Jimmy Kimmel Looks Back on 20 Years of 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' for Anniversary Episode
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Jimmy Kimmel is celebrating 20 years of Jimmy Kimmel Live! by replicating his show's first-ever episode. Kimmel welcomed George Clooney, Snoop Dogg and Coldplay as his first guests in 2003, and on Thursday, all three returned for a moment of celebration.
Kimmel kicked things off by airing the show's first-ever intro before stepping out onto the stage to a standing ovation from the adoring audience.
"I'm not retiring, this is just an anniversary show," Kimmel joked to roars from the audience. He then read some of the mean-tweet-esque headlines about his debut which called Jimmy Kimmel Live! dead on arrival. The critics were wrong, however, with the show still proving to be a success 20 years later.
The longtime host then panned to celebrations of the show's 20th anniversary taking place all over the world, from London and Buenos Aires and all the way to North Korea.
Jokes aside, Kimmel reflected on how far the show has come in its 20 years on air, noting that when the show premiered in 2003, there were no iPhones, YouTube, Uber, Twitter, Wi-Fi, Netflix or Google.
"We had Nokia's and Ask Jeeves and that was it," Kimmel quipped. "Been through two wars, a worldwide pandemic, four presidents, one insurrection, at least three different Kanye's."
"Wanna know how long our show's been around?" He continued. "We still have a Blockbuster card. That's how long. If you told me we were gonna last longer than Blockbuster, I would've sooner believed I would be working at Blockbuster in 20 years."
Kimmel credited the show's success to two things: a deal he made with the devil and the staff and crew behind the beloved late-night program.
Getting emotional, Kimmel began naming off all the players who make Jimmy Kimmel Live! possible, including his wife, Molly McNearney.
Kimmel had a special thank you for his sidekick and longtime partner in crime, Guillermo.
"I must have rubbed up against a magic lamp and God sent Guillermo to reward me," Kimmel said before getting choked up once more.
"He's dying," he joked, breaking the emotional moment with a laugh. "I love you dude," Guillermo replied.
Before welcoming the show's special guests, Kimmel ran down a list of all the "dumb" topics they've covered like Octomom, Hulk Hogan's sex tape, and also the issues that matter to the TV personality, like healthcare and sensible gun laws.
"So, in summary," Kimmel said, concluding his opening monologue, "I want to say thank you to those with us from the beginning, and for those who joined along the way. Thank you for your patience."
"I don't take this for granted," he added before making a quip against his sworn frenemy, Matt Damon. "And I promise, for as long as I am here, you'll never have to see Matt Damon's stupid face on this show."
In celebration of the show's milestone moment, Kimmel plastered several nostalgic billboards around Hollywood promoting the show's 20th anniversary.
"Happy 2003! We’re celebrating 20 years of @JimmyKimmelLive this Thursday in PRIMETIME at 10|9c with the same guests we had on our first show - #GeorgeClooney @SnoopDogg #ChrisMartin @Coldplay #KIMMELx20," Kimmel wrote alongside the ad which features a photo of the host from the show's first season.
Kimmel also shared some photos from shows past, which included guests like Zoey Deschanel, Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, Tracy Morgan and more, as well as a special cameo from his son Billy.
ET's Kevin Frazier spoke to Kimmel ahead of Thursday's show, where he reflected on the show's inaugural episode and how far the show's come since.
"I had the displeasure of sitting down and forcing myself to watch [the show's first episode] this week," Kimmel quipped. "It is incredible that I am still on the air."
Kimmel told ET he's hoping for fewer nerves this time around.
"I did not know George Clooney, and of course, he's George Clooney," Kimmel said of the first episode. "On top of being nervous about doing the show itself and on top of the show being live and all those things to go along with, I had to talk to George Clooney and act like we had a relationship."
Kimmel said the situation was rather humbling. After speaking with Clooney, he said, he introduced Coldplay's performance.
"There were five thousand people out on Hollywood boulevard ready to see them and not me."
Kimmel said he's proud of the show he and his team have built since then. "I learned on the job," he said. "Not only is it weird that we're still on the air, but it's weird all these people are still very popular."
Kimmel added that his journey hasn't been one he took on his own. Guillermo, who began as a real parking lot security guard on the show's lot, has been a vital piece of the puzzle.
"We recognized that he was funny," Kimmel said, and they invited him to perform on the show. Guillermo still maintains his security guard position as his onstage character, but performs nightly alongside Kimmel. "It really is one of the best things about the show, knowing that he’s become this beloved American star," Kimmel said.
Guillermo also sang Kimmel's praises. "Jimmy as a boss, he's great," Guillermo told ET. "The way I see Jimmy Kimmel is the way I see my wife," he quipped, adding, "happy wife, happy life."
The two are bound to continue with their antics and are thrilled to keep working with each other. Kimmel told ET he has no plans for leaving anytime soon, and Guillermo added that he will join Kimmel at the Oscars in March, when Kimmel returns to host for a third time.
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