SXSW: Jimmy Kimmel Wanted ABC to Cancel 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' in First Year

ABC/Randy Holmes
Jimmy Kimmel

The comedian was at SXSW to host his late-night show live from Austin.

The first year of Jimmy Kimmel Live! wasn't easy for its host. 

Jimmy Kimmel revealed during South by Southwest that he wanted ABC to cancel the show early on. "I was burnt out, exhausted, terrified," he said, explaining that on some days, he would be without a guest just hours before he was supposed to go live. "I wanted them to cancel it, so I didn't have to quit." 

More than 13 years later, Kimmel has found his groove. Speaking to a packed house at the annual festival, the comedian took a walk down memory lane with interviewer Kevin Ryder, host of KROQ morning show Kevin and Bean, where Kimmel got his start. 

"There was almost nothing planned for my first show," he remembered, noting that he was going to just sit down and "hold up newspaper articles and bullshit my way through my show."

Despite his love of David Letterman, Kimmel said he didn't dream of becoming a talk show host. "My goal was never to host a late-night talk show," he said. "My goal was just to keep watching a late-night talk show. It never occurred to me that anyone other than David Letterman or Johnny Carson would have a late-night talk show." 

Over the years, Kimmel has made a name for himself in late night with his star-studded viral videos, including I'm F—ing Matt Damon and the Mean Tweets segment. Last week, Kimmel hosted President Barack Obama on the show and had him read some of his mean tweets. "We gave them about 20 mean tweets, and they picked the tweets they wanted to read," he said. "He said, 'These are the meanest tweets you have? I can find a lot more mean tweets than this.' " 

Kimmel also revealed that the popular segment — the Obama edition already has more than 12 million views on YouTube — was the idea of his wife, Molly McNearney, who is co-head writer on the show. "There are still some people that won't do it," he said. "I think it's more their publicists saying they won't do it." 

Kimmel was at SXSW ahead of the weeklong taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live! from Austin. Confirmed guests include Kevin Hart, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Kanye West

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