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The Untold Truth Of Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy Kimmel has been a pillar of the late-night comedy world for almost two decades, and it doesn't look like he is slowing down any time soon, seeing that his show is the longest-running late-night talk show on ABC. Along with hosting his namesake talk show, "Jimmy Kimmel Live!", the comedy personality has had the honor of hosting shows like the Emmys and the Oscars on several occasions. He is not only a late-night host but has even produced, written, acted, and directed in everything from radio to television to film, per IMDb.

However, it was not always an easy ride to the top for Kimmel. Fans may think they know everything that there is to know about the comedian, but there is more than meets the eye. We have compiled some of the most obscure facts about the radio-turned-television personality that you might not have known before. 

Jimmy Kimmel is narcoleptic

While it might seem a little ironic that a late-night talk show host would have a sleep disorder, this is true for Jimmy Kimmel, who suffers from narcolepsy. As explained by Mayo Clinic, narcolepsy is defined as "a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden sleep attacks." While Kimmel has a very mild form of the disorder that is controlled with medication, some sufferers may experience sudden involuntary sleep attacks in the middle of physical activities.

Kimmel has spoken publicly about his disorder in Esquire. He suffers from no other symptoms except occasional drowsiness, which fortunately does not get in the way of his career. The comedian has unsurprisingly used his narcolepsy as the subject of a self-deprecating joke, claiming it helps during travel when he can easily fall asleep on airplanes. It's safe to say that narcolepsy doesn't seem to be holding him back.

He got his start on a radio show

While still in high school, Kimmel took inspiration from David Letterman and began hosting a radio show for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before eventually joining a morning radio show in Seattle called "The Me and Him Show" as the host, as reported by Variety. Unfortunately, it was not always smooth sailing for Kimmel, who was ultimately fired from this job among many others in the coming years, to which he blames his office pranking. Kimmel would go on to get fired from four different radio shows before finding his place.

He finally went on to make a name for himself on "The Kevin & Bean Show" in Los Angeles as "Jimmy the Sports Guy," fusing comedy with sports (via The Orange County Register). He then transitioned into television in 1997 while appearing on the game show, "Win Ben Stein's Money," which earned the cohosts a Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding game-show host in 1999. One of Comedy Central's most successful shows, according to Jezebel, was Kimmel's raunchy, frat-boy-type humor program, appropriately titled, "The Man Show," which garnered him a large fanbase. In 2003, he went on to create his iconic talk show, "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and the rest is history.

Carson Daly was his intern

Talk about networking. You may remember Carson Daly from his many years hosting MTV's "Total Request Live," but what some people don't know is that Jimmy Kimmel actually kickstarted his broadcast career. After Kimmel's many failed attempts at radio shows, he finally landed his own show at KCMJ in Palm Springs, California. This is where Kimmel recruited a family friend, Carson Daly, to be his new intern when he was 16, as told by Daly on "Late Night with Seth Meyers." 

Daly eventually rose through the ranks from intern to having his own 6-10 p.m. DJ slot. During this time, he also worked as a Video Jockey for MTV's summer program. Impressed by his talent, he was eventually offered a transfer to New York where he would begin hosting "Total Request Live" beginning in 1998. He eventually followed in Kimmel's footsteps with his own late-night talk show, "Last Call with Carson Daly," which ran on NBC for 17 years (per The Hollywood Reporter).

Jimmy Kimmel has a feud with Matt Damon

Matt Damon has famously been the target of Jimmy Kimmel's ongoing ridicule since the early 2000s. According to Time, during a rather boring episode in 2003, Kimmel sarcastically slipped in the phrase "my apologies to Matt Damon, we ran out of time" just to make his producers laugh and continued to end almost every show that way since. Kimmel capitalized on the attention given to the fake feud and refused to have Damon on his show until 2006, when he spent so much time introducing the actor that by the time Damon was going to speak, they were out of time (via E! News).

Throughout the years, the two have brought their feud to the Oscars, the Emmys, couples therapy, the MLB World Series, and even into their own friends and families' lives. In 2008, Kimmel's then-girlfriend and fellow comedian Sarah Silverman got in on the fun when she put together a music video with Damon called "I'm F***ing Matt Damon." Kimmel fired back when he recruited Damon's best friend Ben Affleck and other celebrities for a music video titled "I'm F***ing Ben Affleck." Damon even hosted the talk show's 10th anniversary episode, listed on IMDb as "Jimmy Kimmel Sucks!", while a tied and gagged Kimmel watched from a chair. In an interview with SiriusXM, Matt Damon stated, "[The feud] changed the course of both of our lives ... we've had a lot of fun doing it."

