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'Jimmy Kimmel': Last night's anniversary show, with octuplets and wool socks

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Jimmy Kimmel Live celebrated its seventh anniversary last night with a party that took its mood from its host: Low-key and modest, with a lot to be modest about. Over the years, he’s grown more comfortable in his role — less frat-boy sloppy, more smooth jokester.

Kimmel’s biggest-name guest was Harrison Ford — not because he and Kimmel have some sentimental bond (although Ford did appear in Kimmel’s “He’s F—ing Ben Affleck” video), but rather because Ford just happens to be out promoting his film Extraordinary Measures. He gave Kimmel a pair of wool socks, which Ford pulled from the crotch of his pants — just the sort of genially vulgar gesture that suits Kimmel.

The only moment of real amusement was Kimmel’s own amazement over the fact that what he called Ford’s “delightful gal pal,” Calista Flockhart, has not seen Star Wars. Oh, and Jimmy’s taped piece on Steven Tyler’s Home Depot tour:

Kristen Bell was Kimmel’s other guest. While she was typically charming and briskly energetic, I kept thinking, this woman is one of Craig Ferguson’s favorite, recurring guests — he elicits so much more funniness from her!

Kimmel’s not working on the same level as David Letterman or Craig Ferguson, of course. I’ve never seen a full hour of Kimmel Live that was solid from start to finish, the way Dave and Craig can occasionally bat out a show with a superb monologue, amusing desk-work, and entertaining interviews. Kimmel’s show tends to be as lumpy as his suits.

On the other hand, in his favor, he’s neither as slick as Leno nor as callow as Fallon; he’s a smart guy who’s always trying to lower your expectations of him, because he knows that’s the way to pleasantly surprise us. Occasionally. Not too frequently.

As long as he occasionally comes up with taped bits as funny as his Matt Damon and talk-show-war videos, Kimmel will always be welcome. Happy anniversary, Jimmy.

What do you think of Kimmel?

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