Jimmy Kimmel Talks About His Palm Springs Past

Karen Devine Interviews Jimmy Kimmel

POSTED: 12:00 AM PST Feb 05, 2013    UPDATED: 11:00 PM PST Feb 05, 2013 
Jimmy Kimmel & Karen Devine
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -

There's a new kid on the block in the late night comedy realm and by the look of things, he's holding his own in the race for ratings against two of late night staples, Jay Leno and David Letterman. 

Jimmy Kimmel is giving ABC a chance to hit the bigs in the coveted late night time period that starts at 11:35. 

While he's been on the air for the past 10 years for the network, he's never been more popular. 

Still, he took the time to talk to Karen Devine about his rising star, his love of late night and his close connection to the Coachella Valley.

Jimmy Kimmel, he's young, he's hip, he's funny, he's in LA and he gets all the hottest celebrities to come on his show.  The formula is working for the ABC network who has seen the late night ratings soar since they moved Kimmel from his midnight start for the past 10 years to 11:35 less than a month ago.  Since the move, things are happening fast, in fact, he now has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

Kimmel says the star is meaningful.

"I probably would have survived had they not given it to me but it was meaningful you know, I have a picture of myself as a 10 year old kid on Hollywood Walk of Fame of me looking at the stars so you know it meant something to get it and it meant something to my parents especially."

Kimmel is not an overnight sensation, he's been working hard and moving around bringing his kind of comedic timing and magic since college.  He's most known as the co-host of comedy central's "The Man Show" and "Win Ben Stein's Money."  He's also produced a number of television shows.  But before TV, he was in radio and one of his starts was at a station in Palm Springs, 92.7 KCMJ.

Scott Kiner of Kiner Communications was Kimmel's former boss, General Manager of KCMJ.

"Jimmy was about 23/24 years of age and actually he didn't go by Jimmy Kimmel on the air, he went by Chris Kimmel, I never figured that out, but he had a lot of energy."

"He started the show with the same song, I don't wanna work, I just want to bang on the drum all day.  It was always a signature that the show was starting."

Kimmel remembers Scott fondly,

"Scott, by the way, is the only GM who never fired me, I think I had in my radio career, so I'm indebted to him for that."

Kimmel also remembers an intern that has also had much success.

"Carson Daly and I worked together at that show, Carson was my intern and kind of sidekick on the air, we had a lot of fun working in Palm Springs."

Scott Kiner recalls the relationship between Kimmel and Daly.

"Jimmy was really happy when Carson Daly came along, somebody he could use as a prop that he can manipulate."

Carson Daly was part of many on air pranks that Kimmel would think up.

"I would call him Fred on the air and he'd be somewhere on Fred Waring.  People driving by would have to tell me what's Fred wearing and they would win some garbage prize and make anyone look like a fool."

Once Daly was out on Fred Waring and Monterey wearing only a cowboy hat, boots and his boxers.

Kiner enjoyed Kimmel's wit.

"Sometimes his gags went a little too far but generally speaking I thought it was very funny very witty."

While behind the scenes at Jimmy Kimmel live I learned jimmy surrounds himself with friends and family who work for him.  He often uses some of them in skits, like the now famous Guillermo who has become his sidekick.  His Aunt Chippy, Cousin Sal, bandleader Cleto and his father Cleto Junior are often called upon to do Kimmel's dirty work for laughs.  He used the same formula in Palm Springs.

Kiner remembers one gag in particular.

"His book keeper was from Brooklyn and she was jewish and she had this heavy yiddish accent and Jimmy just took to her like you can't believe.  She became the weather lady and she did weather every morning on the show, it was just hilarious."

25 years later -- Kiner remembers Kimmel fondly but didn't hesitate to say, he was kind of a snot nose kid when he was in Palm Springs.

Kimmel agrees. "He's right I was a snot nose kid, now I'm just a middle-age man whose balding."

Kiner continues to praise Kimmel.

"He went from playing in the little leagues to a star in the major leagues, he's done a tremendous job for himself."