LOS ANGELES — Every time the team at Jimmy Kimmel Live packs their bags and hits the road, it's a bit like taking a school field trip. It requires heaps of organization, is a welcomed break from the norm, and, as Kimmel himself puts it, "there's always somebody you wouldn't expect on the crew or in the office [who] will reveal a side of themselves that no one knew about."
And — especially when your destination is Austin, Texas — it's also, naturally, a ton of fun.
"It's a lot of work and it's expensive, too, but it's a lot of fun to do a huge group of very enthusiastic viewers," Kimmel tells HDT, just days ahead of his show's arrival in the Lone Star state, where it will host a week of shows during SXSW for the second year in a row. "You just kind of get in a rut in the studio, and that energy is something you definitely feed on."
Well, that, and barbecue. "Wherever there's barbecue, that's where you'll find me. I'm not that much different than a doberman pinscher," he jokes.
Part of the visit will also entail giving back, though. In late January, the show sought out local businesses "who might need a boost," according to Kimmel, to contact them for the chance to have him and upcoming guest Matthew McConaughey in a commercial.
They announce the winning business on Monday.
All that, of course, is being plotted as Kimmel preps for his first in-person interview with President Barack Obama, who appeared on the show via satellite back in June 2008 and hasn't been on late night since a December sitdown onThe Colbert Report.
The plan, Kimmel says, is to keep it light and different from the usual presidential interview.
"I'm not obviously the guy who's going to interrogate him," he says, "but I just think the way to approach something like this is to ask questions that genuinely interest me."
He's interested in the day-to-day life of the president, the ins and outs ... and the extra terrestrials.
"If I was president, the first thing I'd do is go right into the files to see if there were UFOs," he says. "That's something I definitely want to know."
Though best known for being the asker of questions, it's Kimmel's opinions that have been getting him some attention recently — particularly his criticism of the anti-vaccine movement. Kimmel maintains that vaccines are not a political issue, however, or one up for debate, really.
"It's an issue of reason and common sense," he says. "There seems to be 14 maniacs that tweet over and over and over again and, listen, if you're going to make an argument that you shouldn't vaccinate your children, you're not a reasonable person, as far as I'm concerned."
Kimmel never had any hesitation about using his late night comedy program as a platform to state his case — and, some might say, the facts — on vaccines. It was simply a reflection of the conversations he'd seen happening. That approach, he says, has yet to fail him.
"I always assume that if it's something I'm talking about with my friends or we're talking about at the office or with people I know ... it probably means there are a lot of people out there having the same conversations," he says. "I think we all think we're so unique and we're the only people who have certain thoughts, but you find out when you host a TV show that that's not the case. If three people are thinking something in your office, there are probably 40 million people thinking the same thing."
He plans to stay true to that, even as the late-night field sees a new player — Stephen Colbert — enter in September.
"I think that would be the death of our show — if we turned it into a product or overthinking it. I think it's important to just kind of wing it." he says. "Listen to the radio and some of these songs that are all auto-tuned and written by 12 different people, that's the worst music there is. The best stuff is the stuff that somebody has a few drinks and writes and records in his garage. I think it's important to remember that because I think it applies to a lot of different areas of life, whether it's comedy or music or food or any number of things."
"Sometimes keeping it simple is the best plan," he says.
Jimmy Kimmel Live airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET
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