Jimmy Kimmel boasted Saturday night that the majority of late-night talk shows hosts are liberal because the job requires “a measure of intelligence.”
The comedian made the comment during a live podcast called “Pod Save America” at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, hosted by former Obama administration officials Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor.
Mr. Kimmel, a frequent President Trump critic who has spoken out on a number of issues ranging from health care to gun control, said he decided to get into political comedy and advocacy due to a “real serious concern for the future of this country.”
He said political comedy can be dangerous because hosts risk alienating half of their audience, but it’s more important to be honest with viewers than to be universally funny.
“The history of late-night television is, ‘Don’t show your hand. Don’t tell people what your political affiliation is,'” Mr. Kimmel said. “I think Jon Stewart really changed that, but when it came to network television that was really still the case. It wasn’t until late in [David] Letterman’s career that we knew what his affiliation is. Jay Leno — I think most people thought he was a Republican and he’s not, he’s a Democrat, but you wouldn’t know it from watching his show.
“And there was some wisdom to that, because when you tell a joke, if you think the person telling the joke is unbiased, you can just appreciate the joke for what it is,” he said. “The underlying reason is you could potentially lose half your audience if they feel like you’re not one of them. Maybe the good thing about now about having 100 different channels and 30 different talk shows is you can be honest and you can talk about these things and these things that mean something to you.”
“And it also just so happens that pretty much every late-night talk show host is a liberal, and that’s because it requires a measure of intelligence,” he added, sparking a roar of applause. “Not a ton, not a tremendous amount of intelligence, but you do have to be over the base line.”
Mr. Kimmel bid his right-leaning viewers a farewell in October, saying he had no regrets attacking Republican leadership and “would do it again in a heartbeat.”
“I want everyone with a television to watch the show,” he told CBS at the time. “But if they’re so turned off by my opinion on health care and gun violence, then I don’t know. I probably won’t want to have a conversation with them anyway.”
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