SXSW: Jimmy Kimmel’s Close Call with Failure

Jimmy Kimmel will tell you, he’s no success. “What are you all doing here?,” Kimmel asked a packed auditorium Saturday at Day 2 of SXSW Interactive. “I have nothing to teach, nothing for you to learn.”

Kimmel recalled his days at the Los Angeles KROQ morning show Kevin and Bean with his old radio cohort and session moderator Kevin Ryder.

He was fired from five radio station gigs and nearly lost his ABC late night show when the network considered cancelling it.

“I was burnt out, exhausted, terrified,” Kimmel says. “I wanted them to cancel it, so I didn’t have to quit.”

Yet, we know from a revealing August 2014 SUCCESS cover story, Kimmel has gone on to earn a reputation as one of the hardest-working late night show hosts in the business, putting in long hours and displaying a work ethic that many take notice of.

While a guest on the show, Michael Keaton turned the tables on Kimmel. “Can I just say something? I read this article on you in SUCCESS magazine, where you talk about your Pop working two jobs. My dad almost always worked two jobs,” Keaton says. “Your work ethic is crazy. That’s very admirable.”

Kimmel also revealed that his popular “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” segment was the idea of his wife, Molly McNeary, a co-head writer on the show. Jimmy Kimmel Live’s most recent newsmaking “Mean Tweets” segment featured President Barack Obama.

“We gave them about 20 mean tweets and let them pick the ones they wanted to read,” Kimmel says. “[Obama] said, ‘These are the meanest tweets you’ve got? I can find a lot meaner tweets than this.’”


Journalist, podcaster and southpaw Shelby Skrhak is the former director of digital content and social media for Before joining SUCCESS magazine, Shelby launched the weekly suburban newspaper Plano Insider, and covered topics ranging from cops and courts to transportation and fashion. Her handwriting should be a font.

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