Jimmy Kimmel may have picked the wrong week to move his late-night talk show from sunny Los Angeles to stormy New York City, but his Tuesday-night taping at the Brooklyn Academy of Music was a distinctly local affair—or at least tried hard to be.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! packed up and headed east last week, when the Frankenstorm reports were just beginning, as part of a week of shows billed as Kimmel’s homecoming to his native Brooklyn.
The show got a Kings County–appropriate makeover: the Ms in Jimmy Kimmel were turned into the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge, his desk was transformed into a subway stop, and the house band played jazzed-up renditions of the Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach” and Notorious B.I.G.’s Brooklyn anthem “Juicy.”
Hurricane Sandy dominated the show, which had been canceled the previous night due to extreme weather, from start to finish. Kimmel’s producers thanked the live audience at BAM’s Harvey Theater profusely for attending despite the crippled city outside—subways and some tunnels remained closed Tuesday night, and power was out in all of downtown Manhattan. “We know what happened in the last 24 hours,” a producer told the sold-out crowd. “It was ridiculous.”
“I was born in Bay Ridge, grew up in Mill Basin, and I’ve come back to save my people from the storm,” Kimmel told the crowd, to thunderous applause. “More than 8 million people lost power last night,” he said, “which means that no one is watching this right now.”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg got a shout-out from Kimmel during his monologue—and a riotous round of applause from the audience. “It’s hard to be boring in the middle of a disaster,” Kimmel said of Bloomberg, “but he managed to do it.”
Kimmel’s guests, Howard Stern and Tracy Morgan, eagerly shared their Sandy stories. Morgan reassured the crowd that his exotic fish were safe after his private generator switched on when the power went out. “This never happens in New York,” Morgan yelled to the crowd. “This storm has ‘Republicans’ written all over it!”
Stern told the audience he was “begging Jimmy to cancel the show tonight. I was trying to get here and all the stoplights were broken!”
In between Sandy references and jokes, Kimmel snuck in as much Brooklyn talk as he could. He screened a video of himself visiting his old home in Bay Ridge and poked fun at the “artisanal cheese shops” that have sprung up around the borough.
“This never happens in New York,” Tracy Morgan yelled to the crowd. “This storm has ‘Republicans’ written all over it!”
Brooklyn was invoked every few minutes to get the audience to clap louder or smile wider—“let’s show them what Brooklyn can do!”—for the cameras. “We’re used to the laid-back audiences in L.A.,” said Kimmel’s warm-up man, Don Barris, to boos from the audience. “This is the best audience we’ve ever had!”
Locals in the audience were thrilled to have a diversion from the weather, if only for an hour. “We raced like maniacs to get here and we made it,” said Dan Pearlman, who lives on Long Island and drove to Brooklyn for the taping. “I think it’s amazing that the show went on, and it’s in the town he grew up in and he’s back.”
The show wrapped up with two songs from local favorites Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. As Jones took the stage, wearing a glittering flapper dress, she shouted, “Sandy ain’t got nothing on Brooklyn!”