Shopping with TV’s
BY STEVE FISHER
IN SEPTEMBER 2007, Jimmy Kimmel, star of ABC’s late-night talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, announced that one of his great wishes was to be on the cover of The Costco Connection. It’s taken a while, but Jimmy, this is your wish come true. And it’s only fitting, since Kimmel has made himself Costco’s unofficial (unpaid) spokesman, often tout- ing the joys of Costco membership on his show. The Connection accompanied Kimmel on one of his sprees at a Costco near his Hollywood, California, studio. Jimmy can’t help being funny—he just is—so imagine this as though it were on TV. At the studio we head for Kimmel’s car for the trip to Costco. The idea of Kimmel driving has me concerned, as I’ve read he has narcolepsy, a sleep dis- order that can cause frequent daytime sleep attacks. “It’s medicated and under control,” Kimmel aughs. “There are varying degrees of narcolepsy. Some people fall asleep in the middle of sentences, and other people just have a hard time staying awake during meetings, such as me.” He quickly adds, “And sometimes when I’m driving. But when I’m driving with someone else, as long as I’m talking, you’re OK. Wear your seat belt.” I check my belt, and after a short drive, we pull into the Costco parking lot. “I work 70 hours a week,” Kimmel says. “I don’t miss work. I take my job very seriously. It’s impor- tant to me that the people who work for me and with me have jobs, and that helps drive me.” He adds, “Going to Costco soothes me. I don’t know why, but it does.” And, as a Costco fanatic, he is eager to share his method.
STEP 1: “Do your part,
bring a cart.”
Kimmel selects a stranded cart from the parking
lot and pushes it toward the entrance. I mention that
Costco personnel round up abandoned carts, but he
shakes his head, saying they have better things to do
and pointing out that his parents raised him to clean
up after himself—even if he didn’t make the mess.
James Christian Kimmel was born 42 years ago
in Brooklyn, New York, to, he emphasizes, “a normal, loving, supportive family.” The family moved to
Las Vegas when Jimmy was 9.
Family is of the utmost importance to Kimmel.
Divorced, but still friendly with his ex-wife, he is
devoted to his teenage daughter and son, although
he claims his celebrity doesn’t faze them.
“It does not cause a blip in their lives,” he laments.
“They couldn’t care less. I would like them to be a
little more interested, to be honest with you.”
Other family members are more involved in
“I have nine family members working on the
show,” he says. “People know my Uncle Frank, my
cousin Sal and my Aunt Chippy because they’re on
the air, but my cousin Mickey works in the talent
department and my brother’s a writer and my
nephew works in the audience department and my
sister-in-law’s sister works in the art department.”
“Did they earn it or is it just nepotism?” I ask.
Kimmel: [Seriously] “In some cases I didn’t even
know they were working on the show. [Laughing] It’s
STEP 2: “On the way in,
grab two boxes.”
“Boxes should be sturdy and have four
sides so items don’t fall out,” Kimmel
explains. “One box is for refrigerated
items; the second is for ‘dry’ goods. It
makes carrying the stuff to the refrigerator
or freezer a lot easier.”
People start to recognize him, especially
Costco employees. He’s greeted with a friendly “Hi,
Jimmy.” It is obvious they’ve seen him here before.
There’s something about Kimmel that evokes
familiarity, on television and in person.
He uses a lot of self-deprecating humor. “I just
feel like I’m being honest,” he explains. “I don’t have
a low self-image. I’m just realistic. There are things
I’m good at, things I’m not so good at.”
I have to ask, “What are you not so good at?”
At first, he’s stumped for an answer, and then it
hits him. “There’s no one worse at wrapping presents,” he says. “It’s a skill I do not have and cannot
master. My kids laugh, because presents always look
like they’ve been in my trunk for a month. I think it’s
a division of the sexes. Women don’t do a ton of
grilling and men can’t wrap gifts.”