the real challenge.

“At the Emmys, you know the audience. They were mostly people I worked with, and it’s almost like doing a plumbers’ convention. You can make inside jokes that everyone will get. At the Correspondents Dinner, it’s a much stranger mix of people and hard to figure out where to go.”

Fortunately, he had his “JKL” writing staff to help him with hundreds of jokes, using only a small percentage of those in facing the likes of President Obama and the White House press corps.

“It paid off because we had a lot of great jokes. I could probably do the next eight Correspondents Dinners in a row without writing a single new joke.”

In August he got engaged to Molly McNearney, a writer on the show.

For his part, Kimmel does seem genuinely surprised that he’s gotten this far. Making “JKL” unique, he says, “Comes down to me as a person and the people I have on the show with me.”

Still, after 10 years, he’s made some observations about his role as a host and interviewer. Most importantly, while the show’s jumping off point may be his personality, the show itself is not actually about him.

“I’m not a comedian on the show,” he says. “I’m a talkshow host. I’m there to let people get laugh, not to top them or try to compete with them. The truth is it doesn’t matter who’s funny on your show. If someone’s funny, then ultimately you’ve won.”

It seems success going forward won’t spoil Kimmel. He’s never had any sense of what it was supposed to look like in the first place.

“For me it’s a matter of not drowning every day.”

Jimmy Kimmel Live @ 10
Midnight maven Kimmel moves up | Top moments on ‘JKL’ | Kimmel doesn’t get caught up in ratings race | Eric Stonestreet on Kimmel | Ben Stein on Kimmel | KROQ DJ Bean on Kimmel | Politics, Primetime Emmys just part of busy year
Watch Jimmy Kimmel receive his star on the Walk of Fame

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Ballers HBO

    'Ballers' to End After Season 5 on HBO

    “Ballers” is coming to an end after five seasons on HBO. Star and executive producer Dwayne Johnson confirmed the news via an emotional Instagram video. “My heart is full of gratitude to all of you for rocking with us every season. You made us HBO’s highest rated comedy for years and most importantly, you helped [...]

  • Sublime Primetime

    How Emmy-Nominated Writers’ Rooms Keep Politics in Mind

    In a world filled with elections, social movements and national tragedies, how open should the doors of a writers’ room actually be? For some of this year’s Emmy-nominated shows, those doors are wide open. Before the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards air on Sept. 22, the Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild Foundation, [...]

  • Disney Villains Series 'Book of Enchantment'

    'Book of Enchantment' Series Based on Iconic Disney Villains Shelved at Disney Plus

    Disney Plus has decided to not move forward with “Book of Enchantment,” a series based on some of Disney’s most iconic villains, Variety has learned from sources. The news comes the day before Disney is set to unveil its streaming service at the biannual D23 convention in Anaheim. The prospective project was based on the [...]


    Brenda Blethyn to Star in New ITV Sitcom 'Kate and Kolo'

    Oscar-nominated Brenda Blethyn is set to star in the new sitcom “Kate and Kolo” for ITV, the U.K. broadcaster announced at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Blethyn takes on the title role of Kate in the comedy alongside theater and film actor Jimmy Akingbola as Kolo. Blethyn is a popular star with ITV audiences after having [...]

  • Sean Spicer Emmys

    Sean Spicer's Casting Explained? Red States Love 'Dancing With the Stars'

    ABC faced backlash this week after casting former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on “Dancing with the Stars.” But that outrage might actually spice up the dancing competition’s dwindling ratings — particularly in Trump Country. “Dancing with the Stars” has faced a relatively alarming decline in ratings over the past two cycles, falling 32% [...]

  • Peppa Pig

    Hasbro Acquires Entertainment One in $4 Billion All-Cash Deal

    Toymaker Hasbro is acquiring studio Entertainment One in an all-cash transaction valued at $4 billion, bringing My Little Pony and Nerf under the same umbrella as “Peppa Pig” and “PJ Masks” and furthering Hasbro’s growth goals in the infant and preschool categories. Hasbro aims to expand its operations in film and TV. Entertainment One’s production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content