Jimmy Kimmel was already near tears before he said a word on Monday night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live—his first episode hosting the late-night show after it went on a mysterious weeklong hiatus. “I have a story to tell about something that happened to our family last week,” he said, assuring his viewers that despite his demeanor, his tale has a happy ending. Kimmel’s wife Molly McNearney, a co-head writer on the show, gave birth to their second child, a son named William, on April 21. Within hours of William’s birth, a nurse noticed symptoms of a congenital heart defect, and he was quickly given open-heart surgery to repair the damage.
William is fine, Kimmel assured his viewers—showing them pictures of his son hooked up to wires in the hospital and then convalescing at home—though he will require another procedure in a few months. But the story of his birth, and the rapid intervention of the medical professionals around him, was a gripping one, the center of a surprising 13-minute opening monologue from Kimmel, who rarely delves into his life for show material.
The story was also notable for Kimmel’s generosity of spirit, and his insistence on personally thanking everyone involved with William’s delivery. From the nurses who detected William’s heart murmur, to the cardiovascular surgeon who drove to the hospital straight from the airport (where he was picking up his mother), to his assembled family members, to the companies that donate to Los Angeles’ Children’s Hospital—Kimmel wanted everyone to get the kudos they deserved on live television. “Even that son of a bitch Matt Damon sent flowers,” he joked, referencing his long-running comedic “feud” with the actor, whom he had playfully ribbed throughout the Oscar ceremony Kimmel hosted in February.