“The challenge for me is that a million jokes have been made about this subject,” Kimmel told press early Monday morning, promoting his Mar. 4 return to the Dolby Theatre. The Live! host famously had to wrap up last year’s telecast after the top prize was briefly and mistakenly given to La La Land instead of Moonlight. “If it happens again, literally everyone at ABC should be fired,” he continued. “But I think 99 percent of the show went pretty well. I don’t think of it as a Titanic-caliber disaster.”
ABC was quick to tap Kimmel for a second go at the Oscar gig. The late-night host’s first performance was well received, albeit somewhat overshadowed by the snafu, and the year that’s followed has been among the stronger years of his career. Speaking just a few hours after Seth Meyers wrapped his own awards show emceeing at the Golden Globes, Kimmel said he did watch, and that he agreed with Meyers comparing himself — the first awards show host since the eruption of sexual misconduct testimonials rocked Hollywood — to the first dog in space.
“Seth made that joke specifically for me,” said Kimmel, laughing. How he’ll incorporate the Globes’ dominant theme of harasser-shaming is to be be determined: “The problem is that it’s two months from now. If you ask me the night before, I’ll have a better answer for you. But it will be part of the material unless there’s a nuclear weapon heading to Sacramento that night. Then we’ll probably skip it.”
Rehashing his 2017 performance a bit, Kimmel offered up his explanation of why one joke about Moonlight fell flat: “I think a lot of people in the room haven’t seen the movies they voted for.” Making the audience laugh, perhaps even more than the TV viewers, is a priority. “We’ve been conditioned to react to laugh tracks since the ‘50s. I think it’s important for the people at home to hear the audience laughing maybe more than the jokes themselves.”
One thing Kimmel seems reluctant to approach at this year’s Oscars is health care. The host, whose infant son recently required heart surgery, earned praise for his heartfelt pleas for the GOP majority to not disenfranchise millions of insured children.
“I don’t intend to use the Oscars a platform for health care, not that I don’t think it’s something important,” he said. “Ultimately you have to remember why you’re there. It’s not about you. And you’re there to entertain people on the biggest night of their lives. If it gets too heavy, you’re taking away from that.”