Ask Jimmy Kimmel why his eponymous comedy club was among the last to re-open in Las Vegas, and he says, “Thank you for using ‘eponymous’ in a sentence, as if I would understand it.”
He then explains, “We are very slow. We are lazy, and slow.” Of his role in the club operation, Kimmel says, “I’m janitor, No. 1.”
Always with the jokes, even after a long pause at the club that was no laughing matter. Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club has reopened at Linq Promenade, with Kimmel in town this weekend to punctuate the club’s relaunch. Veteran comic-actor Craig Shoemaker has been the Friday-Sunday headliner, with the ever-effervescent Luenell performing 9:30 p.m. Sunday, following Shoemaker.
Kimmel’s club was largely latent after it closed to to ticketed shows in March 2020. During the pandemic shutdown and reopening, the 8,000-square-foot, 300-seat venue had hosted private events, and such functions as Covid 19-vaccination drives.
Word around the comedy scene was JKCC, a favorite among Vegas comics for its prime location and strong name recognition, might not reopen for shows.
But the club has returned to its previous format as Pompey Entertainment’s Damian Costa and Nick Cordaro swept in to take over operations. The shift in management evolved as Eldorado Resorts bought Caesars Entertainment, and now owns Linq Promenade. Many moving parts, as other words.
“We had to figure some things out because Caesars Palace changed hands, and we were a part of their empire,” Kimmel, a proud Clark High School grad, says. “Now we’re still kind of part of their empire, but more independent.”
More from our chat, shortly before key-bearing Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom the Key to the Las Vegas Strip to Kimmel:
He’s looking forward to returning to host his third Oscars telecast. “I actually thought people would be like, ‘He’s already done it twice. Who cares? Enough!’ But it’s been pretty positive and hopefully, it’ll be positive afterward,” Kimmel says. “It’s really a thankless job. If you do really well, maybe you get a little bit of a nod. If you slip up even slightly, God help you. But as you get older, you learn to ignore that stuff.”
He pretends not to know about the Will Smith-Chris Rock Oscars incident: “What happened? Someone got slapped? Was it at a party afterward?” Kimmel says. “I didn’t look at the incident. I didn’t see it. But I’m sorry to hear that. We slept through it.”
JKCC comics will appear remotely on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” This was an original concept, with great potential, after the club opened in June 2019. “We are going to do that, it’s pretty simple, we just hook up a satellite or ISDN line and I say, ‘Here they are!’ ” Kimmel said. “Stand-up comedy on talk shows is a little weird, it’s not necessarily natural for the comics, and I like this environment.”
The fact that “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” hasn’t returned to broadcast from Vegas is no big deal: This might be more a personal concern, but Kimmel has broadcast from Brooklyn — hometown before Vegas — six times, most recently in September. The show has originated from Las Vegas once, from Zappos Theater in April 2019. “The answer are boring,” he says. “It’s about how much it costs, and the difference between getting a big rating in New York … There are more people in New York, a lot more eyeballs.”
He and Adam Carolla once pitched a movie called, “Kill Gallagher”: This comes up when I ask Kimmel for his thoughts about Gallagher’s death Friday morning. “It was about 25 years ago, it was a funny movie,” Kimmel says. “But we’d go into these meetings with executives, and I was in my 30s, and these these executives sit there and they’d be like, ‘OK, so who is Gallagher?’ And at that point Adam would totally lose his cool. ‘Wait a minute! You’re a comedy executive and you don’t know who Gallagher is?’ Eventually we’d be escorted out.”
He turns 55 Sunday: And Kimmel is celebrating by matching $55,000 in donations in support of the ALS Association Nevada Chapter Vegas Walk at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Craig Ranch Park. Kimmel is appearing on behalf of Joey Porrello, diagnosed with ALS in May at age 28. Porrello is Kimmel’s godson, and Kimmel is a close friend of the family (details on the organization and Vegas Walk are @ALSA_Nevada).
He has lost a lot of his audience by skewering Donald Trump: This month, Kimmel told “Naked Lunch” hosts David Wild and Phil Rosenthal that he’d lost at least half of his ABC fan base because of his continued attacks on Trump. He also said he told ABC execs he would not do the show if he were asked to stop the Trump jokes.
I ask Kimmel if he would have had the autonomy early in his career to make a decision certain to cost ABC late-night ratings. “I don’t know, it’s a good question. This is just a different world now,” he says. “You can’t compare anything to what’s going on now. It’s not like something cyclical, you know, it’s not something that happens every nine years like a cicada infestation. It’s that there are crazy things happening. I’m doing a show about what’s going on in the world and the country, every night. How do you not talk about that stuff?”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.