Jimmy Kimmel opened his show on Thursday night with an apology. He was sorry for a few different things. One being that this wasn’t going to be his regular type show. Secondly, for the live studio audience who weren’t going to get the normal comedy they’re use to seeing on JKL. And lastly, because Jimmy knew that he wasn’t going to get through the show’s opening segment without crying. All was forgiven, because everyone watching knew how bad Jimmy Kimmel was hurting from the news that his good friend Don Rickles had passed away.
There was over 40 years difference in their ages, but Jimmy Kimmel and Don Rickles had become extremely close over the years. Rickles had made 18 appearances on JKL and after almost every one of those appearances, Jimmy and Don would go out to eat afterwards. Kimmel opened by saying, “We lost someone that we, and I, loved very much today.” And he told his audience that as crazy as it sounded, at 90 years old, Don Rickles was too young to die. According to Kimmel, “He was, because he was youthful and funny and sharp and generous.”
Speeding through his remarks at times, hoping to keep from crying even more, Jimmy Kimmel talked about how he grew up in Vegas idolizing Don Rickles and like most of us, loved seeing him on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. He then started telling hysterical stories about Don Rickles and how many of those stories involved Don’s close friend, Frank Sinatra. You might risk getting weepy yourself if you watch the clips below of Jimmy Kimmel’s tribute to Don Rickles, but it’s worth the risk of getting emotional just to hear Kimmel tell the Don Rickles / Frank Sinatra “Ketchup Story“. The laughs from that alone will negate any tears.
Jimmy Kimmel also read some personal notes and letters that Don Rickles had mailed him over the years, proving that Rickles was from a classier era of show business. All of those letters were as biting and funny as Rickles was in person. Kimmel then threw it to a montage of Don Rickles’ many appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live, which included Rickles telling another story about Frank Sinatra with this one involving fellow Rat Pack member Dean Martin. The clips were also filled with pearls of wisdom from one of the greatest comedians to ever live. Rickles told Kimmel in one clip, “I exaggerate life to make fun of ourselves. As I make fun of you. You should be proud. Because if I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t make fun of you. But, as I look at you now, you gotta get a nose job.”
The montage clips also included advice for up-and-comers, including Rickles telling Kimmel, “I always say to the young people, try to be different. If you’re different, you have a chance. (To Kimmel:) Like you’re different because nobody knows what the hell you are!” In the remembrance, Don Rickles never left the JKL stage without first giving a sincere thank you, an expression of love and a kiss for the host.
Later, Jimmy Kimmel was joined by Adam Sandler who also had a fantastic Don Rickles story to share which included Steve Buscemi getting called, “Mr. Stink”. You can watch all of this below and share the love that Jimmy Kimmel had for the man he called “the greatest talk show guest of all time.”