Kimmel returned to his show, ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," on Monday after a two-week vacation, commenting on the quakes on July 4 and 5 that centered on Ridgecrest, about 150 miles north of Los Angeles.
“We had not one but two major earthquakes here in Southern California,” Kimmel said in his monologue before showing a series of cellphone recordings of the quakes taken from viewers. "You know what you do when there's a big earthquake. You have to get your phone out and start rolling cameras."
The first video appeared to show a children's performance inside an auditorium with some of the children dressed in overalls and others in red, white, blue and pink dresses.
"It shook up some kind of weirdo school performance. I don't know what was going on there," Kimmel said before moving on to the next video.
In the recording, the building began to shake and children could be heard screaming. Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin wasn't amused by Kimmel's wisecracks, saying the issue wasn't a laughing matter.
"I'm a little more than peeved," McLaughlin told Fox News. "I don't think it was appropriate calling kids names like that who are scared out of their minds."
The chief said the children were part of a church group that was using a local high school for its practice and performance. Neither Kimmel nor anyone from ABC responded to a Fox News request for comment Wednesday.
Friday's quake was the largest to hit Southern California in two decades. No deaths were reported, but one Nevada man likely died after apparently being pinned under a car he'd been fixing, police said.
McLaughlin also chastised the comedian over the use of his TV platform to advocate for his own children. "Wasn't he on his show crying and asking people to pray for his kids?" the chief said, referring to an emotional 2017 monologue in which Kimmel revealed that his son had been born with heart disease that required surgery. He used time on the show to call for viewers to contact their local representatives to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Plan and more.
"My heart sang for him," McLaughlin said.