When you watch Jimmy Kimmel emotionally talk about his son’s health or the aftermath of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, it’s easy to forget the message is coming from a guy who hasn’t gotten political until recently. Jimmy Kimmel Live! didn’t exactly shy away from politics before, but the show has become a destination for political activism in a way that even Kimmel himself couldn’t have predicted. In an interview with New York magazine,Kimmel explained why his show has taken a political bent—and why The Man Show would be more successful than ever today.
Kimmel said he has felt differently about his country since the election. “I feel frustrated. I don’t know—maybe a lot of it is media hysteria, but I go to bed worried and I wake up worried, and I honestly don’t know if things are going to be okay,” he said. “I worry that we’re going to look back at Donald Trump almost fondly because someone worse will come after him.”
Now, he’s speaking out about politics nearly every night, but he seems to actively avoid taking credit for his activism on gun control and healthcare. “I do think that as a talk-show host, you get a lot of reaction if you talk about something seriously,” he said. “It’s almost the same thing as your ne’er-do-well cousin giving a nice speech at a funeral. He probably gets a little more credit than he deserves.”
He says he doesn’t care if speaking out has made him lose viewers on the right. “I think I’ve alienated more people than I’ve brought onboard,” he said. “But what I thought was important was telling the truth.”
That said, he knows the time couldn’t be better of a reboot of his previous claim to fame: The Man Show. “If we put The Man Show on today in its identical form, it would be an even bigger hit than it was back then. I believe that very strongly,” he said. “Because there’s more back to lash against. […] It would absolutely result in a shitstorm, and there’s absolutely nothing better for ratings than a shitstorm.”
In case you’ve forgotten, the first ever episode of The Man Show is available on YouTube. And given the cultural climate these days, Kimmel’s probably not wrong that it would gain a whole new audience in 2017.