The talk show host was in Montreal this past week for the Just for Laughs comedy festival and to be a judge on “Jeff Ross Presents Roast Battle.”
Like a few other comedians, he drew the line at comparing the Republican presidential candidate to the late-Toronto mayor.
“Canadians like to say that,” says Kimmel, “but let’s not forget that Rob Ford was smoking crack. When Donald Trump picks up a crack pipe, then we’ll have a comparison.”
Kimmel did concede that, like Ford, Trump has been “a gift from the comedy gods.” He has a theory as to why the campaigning billionaire seems to get away with one outrageous statement after another.
“He does two crazy things every day,” says Kimmel. “Nothing sticks to him because we can’t keep up with all this stuff. You can’t even focus on one of them because by five o’clock that afternoon he’s done something else.”
Kimmel was saddened by the news of Ford’s passing. The former mayor of Toronto died on March 22 at age 46. Ford and his brother Doug had flown to Los Angeles to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2014.
“I did get to know him and I did get to know his brother,” says Kimmel. “Whatever you want to say about the guy, he really cared about being mayor and he really cared about doing a good job. Obviously he had his demons.”
When the Fords landed at Los Angeles International Airport en route to Kimmel’s show, the host, dressed as a chauffeur, picked them up in a limo.
“I don’t think he knew who I was,” says Kimmel. “I do remember he spent the whole car ride on the phone, calling back constituents who had left him phone messages.”
That was impressive, says Kimmel. “I wish his spirit would somehow fill the potholes on my drive to work.”
Kimmel made his first appearance at Just for Laughs 19 years ago and says he “immediately fell deeply in love” with Montreal.
“It’s hard for people in America to understand that restaurants turn into nightclubs at the end of the meal. We usually have dessert and go home. In our restaurants, they don’t move the tables and start dancing.”
At 48, Kimmel is now one of the veteran players on the late-night scene. He’s entering his 14th season hosting Jimmy Kimmel Live.
“We’re all working so much harder than anyone ever used to,” he says, suggesting one of his idols, Johnny Carson, “played a lot of tennis back in his day.
“I think we ruined the job for everyone by adding these viral videos and these sketches to the mix,” says Kimmel. “It used to be a reasonable job that you could go home at six o’clock at night and not think about the show until the next day. That has definitely changed.”
One Kimmel sketch that played for weeks on Facebook and YouTube — a song and dance number starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane — likened Trump’s campaign to the Broadway farce The Producers. It looks like it took days to shoot but Kimmel says it was pulled together in an afternoon.
“It makes you realize how much money they waste making these movies when you put something together so quickly.”
Kimmel’s next challenge will come Sept. 18 when he’ll be hosting the Emmy awards. The trick to hosting awards shows, he says, is not to get “too inside” by assuming that the audience has seen your show.
“I think if you approach it as if it’s your show, instead of a show you’re hosting, you’re automatically getting off on the wrong foot.”