Jimmy Kimmel’s voice began to break the second he started speaking as he opened his October 2 show. “Here we are again,” he said, barely choking out the words, “in the aftermath of another terrible, inexplicable, shocking, and painful tragedy."
The late-night host’s subsequent, achingly sincere monologue took a clear toll on him — a now-familiar sight, due to his recent focus on highlighting the injustices of Republicans’ recent health care reform efforts. But it also quickly became clear that Kimmel does not think the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, which happens to be where he grew up, is completely “inexplicable.”
“It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to throw up, or give up,” he acknowledged, as his studio audience remained eerily silent. But Kimmel, despite visibly struggling to get through these 10 minutes without openly sobbing, didn’t give up on saying what he felt he needed to say.
“I’ve been reading comments from people saying, ‘This is terrible, but there’s nothing we can do about it.’ But I disagree with that intensely, because of course there’s something we could do about it. There’s a lot of things we could do about it, but we don’t,” Kimmel said. “Which is interesting, because whenever anyone with a beard attacks us, we tap phones, we invoke travel bans, we build walls, we take every possible precaution to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But when an American has a gun and kills other Americans, then ‘there’s nothing we can do about that.’”
From there, Kimmel pivoted, directing his pain toward both members of Congress and President Donald Trump — the people, in other words, who could do something about enacting stricter gun laws if they were only politically motivated to do so. Kimmel even called out many of them by name:
[Trump] spoke this morning; he said he was praying for those who lost their lives. You know, in February, he also signed a bill that made it easier for people with severe mental illness to buy guns legally. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, a number of other lawmakers who won’t do anything about this because the NRA has their balls in a money clip also sent their thoughts and their prayers today — which is good. They should be praying. They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country.
But if none of these individuals take any action, Kimmel concluded, “your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient.”
“The NRA has their balls in a money clip” was the closest Kimmel would get to telling a joke throughout his entire 10-minute monologue. Otherwise, he saved his energy for commiserating with his shell-shocked audience, reminding everyone that Vegas is home to both a strip of casinos and real people whose lives are now changed forever, and making sure that everyone saw the faces of those in Congress who continually vote in the National Rifle Association’s best interest.
“I want this to be a comedy show. I hate talking about stuff like this,” Kimmel later said, his eyes glistening. “I just want to laugh about things every night. But it seems to be becoming increasingly difficult lately. It sort of feels like someone's opened a window into hell.”
And it seems that as long as Kimmel has his platform, he has no plans to shy away from expressing his raw despair when he feels it, because “there is more we could do — and we need to do it.”