Take that, Jimmy Kimmel.
The city of Wichita has produced an official response to a recent skit on Kimmel’s late-night TV show that spoofs the city as a “Wichitawesome” place for spring break.
The video itself isn’t so official, though. Instead, it takes off on a spring break theme, in which a cardboard cutout Jimmy Kimmel gets drunk off a beer bong at an Old Town bar, vomits by the Arkansas River and gets some handsy treatment from a TSA agent at the airport.
“It went right there to the edge, but it does have natural attention, and individuals are looking at it,” Mayor Carl Brewer said.
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He said staff in the city manager’s office, including spokeswoman Lauragail Locke, produced the video. Brewer first saw it Tuesday. By Wednesday morning, it had 3,000 hits.
Brewer said if he and City Council members had produced the video, “we’d probably have been a lot more conservative than that, but then if we had done it, we’d have a lot less than 3,000 hits.”
Locke said she hears the video went over well at “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
“So I think we were on the mark,” she said. “Our goal was to produce a video that would appeal to his late-night talk show television audience in the hopes of getting on national TV. We just want to draw more attention to our city and show that we are a fun place, and we have a lot to offer.” Locke said the main point was to invite Kimmel here.
She added, referring to the city’s cable network, “It was definitely not meant for a City7 audience.”
Locke said she’s not sure how much the video cost, but she said money spent was mainly for the cutout that a company produced and a sound effect that was used in the video. It was shot with city staff and equipment.
The mayor’s response was to call Kimmel field producer Sarah Robe, a native Wichitan, and invite the talk show host to town. That’s when he said he heard that “many of the staff there thought Wichita was a fictitious city.”
“She had to educate them and tell them no – whoever did it did their homework – and it was a real city.”
Robe said that staffers do in fact know of Wichita, but they didn’t realize that places in the video, such as Scotch & Sirloin, are real.
“That’s why it’s funny, too, and why it resonates because it’s a town that everyone’s heard of,” she said.
Writer Jonathan Bines is responsible for the original Wichitawesome video spoofing the city as a great spring break destination.
“Whenever a comedy writer thinks about the top anything, they immediately try to think of what the bottom might be,” he said. “It’s nothing against Wichita.”
Bines likes the city’s response video.
“I thought that it was, in fact, 100 percent Wichitawesome,” he said. “It was a big relief for me because I was worried it was going to be Wichitawful.”
That doesn’t mean it’s going to make the show.
“If it does wind up on the show, you should be ready for some sardonic commentary about it.”
Even though it turns out that Kimmel staffers had heard of Wichita, Brewer didn’t have a clue about Kimmel.
“In fact, I just recently figured out who he was to see what the show was all about.”
He doesn’t find it or the Wichitawesome video very funny.
“I’m not a ‘Rowan Martin Laugh-In’ type guy. I don’t even particularly care when people are telling jokes.”
He thinks the city’s video has its moments, though.
“Sometimes you have to let your hair down, stop, relax and laugh at yourself and go on,” Brewer said.
Still, there are some rather surprising moments, such as a cutout Kimmel getting a rather intimate TSA pat-down at the airport.
“That wasn’t anything more than what you get from coming through security here or going through TSA,” Brewer said.
It was someone dressed like a TSA worker, though, not an actual employee.
“They refused to do it,” Brewer said. “Those guys don’t have a sense of humor.”
In a tweet that included a link to the video Wednesday afternoon, he thanked Wichita.