David Letterman is his idol

Jimmy Kimmel has idolized David Letterman since he was 11 years old. If you need more proof of his undying devotion, his mother once baked him a "Late Night with David Letterman" cake for his 16th birthday, and he later got a "L8 Nite" vanity license plate for his car, per Buzzfeed. Kimmel often jokes that the only reason he went into show business was to become friends with the iconic host, and in 2002, he unsurprisingly reached out to Letterman to invite him as a guest on his premiere episode of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" However, Kimmel received a "hilarious" rejection letter from his idol that remains framed on his desk to this day, according to Business Insider. Letterman would ultimately go on to be a future guest on the show and share his gratitude for Kimmel's continued kindness and respect.

Kimmel delivered an emotional farewell monologue to Letterman the day before his final show (per Cinemablend). Out of respect for the comedian, Kimmel decided not to run a new episode that night and instead encouraged his fans to watch Letterman's. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Kimmel praised Letterman's "weird and different" humor as something he'd never seen before; even with his own show having reached the mainstream success that it has, Kimmel told the magazine, "If I beat David Letterman in the ratings, does that mean I'm better than Letterman? No f***ing way."

Jimmy Kimmel Live! debuted to mediocre reviews

In 2003, "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" replaced Bill Maher's popular show "Politically Incorrect," which Newsweek claims was ultimately canceled due to — unsurprisingly— a controversy, so Kimmel had some large shoes to fill. As Kimmel attempted to shed the frat-boy image he had created for himself during his time on "The Man Show," initial feedback was overwhelmingly negative. A Hollywood Reporter review of the show's first episode labeled Kimmel as "in over his head" and "utterly unprepared." They even go on to describe the episode as reminiscent of "beer commercial outtakes." 

While it's thought that a comedian's best friend is a drunk audience, Kimmel's team took that a little too literally. An open bar was available to the audience during the pilot, who got so intoxicated they began throwing up and passing out, leading to the show losing its liquor license, reported the Los Angeles Times. Luckily for Kimmel, his show went on to gain immense traction and become one of the most popular late-night talk shows, eventually beating out "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in total viewership in the 2020-2021 television season (via Deadline).

He used to be an altar boy

Although this is not something often associated with raunchy comedians, Jimmy Kimmel is a devout Catholic who has been very outspoken about his religious upbringing and beliefs. Growing up, Kimmel was an altar boy in his hometown of Las Vegas and has long been an advocate for the benefits of the Catholic Church. In 2017, Republican Senate hopeful Roy Moore was in the midst of accusations of sexually assaulting minors when "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" sent one of their regulars to interrupt a church rally for Moore. Moore responded with a tweet to Kimmel that read, "If you want to mock our Christian values, come down here to Alabama and do it like a man" (via USA Today).

However, Kimmel got the final word on his show by defending his religious beliefs in a monologue directed at Moore. As seen on Relevant, Kimmel said, "It doesn't fit your stereotype, but I happen to be a Christian, too. I made my first Holy Communion, I was confirmed, I pray, I support my church, one of my closest friends is a priest, I baptize my children ... So if you're open to it, when we sit down, I will share with you what I learned at my church. At my church, forcing yourself on underaged girls is a no-no. Some even consider it to be a sin." Kimmel then donated $5,400 to Moore's Democratic opponent, according to Yahoo.

He's related to Martha Stewart

In 2020, Jimmy Kimmel was a guest on the PBS genealogy series "Finding Your Roots," where he discovered some surprising news. Host and literary critic Henry Louis Gates Jr. delivered the news to Kimmel that Martha Stewart is, in fact, his cousin. Kimmel appeared overjoyed by this revelation and explained how this definitely explains him. He revealed that "[he makes his] own vinegar" and couldn't help but poke some fun at his own family by saying, "Well, this is great news for the holidays. I mean, it's very bad news for her, but it's very good news for me."

