jimmy kimmel and don rickles

Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

Late-night’s tributes to Don Rickles hit a high point with Jimmy Kimmel

‘There’ll never be another Don Rickles.’


Michelle Jaworski


The hosts of late-night paid tribute to legendary comedian Don Rickles for his warmth and his insults.

Some of them, such as Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert, may not have spent much time with Rickles or knew him particularly well, but they each cherished the moments they shared with him. Meyers met Rickles at a party a few years ago after he worked up the courage to talk to him, and he still remembered it to this day. After Meyers told him that Saturday Night Live wasn’t canceled, Rickles expressed his disappointment and replied, “Ugh, a guy can dream.”

“I remembered thinking, ‘There’s nothing better than getting burned by Don Rickles,’” Meyers mused. “So I was always very thankful for that and I was very thankful that we got to enjoy his comedy for all these many years.”


Colbert, meanwhile, had the honor of losing to Rickles at the Emmys for Outstanding Performance in a Variety Series in 2008, and he noted that the better person won. He was backstage to congratulate Rickles for his win after winning an Emmy of his own when they shared a moment Colbert still cherished.

“He hugged me and told me I was good,” Colbert said. “And I felt like a made man because we all should have his career and be who he was.”

Jimmy Kimmel was in tears as he honored Rickles, who frequented Jimmy Kimmel Live17 times over the years—and became a dear friend. Although Rickles lived a long life, Kimmel said that he died too young because he was “youthful and funny and sharp and generous.”

Calling him the greatest talk show guest of all time, Kimmel told the story about how he finally got Rickles on his show after trying for years and described it as a “talk show fantasy camp” where he got to play host while Rickles insulted him. They ate dinner together, Rickles gave him advice, and Kimmel saved every note Rickles sent him—many of them as warm and insulting as his act.

“They called him Mr. Warmth as a joke, but that was what he was,” Kimmel said, choking up. “He would always ask about my parents, my kids. When my Uncle Frank passed away, I called him and asked him to be the guest on that show, which was a tough show and he helped all of us through it. He gave me advice—and good advice, not the advice people give you just to hear themselves giving you advice. He would always say ‘keep my name alive.” He’d tell me to keep his name alive, which I thought was funny because, you know, ‘You’re Don Rickles. You keep my name alive!’”

Kimmel also included a montage of Rickles’ appearances. Some of the clips haven’t been seen in years, but the animated and energetic Rickles will forever be a delight.

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