You may know Jimmy Kimmel as the late night dude with a penchant for pranking who used to be the co-host of The Man Show and The Sports Guy on KROQ. Which means you may not truly know Jimmy Kimmel. That’s why in this week’s EW cover story, we go beyond the stage of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!—and through the stages of JImmy Kimmel’s life—to paint a more detailed, and, yes, perhaps surprising picture of the person who stands as one of the best reasons to blow off your bedtime. How exactly did we do this? By ringing up his family members, friends, coworkers, and such. You’ll hear revealing anecdotes from his parents, his childhood priest, and celebrities like Ben Affleck, Lena Dunham, John Krasinski, Sarah Silverman and Will Arnett—the very people who have sat in his guest chair on his show and at his house.
Don’t worry—plenty of prank stories await. Cousin Sal comes clean about the time that Jimmy Pampered him as revenge. (Yes, it involves a dirty diaper.) And Aunt Chippy talks about getting burned by his cigarette stunts in more ways than one. But you’ll also learn about that time he became a vigilante wedding DJ to save a reception that was going poorly. And how he became an unlikely mechanic for a day, and a delivery boy for his gourmet tomato soup. Or how he and Ben Affleck like to have big nights on the town that involve… not going out on the town at all but just staying in at Jimmy’s house to watch Game of Thrones. (“I recommend him as a television-watching companion,” says Kimmel. “He doesn’t eat much, though.”)
Then there’s Ben Stein, his former co-host on Win Ben Stein’s Money, who saw Jimmy’s lightning wit up close and won’t won’t stop raving about it. “I’ve been in Hollywood since 1976, and I’ve never met anyone smarter than Jimmy,” he says. “No one. We would often have on contestants who thought they were really smart or wise guys, and they would try to tangle with Jimmy in a battle of wits, and I would say to them, “Please, don’t even try.” And invariably, he would just cut them down to a little shred of themselves…. Jimmy is the only comedian who could be president. If he were president, I would trust him to do the right thing, even though he’s a Democrat.”
And you will even hear about the gentler side of the man who once on TV asked people to sign a petition to end women’s suffrage. “Our Christmas cards and stationery are all handmade by him; our wedding invitation, he drew,” reveals his wife and JKL co-head writer Molly McNearney. “He makes vinegar, he makes pasta from scratch. He really is Martha Stewart. I’ve never met a man that’s so feminine and so masculine at the same time.”
For more with the male Martha, pick up a copy of this week’s Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday.