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Forging Her Own Path

Rather than rely on her famous brother, Jill Kimmel is charting her own course and making a name for herself in stand-up comedy.

by Chuck king
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JUPITER – Jill Kimmel didn’t choose the easy path to fame.

Upon deciding to try stand-up comedy, she could have turned to her famous brother, late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! host Jimmy Kimmel, to help promote her career. Instead, she didn’t even tell him her plans.

In 2006 Kimmel performed at her first open mic. The crowd, she said, embraced her comedy. Still, she didn’t tell Jimmy.

What she didn’t know is that her mother got a hold of video from that performance and shared it with Jimmy.

“He was on his laptop across the table from me and he perks up and he goes, ‘By the way, I saw your set. It was really good. You should stick with it,’” Jill recalled.

Then Jimmy, three years Jill’s elder, turned to Jill’s husband.

“He looked at my husband and he said, ‘You know she’s going to have to do this a couple times a week to get really good, right?,” Jill said. “And my husband was like, ‘Yeah.’”

Jill wasn’t new to the entertainment industry. She’d pursued an acting career in Arizona while also raising a family.

And while she didn’t give up on acting, for the next 10 years Jill performed stand-up comedy under her married last name, Bryan. And spending several nights every week working on her craft proved good for her career – but bad for her marriage.

“Well, as it turns out he was not OK with that, hence the ‘ex’ part,” Jill said.

Like she’s done with many important life moments over her now 15 years as a stand-up comic, Kimmel worked her divorce into her set. She’ll also talk about her children, dating and travel issues and other everyday issues that strike her as funny.

Her sets don’t lack for energy, and her comfortable delivery of real-life occurrences prove infinitely relatable – and quite humorous – to women who attend her shows.

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What’s a little surprising is how many men in the audience she gets to laugh along with her, which happened frequently during Sunday’s show at the Performing Arts Academy in Jupiter.

“It works because guys know what women go through – or some guys do,” show producer Joe Sallabi said.

That Jupiter show marked the end of a mini-tour of Florida for Kimmel and fellow comic Cristy Barnett, who resides in the Cocoa Beach area.

“We have so much fun together,” Barnett said. “We’re a lot alike so a lot of our material is based on our lives.”

Kimmel now lives in Los Angeles, moving from Arizona to be closer to her family and children, both of whom are attending California colleges.

She’s closer in proximity to her more famous brother, but as of yet there aren’t any plans to work together.

The Kimmel combo did share a stage a few years ago. When Jimmy opened Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club in Las Vegas he asked Jill to serve as host and emcee during the first weekend.

“He introduced me, and that was really fun, special and all that stuff,” Jill said.

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