Ironically, prior to this discovery, Kimmel's wife Molly McNearney actually likened her husband to the famous chef. In 2015, the talk-show host graced the cover of Entertainment Weekly, where his wife shared some personal facts about the comedian. She stated, "Our Christmas cards and stationery are all handmade by him; our wedding invitation, he drew." She continues, "He makes vinegar, he makes pasta from scratch. He really is Martha Stewart. I've never met a man that's so feminine and so masculine at the same time." Little did they know, he had more Martha Stewart in him than they anticipated.

Jimmy Kimmel is a Guinness World Record holder

You think you've got a bad commute? In October 2007, Kimmel had the honor of guest hosting the morning talk show "Live with Regis and Kelly." During this time, he commuted every day between New York and Los Angeles in order to host both the morning show and his own late-night show. This resulted in Kimmel earning the Guinness World Record for the longest distance traveled in one work week, with 22,406 miles, according to TheThings.

While millions of people might work their entire lives in the hopes of breaking a world record, Kimmel shrugged this off and later stated that he is not sure that he deserves the title at all. Kimmel poked fun at himself and stated during one of his shows, "There is no way I am even in the top 100. A President has definitely topped this, or maybe a Prime Minister, maybe a pope. No way I beat the pope."

His wife was a writer on his show

Many people know of Kimmel's wife of almost a decade, Molly McNearney. What they may not know is that Kimmel was her boss. McNearney began working as a writer's assistant at "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in 2003 when the show first began. But it definitely wasn't love at first sight, McNearney told Glamour. When an executive producer introduced her to Kimmel, he discovered that she competed in triathlons, to which Kimmel responded, "That is really stupid. What a waste of time." McNearney recalls this as the first and only thing he said to her during her first year working there.

Kimmel later made up for this when he began courting McNearney. Initially, she was not interested in him in the slightest because, as explained in Glamour, she believes that not dating your boss is "Workplace 101." However, after a writer's meeting where Kimmel asked everyone their favorite foods, she arrived to his house for a date. "I walked in, and there was a pizza, a BLT, crab claws, a cheeseburger, and gnocchi," she explained. "He had made them all from scratch. I couldn't believe it, and I realized how incredibly thoughtful and generous he really was." Much like her husband, McNearney is a well-accomplished comedy writer who has written for the Oscars, the Emmys, and the White House Correspondents' Dinner when Kimmel had hosting duties, via IMDb.

Jimmy Kimmel loves fishing

There are many things that viewers have come to relate with Jimmy Kimmel's name, but an unexpected one is the great outdoors. Kimmel is a huge lover of fly fishing, and in 2012, he admitted to Vanity Fair that his favorite travel destinations include fly-fishing, one of his favorites being to Huey Lewis' house in Montana. Some of his favorite places to fish are Montana, Idaho, or "anywhere trout are hungry." Photos of his fishing accomplishments can be found scattered across his social media over the course of many years — just check out his Twitter cover photo. 

In 2020, the late-night host turned his hobby into a new passion by purchasing a 25-acre Idaho fishing lodge called the South Fork Lodge, per BoiseDev. This $8 million lodge offers "exclusive lodge based fly dishing adventures on the Snake River" with a luxurious and cozy atmosphere. As explained by Outsider, Kimmel has also long been an advocate for catch-and-release fishing and tries to educate people about the environmental importance of these efforts. 

He has a prank war with John Krasinski

Do you have that one annoying neighbor who always gets on your nerves? Well for Jimmy Kimmel, those neighbors are John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. Their families lived across the street from each other for years and had a tradition of holiday pranking (via Entertainment Weekly). It started innocently enough, with a few Christmas decorations being put in Kimmel's house while he was away, but it eventually culminated into an all-out war spanning almost a decade. 

As catalogued in People and ABC, the pranks by Kimmel include a 26-foot-tall inflatable reindeer, gift wrapping Krasinski's entire house — complete with a winter wonderland and Christmas carolers — and putting yard sale flyers up around LA with Krasinski and Blunt's real home address. The celebrity couple's pranks include gift wrapping Kimmel's car on several occasions and filling every inch of it with ornaments and live carolers. But Krasinski and Blunt upped the ante on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in 2014 when Krasinski dressed as Santa, gift wrapped Kimmel's car, with the intent to give away the talk-show host's personal items. The bit continued as Krasinski then drove Kimmel's car into a telephone pole, another car, and then dropped a piano onto the hood. It comes as no surprise to viewers that these two tricksters have created a yearly tradition out of their love for pranking, that is still going strong.