Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Jimmy Kimmel returns, hires employees of a government that still has not

John Kostelnik, Jimmy Kimmel
Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Late-night hosts and their staffs took the holidays off, presumably to sit in darkened rooms with no internet, drink heavily, and gradually decompress from the stresses of processing the unending Trump administration horror-news cycle. At least they’ve all got that sweet TV money coming in, unlike the federal workers—some 800,000 or so—forced to go without paychecks because Donald Trump has shutdown the government in a kicking tantrum because nobody will let him waste untold billions on his farcically racist Game Of Thrones wall. (Thank goodness families don’t need money around the holidays or anything.)

As Jimmy Kimmel put it on his Monday return, the day was the 17th of the government shutdown, which is the third-longest in U.S. history, and “the first for no reason.” Mocking Trump’s attempt at spinning the shutdown as a “strike” (“the first ever involuntary strike in the history of American labor”), Kimmel mock-praised Trump for doing what he does best, “not paying the people who work for him.” But, as Kimmel put it, he himself is a problem-solver, so, with ABC’s deep pockets backing his play, Kimmel announced his plan to put America back to work, one unwillingly furloughed federal worker at a time.


Introducing one John Kostelnik as his first hire, Kimmel asked the federal prison guard and union president how he and his colleagues feel about being “used as a pawn in this fight over a wall.” (Kostelnik is not a fan.) And, after gaining assurances that Kostelnik’s fellow guards are, in fact, still working for free guarding the Federal Correctional Complex in Victorville, California (with no assurances of back pay should the government ever reopen), Kimmel asked his new employee if he had any late-night, entertainment-related skills. Kostelnik didn’t, but no matter—Kimmel told the new guy to grab a tambourine, since he was now the newest member of Ceto and the Cletones, Kimmel’s house band. No word yet on whether Kostelnik will have to join the musicians’ union as well, or what his pay scale is on the show compared to the prison, but Kimmel promised his audience that his plan is to pack his staff with one non-consensually out-of-work federal worker every night until Donald Trump ultimately stops holding hundreds of thousands of American families hostage to his own white supremacist pique.

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.