Late-night hosts try to steer their guests into topics they hope will be rich veins of comedy. Sometimes they strike gold, sometimes they come up empty-handed, and sometimes their desperate digging leaves them looking foolish.
Monday night’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” was an example of the latter.
Host Kimmel tried numerous times to draw some anti-Trump hilarity from guest Kim Kardashian West, but he looked more pathetic each time she refused to take the bait.
West met with President Donald Trump May 30 to seek a pardon for Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old African-American woman who was sentenced to life in prison for a nonviolent drug crime. The president commuted her sentence.
Despite the fact that Trump listened to West and granted her request, Kimmel thought he could get her to trash the president. After a few background questions on the Johnson case, he said, “So you go to the Oval Office, and President Trump is there. And this seemed to be — and I study him like Jane Goodall studies her primates — this seemed to be the happiest day of his presidency,” putting up a photo of the president smiling while seated next to West.
She responded by saying, “Awww … It was such a good — I mean, honestly it was. I mean, I walk in, and I look around and I’m kind of starstruck from the Oval Office. … I had to take a moment to be like, ‘Wait, we’re really here.’”
“Yeah, especially weird that he’s there, right?” Kimmel said.
West didn’t laugh, responding, “You know, I’m very grateful and I’m very hopeful that more good things are going to come out of our conversations.”
Kimmel tried again, this time using the first lady. “Do you have a list now of people that you might ask him to release from prison? Is Melania on it? Because that would be nice.”
She denied him again, responding, “I love Melania.”
After West mentioned that she was in the middle of a nude photo shoot when she received the call from the president about Johnson’s commutation and quickly put on a robe, Kimmel said, “Wait, did the president know you were just in a robe and nothing else? Because he probably would have released the whole prison if you told him. … The gates would have swung open.”
“I — no,” West said, shaking her head.
Kimmel then tried to draw a political line between her and her husband, rapper Kanye West.
“I know that you’re not necessarily a Trump supporter,” he said. “I know your husband, Kanye, seems to like him a lot. Does he still like him?”
“Yeah, I think he really, he really likes — yeah,” she answered.
“Do you guys argue about that? Do you talk politics and, like, have debates about that?” Kimmel said.
“You know what? No, because I always respect what the other person thinks,” she said.
West continued, “I have nothing bad to say about the president. You know, he’s done something amazing. … I don’t agree with everything either. I had no idea what to expect in going in there. I was just like, ‘Look, I’m going to be focused.’ It really turned my idea around in this category.”
Nice try, Jimmy.