And things got weird.
The show started with a seemingly genuine (and at times uncomfortable) moment between two celebrities, and ended with an epic Kanye monologue that was truly riveting — it went on for so long that Kimmel had to bump his musical guest for the night.
In case you missed it, about 10 days ago, Kimmel aired a video parody of an interview West had given to the BBC, in which he talked about a wide range of topics, including his idea for leather jogging pants. Furious after seeing Kimmel’s mocking comedy bit, Kanye angrily took to Twitter for a rant directed at Kimmel (and launched the now-classic hashtag #NODISRESPECTTOBENAFFLECK.)
Things on Kimmel’s show started out frosty, as Kanye glared at Kimmel, who explained he only created the parody (which featured children reenacting the BBC interview) because it’s funny when little kids swear. Fair enough. Kimmel even admitted he hadn’t even seen Kanye’s whole interview when he came up with the bit.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” West glowered.
Eventually, West opened up, in a fascinating monologue. It appears he was especially hurt by Kimmel’s mocking because the two of them had previously briefly struck up a friendship. Kanye implied that he expected Kimmel to understand the kind of pressure he’s under as a famous person giving an interview, explaining that “people feel [it’s] okay to treat celebrities like zoo animals.”
Though really, maybe they were both to blame for the Twitter fight. “At a certain point, the egos can flare up,” Kanye acknowledged. “And you know, we kind of just took it back to high school for a little bit.”
“I got beat up a lot in high school — so I didn’t want to go back to high school,” joked Kimmel, trying to lighten the suddenly very serious mood of his comedy show.
But Kimmel got serious as well, and suddenly, it was like sitting in on a therapy session. As for the people who upset Kanye when they skewer him on the Internet and in tabloids, Kimmel said, “I think people look at you and go, this is a guy who has got millions of dollars, a beautiful wife, a new baby — we can’t possibly hurt this guy.”
Kimmel went on to say that although some people think Kanye’s a jerk, he knows for a fact that’s not the case. Though in the understatement of the century, Kimmel said, “A lot of times I think you bring it on yourself, this kind of misunderstanding about you.”
Countering, Kanye pointed out that he’s not a politician — and he doesn’t have to watch what he says.
“When I did that interview, I was really vocal about a lot of things I have been dealing with for the last 10 years, and I was put in the classification of ‘just a celebrity,'” Kanye said, and in the one of the many quotable moments of the night, added, “Because for me, I am a creative genius. And there’s no other way to word it.”
Plus, he feels the need to protect his family, ideas and dreams (things Kimmel joked about). “That’s why I went so crazy,” Kanye explained.
So they made up, and we can all move on, right? Not so quickly. After that was settled, with almost no prodding from Kimmel (who couldn’t get a word in the rest of the interview), Kanye went on a lengthy speech about a variety of subjects so wide it’s almost impossible to narrow them all down.
Included: A sobering monologue about class and race issues in society today; his love of fashion and quality fabrics; and at one point, a few unkind words about his girlfriend Kim Kardashian not being eligible for the Hollywood Walk of Fame because she’s just a reality star.
And, one excerpt when he landed on the topic of self-worth: “My mother made me believe in myself. No matter how many people tell me ‘Stop believing in yourself. Stop saying what you can do, stop affirming what you are going to do and then completing that in real life.’ That’s the improper way to do it. I refuse to follow those rules that society has set up in the way they they control people with low self-esteem, with improper information, with branding, with marketing. I refuse to follow those rules. It’s about truth. It’s about information. It’s about awesomeness. And the only luxury is time. The time you spend with your family, that’s the only luxury.”
As the analyses and gifs hit the Internet on Thursday, keep in mind: Kimmel has repeatedly said that none of this was cooked up as a publicity stunt.
“A lot of people on the Internet seem to think that this is a set-up or a prank, and we made the whole thing up to get publicity,” Kimmel said during his monologue. “But that is really not the case. I wish I thought of that.”
“Honestly,” he added, “I have been too busy masterminding the giant prank going on in Washington, D.C. right now. That one is going gangbusters.”