Stephen Colbert has been in Los Angeles all week preparing to host Sunday’s Emmy Awards. So while he was there, he figured he might as well stop by his late-night rival Jimmy Kimmel’s show.
“How exciting for America to see two talk-show titans side by side?” Kimmel asked his guest.
“You rarely see two middle-aged men talking on television anymore,” Colbert replied. He commended Kimmel for his sit-down with Sean Spicer the night before. “That was a great interview,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to talk to that cat.”
Asked what the former Trump White House press secretary was like in person, Kimmel said, “He’s much smaller than I thought he was going to be.” Colbert said he knew Spicer was a small guy because he’s “met Melissa McCarthy.”
When Kimmel said part of him “felt sorry” for Spicer, Colbert replied, “Really? Because he wasn’t apologizing. He wants to be forgiven, but he won’t regret anything he did. You’ve got to regret to be forgiven.”
“What if he’s privately regretting it but too scared to publicly regret it because there’s a big orange bully that might hit him over the head?” Kimmel asked. To which Colbert replied, “Then we privately forgive him.”
Kimmel, who has hosted the Emmys and the Oscars, also had some advice for Colbert ahead of Sunday night’s award show. Because all the celebrities in the audience know they might later appear on the host’s talk show, he said, they will behave themselves to avoid getting “punished” down the road. “I like to rule with fear,” Kimmel said.
“You could be president of the United States,” Colbert told him.
Over the course of their interview, the Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Show hosts compared and contrasted their respective late-night experiences, with Kimmel taking particular interest in Colbert’s Ed Sullivan Theater, which for decades was the home base of his idol, David Letterman. He wanted to know what kind of advice Letterman gave Colbert when he retired.
“He was really nice,” Colbert said. Before Letterman had left the show, Colbert came to him and asked questions like, “Where do you hide from your producers?” Letterman also taught him how to operate the building’s old-timey elevator.
“Wow, it’s like Willy Wonka, it’s like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Kimmel marveled.