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Jimmy Kimmel Became a True Heir to David Letterman’s Throne on Monday Night

Kimmel's grace, humor, tears and powerful message were reminiscent of the broadcast icon that he has worshipped since childhood.

David Letterman on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”


There’s no bigger David Letterman fan in the world than Jimmy Kimmel. And on Monday night, Kimmel lived up to his hero’s late night legacy.

Kimmel’s heartfelt 13-minute monologue about the birth of his son Billy, who underwent successful open-heart surgery at just 3 days old, was positively Letterman-esque.

READ MORE: Jimmy Kimmel Reveals Newborn Son’s Heart Surgery in Tearful Monologue — Watch

At one point during his Monday open, Kimmel pulled out a sheet of paper and gave truly heartfelt thanks for the doctors and nurses who saved Billy’s life. It was reminiscent of the time that Letterman, recovering from heart surgery, brought out the doctors who saved his life.

Fighting back tears, Kimmel managed to share deeply personal details about his son’s condition, while also eliciting a bit of self-deprecating humor and shining the spotlight on Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, hopefully bringing in some always-needed donations to help sick kids.

Jimmy Kimmel

But just as important: Kimmel fully embraced the opportunity to add a bit of a moral center to the debate over affordable health care, putting a human face on the discussion and reminding his audience that as humans, we ought to be looking out for one another a bit more.

“If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t have to matter how much money you make,” he said. “Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right? We need to make sure the people who are supposed to represent us understand that. This isn’t football, there are no teams. We are the team. It is the United States. We need to take care of each other. No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It shouldn’t happen. Not here.”

Kimmel’s monologue recalled other emotional moments over the 14-year history of “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” including his tribute to his Uncle Frank, a show fixture who died in 2011, and even the more recent passing of Don Rickles, another “Jimmy Kimmel Live” staple.

READ MORE: The Best of Don Rickles: ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ Pays Tribute to the Comedy Legend — Watch

But this was next level: Kimmel didn’t have to jump into the Affordable Health Care Act debate. But he saw a moral imperative to do so, and he took it. And it comes at a time where he could truly make a difference.

It’s not something you see all that often in late night. Jon Stewart did it over gun control after the 2015 Emanuel AME Church Shooting, and now Kimmel’s short but powerful take may have a lasting impact on the debate over the right to healthcare.

Kimmel has idolized Letterman since he was a kid, celebrating his birthday by holding a “Late Night with David Letterman”–themed party. Now, he’s produced a legacy that even Letterman could be proud of.

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