Former Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg on Hosting Audience-Less 'Kimmel' Amid COVID-19: 'The Thing Unfolded in a Strangely Slow-Motion Way'

In a new interview, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg spoke about his experience hosting Jimmy Kimmel Live!, as the coronavirus pandemic was just beginning to spread. Buttigieg described the experience as "unfold[ing] in a strangely slow-motion way."

Buttigieg hosted Jimmy Kimmel's late night show earlier in March, just as CDC guidelines advised against large gatherings. The former candidate hosted to a mostly empty audience, only consisting of a few staffers, friends, and Buttigieg's husband Chasten.

Buttigieg told New York Magazine that the changes were so sudden and happened throughout the day. "That morning, it was an issue of gathering concern. It was clear it was going to be disruptive. And by evening, we didn't have an audience. And by the next day, we were wondering whether that was the last show that would be taped for the foreseeable future. This thing has unfolded in a strangely slow-motion way." he told New York.

Despite the changes, Buttigieg said that he still felt like it was a good to help provide something to boost morale for people while they're stuck inside. "I think it was a good day for me to be doing something that was a little bit different, that still has to do with engaging and lifting people up," he said.

pete buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg poses backstage at the hit play "The Inhertance" on Broadway at The Barrymore Theatre on March 8, 2020 in New York City. Buttigieg discussed his appearance hosting 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' in a new interview. Bruce Glikas/WireImage/Getty

Buttigieg spoke about the importance of comedy to help people get through difficult times, and he said that he told Kimmel's staff how important their job was. "I actually think that this was a time when we need humor, we need culture, we need art more than ever," he said. "And it'll be really important to watch that develop, even if this is as disruptive to the arts world as it is to the political world in terms of forcing new ways of doing business."

During his monologue on the program, Buttigieg joked about the lack of audience. "This was not our plan. We just decided this a few hours ago, and it's disappointing, because as you all know, I love to crowd-surf," he quipped, before cutting to past news footage of a crowd cheering. "When you don't have a real audience, you have to fake one," he said. "Just like Trump's inauguration."

Buttigieg also called on viewers to call their representatives to pass the bill for free coronavirus testing, paid emergency leave, and unemployment insurance.

Meanwhile as he's self-isolating, Buttigieg has grown out a beard. In keeping the conversation light, the former candidate called the facial hair an "experiment," but also said in New York Magazine that if his husband Chasten gets sick of it, "it's not long for this world."

Former Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg on Hosting Audience-Less 'Kimmel' Amid COVID-19: 'The Thing Unfolded in a Strangely Slow-Motion Way' | Culture