Jimmy Kimmel Candidly Addresses His Future on Late-Night TV

Jimmy Kimmel
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The comedian says it's a love-hate relationship when he thinks about his role on late-night television.

Jimmy Kimmel wishes he could tell people what the future holds for him on late-night television, but the truth is, he just doesn't know.

The 54-year-old comedian spoke to Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast about a myriad of topics -- from his tearful monologue following the Texas school massacre in Uvalde, Texas to swapping late-night shows with Jimmy Fallon for this year's April Fools' Day prank. And while he offered concrete answers about those subjects, Kimmel, through no fault of his own, was more vague about his future as host of Jimmy Kimmel Live, the popular late-night program he's helmed since January 2003.

"I wish I knew what I was gonna do," he told Variety's Awards Circuit. "I have moments where I go, 'I cannot do this anymore.' And I have moments where I go, 'What am I gonna do with my life if I'm not doing this anymore?' It's a very complicated thing. And there are practical considerations, and there are family and friend considerations and co-worker considerations. And eventually, I am going to have to stop doing this. I'm not going to do this forever. I would not be honest at all if I said that I have decided one way or the other. I"m thinking about it a lot, though."

Kimmel's contract with ABC is set to expire next year. And while he's uncertain about his future with the network and his late-night program one thing's for sure -- Kimmel's evolved from late night's prankster class clown to a moral compass. Take, for example, his monologue following the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 children dead.

Kimmel opened his show without an audience as he tearfully stood in the studio and spoke for more than six minutes, which included a passionate plea to politicians.

“Hi, it’s Jimmy, and I wanted to speak to you directly without an audience for just a bit before we start this show because here we are again on another day of mourning in this country,” the host said. 

“Once again we grieve,” Kimmel continued as he began to choke back tears. “For the little boys and girls whose lives have been ended and whose families have been destroyed while our leaders on the right, the Americans at Congress and at Fox News and these other outlets warn us not to politicize this. They immediately criticize our president for even speaking about doing something to stop it because they don’t want to speak about it. Because they know what they’ve done, and they know what they haven't done and they know it’s indefensible, so they’d rather sweep this under the rug.”  

He told Variety that "a certain amount of pessimism" infects him during difficult times like this, given he's made this passionate plea multiple times. He said he wonders if his carefully crafted words will eventually reach the people who can actually make a difference, like Republican senators and congresspeople. 

"But then it doesn't," Kimmel says. "And it's somewhat shocking. And then it happens again. And then it happens again. And it happens when you're on break, and you're not even on television. And at a certain point, you feel like, what am I screaming into the void here? People agree, and yet we're still not getting anything done. In fact, we're taking steps backwards in so many different areas, not just this one."

But what's a late-night TV host to do during situations like this, Kimmel asks. 

"What are you gonna do, give up? And what are you going to talk about, the NBA Playoffs? You can't," Kimmel concedes. "You have to talk about what is on everyone's mind. And I have a hard time with it. It's very difficult for me, it's hard for me to get through it. But I don't feel like I have any choice."

With his decision pending, the late-night TV landscape will see some change next year regardless when James Corden exits The Late Late Show in Spring 2023. 

The comedian told ET's Nischelle Turner that part of his decision stemmed from knowing when to go out on top.

"I just sort of felt like maybe we'd done enough? Maybe we'd done everything we wanted to do," Corden said, explaining the thought process behind his announcement. "When I took the job -- firstly, I didn't think we'd be on the air, like, six months later. Then as soon as it seemed like we'd be on for a little while, I was very, very determined that the show wouldn't overstay its welcome in any way and that we would always know when to leave -- that we'd always know when to go out on top, because I think that's really important."