Even Martin Short wants to know: What’s Jimmy Kimmel’s problem with Jay Leno?
It’s a question that arises time and time again, and it arose Monday night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” when Short asked Kimmel, “What is your beef with Jay Leno?”
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The subject comes up from time to time because Kimmel has been so vocal over the past year or so in voicing his dislike for Leno.
Kimmel even seemed to increase the frequency of his anti-Leno statements in the latter half of last year in the months leading up to Kimmel’s move to 11:35 p.m. this past January. He now competes directly with Leno and David Letterman.
In a guest appearance Monday night on “JKL,” it was Short who brought up the subject of the late-night wars. “How are you, Jimmy?” Short asked Kimmel at the start of their visit together. “Or,” Short said, “as they call you at NBC, ‘the other Jimmy’!”
On all of the late-night shows, Short maintains an act in which he and his host discuss various aspects of show business in a manner that is self-consciously insincere — and also highly comedic. Still, Short was serious when he asked Kimmel to clarify why he doesn’t care for Leno. (Among other statements, Kimmel used the f-word in an interview last summer when he was asked to describe his feelings about Leno.)
“You are such a pro,” Short told Kimmel, referring to Kimmel’s monologue earlier in Monday’s show. “I mean, I was watching you. No, really! It’s the height of professionalism! You come out here, you’re funny, you’re free and, you know, just five minutes before he came out,” said Short, addressing the audience, “he found out that Leno’s coming to ABC and …”
This news was, of course, not true. “Not Jay Leno, I hope!” quipped Jimmy.
“Look,” Short said, “12:30’s gonna be lots of fun!”
Then Kimmel asked how Short feels about Leno, even trying to get Short to admit that he, too, doesn’t like Jay. “Where do you stand on that?” Kimmel asked. “You are happy to see Jay Leno go, true?” Kimmel said, referring to NBC’s plan to replace Leno with Jimmy Fallon next year.
“Not true at all,” Short said. “I love Jay.” Whether he “loves” Leno or not, Short has appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” many times, along with all the other late-night shows. In fact, Short’s appearances on “Late Show with David Letterman” are particularly legendary as Short usually performs a comedic musical number under the direction of his life-long friend, Paul Shaffer.
Then Short turned the tables on Kimmel. “What is your big beef with Jay Leno?” Short asked him.
And then Kimmel said, “I don’t have a beef,” which struck us as disingenuous since Kimmel clearly does have a beef with Leno, though we’re not quite sure what it is.
Short then returned to comedy when he told Kimmel, “But I would say of all these guys, of all the people I have a fake show business relationship with, I feel fake-closest to you! I really do!”
For the record, in interviews he did in the weeks before “Jimmy Kimmel Live” moved to 11:35 p.m., Kimmel tried to clarify his views on Leno. Generally speaking, his reasons for disliking Leno have to do with (1) Leno out-dueling Kimmel’s idol — Letterman — for “The Tonight Show” back in 1992 and (2) Leno maneuvering successfully to retake “The Tonight Show” when Conan O’Brien faltered in 2010.
And yet, these reasons always have us asking the same question: So Jay Leno politicked for the “Tonight Show” job — how does this effect Jimmy Kimmel?