This past year has changed Jimmy Kimmel.
The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host opened up at ABC’s Television Critics Association press tour on Monday about his 8-month-old son, Billy's, health issues and viewers' response to his first emotional monologue about them in May.
“It definitely has changed my approach in general,” the 50-year-old comedian said. “Not just to the show, but in how I conduct myself.”
Kimmel has subsequently spoken about Billy's health issues several times on his talk show, often urging viewers to call their representatives to defend affordable healthcare options for children.
“I feel like I happened into a situation, at a very specific time in American history, in which I was able to say something which hopefully at least made people pay attention, if nothing else,” he continued. "It hopefully got them to pick up their phones to tell their leaders what they expect and what they want."
But Kimmel rejects the idea that he helped “save” the Affordable Care Act. “It’s just such a no-brainer," he insisted. "You see a guy you think you know and his baby has a serious health issue, and I just brought up other people who had babies and children who themselves have serious health issues – I don’t think it’s particularly remarkable that Americans reacted that way, because whatever side we’re on, we agree that we have to take care of children.”
Despite the fact that he has become known as a passionate advocate for healthcare, the soon-to-be two-time Oscars host says he doesn’t plan on taking time out of the upcoming Academy Awards broadcast to speak on it.
“Ultimately you have to remember why you’re there, and it’s not about you. You’re there to entertain people who are there on the biggest night of their lives, and if it gets too heavy, it takes away from that,” he said. “I will always be focused on children’s healthcare, and healthcare in general, but unless something major happens that makes me compelled to do it, I don’t necessarily see it as something I’ll focus on.”
Speaking at the Oscars on sexual harassment, however, is something that is very much on his mind – especially after Seth Meyers tackled the topic head on during Sunday night’s Golden Globes broadcast.
“I felt Seth made a joke specifically for me and my wife,” Kimmel said, referencing a joke from Meyers’ monologue about sending the first dog into space to see if it came back alive. “And I did feel that way, ‘I have to see what Seth says and how it’s received,’ and I thank him for being that litmus test.”
But, Kimmel admits, with the Oscars still almost two months away, it’s hard to know exactly how he will address it. “It’s a bit like getting into a hot tub. You can’t really tell the temperature until you get into it,” he joked. “But suffice it to say, it will be a part of the show unless there’s a nuclear weapon heading to Sacramento that night.”
One actor who can be sure he’ll get called out by the host, however, is Kimmel’s best frenemy, Matt Damon. The Downsizing actor came under fire recently for comments that seemed to minimize the behavior of Louis C.K. and Al Franken, who have both been accused by multiple women for sexual misconduct.
“Matt Damon was born a joke," Kimmel quipped. "I hope that we’re focused on something else two months from now, but if there’s a chance for me to give Matt a little elbow in the ribs, I’m always open to it."