When comedian John Mulaney co-guest-hosted Jimmy Kimmel Live! just last week, he joked that unlike the titular host he wasn’t going to “ruin the show by suddenly crying in the monologue.”
It’s true that Jimmy Kimmel has developed a reputation for getting emotional during what is ostensibly supposed to be a comedy show. But it’s always been for good reason, whether it was after his infant son almost died or following horrific mass shootings in his hometown of Las Vegas and a high school in Parkland, Florida.
And as he said to an empty theater before his show began on Wednesday night, “Here we are again on another day of mourning in this country.”
The tears came almost immediately as Kimmel spoke of “the little boys and girls whose lives have been ended and whose families have been destroyed” after a teenage gunman shot up an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
As Kimmel put it, “our leaders on the right, the ‘Americans’ in Congress and at Fox News and these other outlets warn us not to politicize this” because “they don’t want to speak about it—because they know what they ‘ve done. And they know what they haven’t done and they know that it’s indefensible. So they’d rather sweep this under the rug.”
The host spoke out in favor of “common-sense gun laws” that have failed to pass through Congress again and again. “But it doesn’t have to be that way, not for this,” he said.
He specifically addressed Republican leaders in Texas like Greg Abbott, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn who have pointed to everything but stricter regulations on firearms as a way to stop it.
“They don’t want to speak about it—because they know what they’ve done. And they know what they haven’t done and they know that it’s indefensible. So they’d rather sweep this under the rug.”
“If your solution to children being massacred is armed guards, you haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on,” Kimmel said. “There was an armed guard in Buffalo. There was an armed guard in Parkland. There was an armed guard in Uvalde. They had armed guards. There were police officers armed on the scene and these murders still happen.”
Addressing his longtime political nemesis directly, he said, “I don’t believe Ted Cruz doesn’t care about children. I refuse to believe he is unaffected by this. He’s a father. I bet he went to bed sick to his stomach last night. It’s easy to call someone a monster. But he’s not a monster, he is a human being. And some people might not like hearing me say that, but it’s true.”
“So here’s the thing I would like to say to Ted Cruz, the human being, and Governor Abbott, and everyone,” he continued. “It’s OK to admit you made a mistake. In fact, it’s not just OK, it’s necessary to admit you made a mistake when your mistake is killing the children in your state.
“It takes a big person to do something like that,” Kimmel added. “It takes a brave person to do something like that. And do I think these men are brave people? Non. But man, I would love it if they surprised me.”
Kimmel grew even more visibly emotional as he pointed out that there have now been 27 school shootings so far this year in this country. “How does this make sense to anyone?” he asked. “These are our children. And our representatives are supposed to represent us.”
And he didn’t just point the finger at Republicans. “This is not ‘their’ fault anymore,” he said. “This is now our fault. Because we get angry, we demand action, we don’t get it, they wait it out and we go back to the lives that we should rightfully be able to go back to.”
“But you know who doesn’t forget it?” he asked. “The parents of the children at Sandy Hook and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and now Robb Elementary School. They won’t forget it.”
But if he was hoping his message would reach Texan leaders, it wasn’t going to be easy. After the show aired, Kimmel tweeted that the ABC affiliate in Dallas had cut away from his monologue. Whether the decision to censor his speech was intentional or inadvertent, he vowed, “I will find out.”