I love telling jokes because laughter is healing. It's the type of medicine you can't manufacture and it also, generates joy from within. If a person can bottle up laughter and sell it, they would be the wealthiest person in the universe. And anybody that can make you laugh brings the gift of happiness.
But when does telling a joke goes too far? Where it becomes harmful and offensive, at that point it's not a joke anymore and turns to somebody being sarcastic. Well, this is the case with Jimmy Kimmel, who routinely starts off his show "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" with a series of jokes to get the right energy flowing and stimulate a feel good mood in the audience. But this past Sunday (Sept. 18th) not everybody was laughing, Kimmel told a joke which made some of his audiences and viewers feel some type of way.
Let's get to it.
Courtney B. Vance won the Emmy this past Sunday night for outstanding lead actor for his role as O.J. Simpson's defense attorney, in the biographical television series, "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" on FX. Despite his honor, recognition and salutations, Jimmy Kimmel was not impressed. And expressed it in a joke later on during a live taping of his show. Kimmel took a direct shot at the late Johnnie Cochran, who passed away in 2005 below, with his joke and eyebrows were raised after that.
"He played Johnnie Cochran in the series," Jimmy Kimmel begin his joke
"I have to believe Johnnie Cochran is smiling up at us tonight."
Notice Kimmel didn't say smiling down, he said "smiling up," basically implying Cochran was in hell and indirectly calling him a devil for representing O.J Simpson during his trial.
Jimmy Kimmel might of been laughing at the time he told his joke but many found it offensive and the next day was not a laughing matter, as things got serious.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, who is a Civil Rights leader and the president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, issued a statement below and demanded an apology from Jimmy Kimmel and his whole show.
"Kimmel, shamelessly and disgracefully used his popular TV show host platform to slander famed late civil rights attorney Johnnie Cochran, " Hutchinson asserted in his statement.
And continued his statement standing up for Johnnie Cochran, who is not here to defend himself.
"Cochran’s sin to Kimmel was that he was part of the Simpson’s defense team, a cherished constitutional right of all criminal defendants."
Earl O. Hutchinson concluded his statement, conveying the offensive manner of Jimmy Kimmel's joke, his lack of professionalism towards a man who fought for people's civil rights, how Kimmel insulted Johnnie Cochran's legacy; and asserted an apology was deemed necessary.
"Kimmel disgraced himself and insulted those who regard Cochran as a champion of civil rights and constitutional protections with this slur. We call for a prompt apology to Cochran’s family and the public."
Hutchinson was backed by other organizations of Civil Rights leaders that contested to the statement such as: Lita Herron, President Youth Advocacy Coalition, Dwayne Wyatt, L.A Black Employees for Fairness, Pedro Baez, Founder Voice of the People and more.
It didn't stop there.
Johnnie Cochran's former associate, Carl Douglas was not laughing either at Jimmy Kimmel's joke and took to his Twitter account to express his disappointment. In a series of tweets, Carl Douglas felt it was right to honor the memory of Johnnie Cochran and how he was a mentor and hero to him. Douglas spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the situation and expressed that Kimmel cross the line with his joke.
In his interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Douglas vented his frustration and why he took offense to the joke.
"I understand it was a joke, I get it. But I have a right to be offended, particularly because Johnnie has done so much in his life separate from representing a former Heisman Trophy winner accused of a gruesome double murder."
And spoke about the insensitive manner of Jimmy Kimmel's joke.
"And for anyone to suggest that, on a moral level, that act, as a lawyer, could cause him to spend his afterlife in hell, offended me. And I am sure offended other fair-minded people across the country."
Carl Douglas took a stance and duty in standing up for his former mentor, Johnnie Cochran and defended his honor.
"It was visceral for me, so I had to use any platform I had available to express my outrage just so the record would be clear that not everyone agreed with the heinousness of that joke."
Douglas communicated, the success and accomplishments Cochran fulfilled while he was here on earth, would not entrap his soul in a hellish form, but elevate him in a heavenly manner.
"I am sure they are also offended by the very suggestion that this man who accomplished so much in his life could be anywhere other than smiling down on all of us, as opposed to the other way around."
Carl Douglas also, spoke about Courtney B. Vance's Emmy award and felt is was well earned. And was amazed by his performance of Cochran.
"I thought Courtney did a marvelous job reflecting Johnnie's spirit and his essence."
Carl Douglas finalized his interview with The Hollywood Reporter, reflecting on Courtney B. Vance's performance of Johnnie Cochran in the FX television series and the magnitude of it bringing Cochran's essence to life.
"I would close my eyes and hear the reflection of Johnnie Cochran coming through the television screen. It was eerie. His winning the Emmy award was much deserved."
So far, Jimmy Kimmel has not issued an apology nor released a statement about the controversy surrounding his Johnnie Cochran joke.
Do you think Jimmy Kimmel's Johnnie Cochran joke was just that, a joke and nothing more? Or, was there some underlying issue in it and more like, Jimmy Kimmel feeling some type of way towards the late Johnnie Cochran.
Things that make you go hmmm.
Getty Images Photograph of Johnnie Cochran and O.J Simpson by: Pool