Jay Leno wasn’t the only celebrity that I managed to spot while on my four-night excursion through California. Nope, his show wasn’t the only one that I got to catch. In following with the late night trend, I so happened to be walking past the El Capitan Theater on Hollywood Boulevard when a couple of the show’s representatives reached out and asked if I wanted to be a part of the live audience for Jimmy Kimmel Live! Without too much hesitation, I replied with a “Why not?” and signed up myself up to come back in a couple of hours when the taping for the late night talk show would commence.

When I returned to join the lineup, I started to see what all the hub-bub was about in front of Graumann’s Chinese Theater (which was across the street). They were holding the premiere for Mission Impossible III that Thursday evening, and the expected attendees including none other than Scientologist Tom Cruise and his recently de-pregnant-ated (yes, I know that’s not a word) Katie Holmes. As luck would have it, just as we were about to enter the El Capitan Theater to be seated for Jimmy Kimmel, the unmistakable theme from Mission Impossible blared over the loudspeakers as a Bugatti Veyron came ripping down the closed-to-the-public Hollywood Boulevard.

The driver was Tom Cruise. He pulled a u-turn at the end of the block and came back around to park on the red carpet. He emerged for the hot sports coupe (said to be 1001hp, priced north of $1 million USD) to a sea of flashing lights – there were crazed fans with cameras everywhere, not to mention the army of press surrounding the event as well – and he walked around to the passenger door to help the lovely Katie Holmes (who is notably taller than Cruise). I tried to
cast away the rumours of him eating the placenta from Suri’s birth.

He went around the crowd, graciously provided photo ops before doing a few autographs. Unfortunately for me, the staff at Jimmy Kimmel told us to move it along and into their venue. With a little bit of a grumble, we – and the several other people in line – complied and waited in the lobby to be seated. I have no regrets for watching Jimmy Kimmel, but I do have a few comments that I just need to get out there.

There’s a reason why Jimmy Kimmel is often not mentioned in the same breath as Jay Leno, David Letterman, or Conan O’Brien. He just isn’t as good an interviewer. I’ve never caught an episode – is that what you call them? – of Jimmy Kimmel Live prior to this appearance, but what I found is that he doesn’t seem to allow his guest to freely ramble and express themselves. It is as if he deems it necessary to butt in his voice every so often with an “Is that so?” or the occasional “Uh huh” and “Right right…”

Much more so than The Tonight Show, the organizers behind Jimmy Kimmel live work very hard to get the crowd “into it”. We felt it almost necessary to force the laughter and applause for Jimmy’s sake, and I do not like the feeling of being manipulated. The banter just wasn’t as
captivating as Jay’s, and Jimmy’s bald lackey sort of bothered me when he went around waving his arms, trying to convince us to laugh or applaud. The show does seem more audience-focused, however, with the cameramen swinging around to get live shots of “authentic” haha’s and hoho’s.

The guests that evening included Isaiah Washington from Grey’s Anatomy, probably better known to the average public as “that black guy that’s going out with that Korean girl on that TV show.” He talked about getting his DNA tested to discover his real roots: his father’s bloodline traces back to Angola, whereas his matrilineal heritage is that of Sierra Leone. The second guest was Kathie Lee Gifford, who was just as talkative and extroverted as always. The evening concluded with a couple of musical performances from the British alternative rock group Art Brut, who played some interesting tracks from their latest album “Bang Bang Rock and Roll”. Brit rock usually isn’t my cup of tea, but these guys were certainly entertaining.