PASADENA, Calif. – There are some days Jimmy Kimmel is still surprised by his success.
The talk show host, who made the shortlist for Time’s person of the year in 2017, said his level of celebrity is something he’s still adjusting to. Kimmel will host the Oscars for the second year in a row on March 4.
“It's weird,” he mused. “I sometimes look at things that are written about me and said about me and I can't believe that it's I'm looking at my own name. I know it's easy to forget that when you see somebody on TV that they weren't always on TV, and that, you know, they didn't always have a show…”
Kimmel, who rose to fame on shows like Comedy Central’s “The Man Show” and “Win Ben Stein's Money,” reflected on having guests like Meryl Streep on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” during the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour.
“That would have been unimaginable, as you know, 14 years ago when... we were, at best, putting ‘Real Housewives’ on the show and begging them to stay… until the musicians left. It is overwhelming, and it is silly, and I think that sometimes you get too much credit and too much praise, and this [past] year has definitely been one of those times.”
Behind the scenes of “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” which has aired for 15 seasons, the host is often grateful to have his wife by his side as a writer to give him her no-nonsense feedback on his jokes.
“It’s great working with her because I know, first of all, she does not fear me in any way so she will give me her honest feedback on whether she likes a joke and what I should or should not do and that’s very helpful for me because you don’t necessarily get that dynamic from everyone.”
In the writers’ room, many jokes end up on the chopping block, he explained.
“If you are doing great 5 percent of your jokes make it to air. The percentages are much lower than baseball in comedy writing so nobody really gets that upset, and if somebody really fights for a joke I almost inevitably give in because it will go one way or the other. Either the joke will work or I’ll be able to goof on them afterwards,” he told reporters.
Kimmel said he enjoys bringing his family – like his aunt Chippy – onto the show.
“There’s always some element of real family interaction on the show,” he noted. “You can’t ask for better home movies than what we have.”
When he isn’t working on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the 50-year-old is prepping for the Academy Awards. His first Oscars telecast memorably ended with a best picture flub that went down as one of the largest mess ups in Oscar history.
Despite the blunder, Kimmel was proud of the job he did.
“I felt good about it. I think it can be a thankless job,” he said of hosting. “I think you’d have to really, really do well to come out of it and not feel wounded. The envelope thing was interesting and it’ll add more interest to this year’s show presumably, but ultimately it was an unfortunate distraction.”
He noted that “99 percent of the show went really well” and he doesn’t consider it to be the “Titanic caliber disaster that most people do when they reflect on it.”
He plans to start writing his jokes for the awards show after the nominations are announced on Jan. 23rd.
“Once the nominations come out, then we will really buckle down and start writing,” he revealed.
In the meantime, he’s focused on writing promos for the awards show and on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” which increasingly tackles the news cycle during its nightly broadcast.
He said at time’s it’s tricky to keep up with the ever-changing headlines ahead of his late-night show.
“Some nights you wish you could balance it out a little bit so that you can cover a variety of subjects, but it’s relentless,” he said of the influx of political headlines. "It’s like the difference between working in a… doctor’s office to the ER. Every day is a mad scramble to stay alive.”