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You don't know Jimmy Kimmel... but Ben Affleck, Lena Dunham and his childhood priest do

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ART STREIBER for EW

Jimmy Kimmel is exactly who you think he is. Jimmy Kimmel is nothing like you think he is. Spend an hour or two chatting with the leaned-down 47-year-old host of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! (“On Mondays and Thursdays, I don’t eat,” he deadpans) in his artifact-stacked office above Hollywood Boulevard (notice: an ESPY award that he swiped from ESPN, a blanket with a picture of Michael Jackson’s son Blanket on it, an R. Crumb drawing of a banjo player on the back of a menu, three clarinets) and you will glean a portrait of a hard-driven, impish guy who actually might be the sharpest knife in the booby-trapped drawer. You’re probably already familiar with the bio basics. Raised in Brooklyn and Las Vegas. Began his career on the radio as a morning-drive DJ and KROQ’s wise-ass Jimmy the Sports Guy. Co-hosted two Comedy Central series, Win Ben Stein’s Money and The Man Show. Launched his ABC late-night talk show in 2003 to rocky ratings, but with swift-of-foot wit, crafty bits like “Unnecessary Censorship” and “Mean Tweets” and devilish pranks like “I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy” and “Worst Twerk fail EVER”, eventually turned JKL, which now airs at 11:35 p.m., into a Nielsen contender (it’s the no. 2 broadcast late-night talk show among 18-to-49-year-olds) and viral epidemic (2.6 billion views on his YouTube channel). Talk to the people who knew Kimmel as a little kid or a big kidder, though, and you’ll see that there are many more dimensions to the perpetually moving entertainer. (After playing host to President Obama last week, he’s currently staging a week of shows in Austin.) Did you know that he’s a chef who makes his own vinegar, an artist who sketches people in meetings, and a comedian who’s maddeningly relentless in bullet-proofing a joke? Below, we bring you revealing tales from some of the folks closest to Kimmel—his parents, his wife, his childhood priest, Ben Affleck—and then let him have the last word.

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