Jay Leno says he knows why Jimmy Kimmel’s late night ratings are poor, explaining that audiences are put off from the ABC show because of the host’s mean streak.
Talking to TVInsider, Leno, who hosted The Tonight Show for two separate stints between May 25, 1992, and May 29, 2009, as well as between March 1, 2010, and February 6, 2014, insisted that he still finds Jimmy Kimmel really funny though.
“The most element you can have in doing a late night show is kindness. Because the show makes you arrogant. I think that’s Jimmy Kimmel’s problem. I think he’s a talented guy, I think he’s funny. But he has a mean streak, and it comes across.”
Leno even had a prime example of Jimmy Kimmel being mean, explaining that he’s not a particular fan of one of his skits.
“He does this thing where he takes Halloween candy from kids and the kids cry. What am I missing here? It is funny I guess, but it’s mean-based. I think that’s why he’s not higher in the ratings.”
Back in March, Variety reported that The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon had a nightly audience of 3.882 million viewers, while Kimmel’s show only had 2.763 million. Most alarmingly for his rivals though was that Jimmy Fallon pulled in “as many young adults as the combined totals of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live and CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman.”
Jay Leno reiterated the same point he’d made regarding Kimmel to the Hollywood Reporter, adding that the job “makes you think you’re superior,” and as a consequence, you have a “tendency to nail the little guy.” Leno also noted that he didn’t like the Halloween candy skit because “it doesn’t come from the heart.”
Leno also praised the latest additions to the late night family, insisting that he’s a huge fan of pretty much every talk show host that has come onboard in the last few years.
“I like Seth [Meyers], I like Jimmy [Fallon],” Leno remarked to TVInsider. “I think [Stephen] Colbert will be really good. He’s really clever. I don’t know him well. The right likes to paint him as a tool of the left, but the man teaches Sunday School. He’s a pretty conservative guy from what I can see. But he’s truly a nice guy and decent human being.”
In his conversation with THR, Leno admitted that while he’s looking forward to Colbert’s debut, there should be more diversity on late night television, teasing about Colbert, “The idea of a white guy in late night, this is revolutionary.”
[Image via NBC]