Toronto Mayor Rob Ford made headlines when he arrived in Los Angeles this weekend. Why was he there? Was he completing a cross-country tour after his appearance in New Orleans during the Mardi Gras parade? No—there was another reason. When asked, Ford said he travelled to L.A. “to promote and sell Toronto.” If publicizing the city was his aim, and we must assume it was, since he is an honest man, he picked the right venue and the right stage.
On March 3, Ford was Jimmy Kimmel’s guest of honour. When he finally arrived on stage (after a painful half hour of filler and Kimmel’s one-liners), it was obvious the audience was ready for him. Ford began by tossing what appeared to be “Ford Nation” t-shirts into the crowd. Big mistake. Ford said he would sell Toronto, but he was already giving it away for free! Thankfully, Ford is among the world’s best at making up for a lapse in judgment. As always, he delivered.
Jimmy Kimmel asked the Mayor a variety of questions about his life, but Ford refused to sway from his sales pitch. He wasn’t on a late night comedy show to laugh and chit-chat. He was there to promote and sell Toronto. He mentioned he had saved the city over $1 billion, and that he was working for the taxpayer. Kimmel was annoyingly determined to make small talk, so he told Ford that he first became aware of his existence when he saw the video of the Mayor walking head-first into a camera. This anecdote was enough to pull the Mayor off message- but only for a second. With the wisdom of a big city man speaking to a small town child, Ford told Kimmel, “You don’t know our media up there.” This was a good point. The quaint and innocent people of Los Angeles live in a different world from the hardened, cynical people of Toronto. They worry about paparazzi driving dangerously, while Torontonians worry about Rob Ford driving dangerously. No comparison is possible.
As the evening wore on, it seemed Kimmel was making every effort to pull Ford off his script. He mocked Rob for eating the desserts he left him in the dressing room, made a point of wiping dripping sweat off the Mayor’s forehead, and even asked Ford how much he exercises. Rob was in no mood to be a part of Kimmel’s routine, though. He mentioned time and time again he had saved Toronto money, and that he is just a regular, hard-working politician doing his best to protect Toronto taxpayers.
Didn’t Kimmel know this was Ford’s promotion platform for Toronto? The show wasn’t supposed to be about Rob Ford, it was supposed to be about Rob Ford. That is why it was repetitive and boring when Kimmel asked Ford to explain his behaviour in several videos in which he is intoxicated, rambling, or falling down. Viewers already know Ford is your average crack-smoking citizen, so they don’t need further video proof of his normality.
Despite the obvious overkill, Kimmel continued to put Ford through his usual routine. As always, Ford was prompted to complain about being followed by police everywhere he goes. Upholding a Jimmy Kimmel Live tradition, he listened to Kimmel read aloud a barrage of twitter criticism about his alleged homophobia, domestic abuse, drunk driving, and racism. Finally, like every other guest on the show, he had to suffer through an intervention, in which Kimmel encouraged him to seek professional help to deal with his problems. “Your family clearly loves you”…”You’re only 40 and you are so intoxicated that you smoke crack and don’t remember […] There is no shame in seeking help.” For Christ’s sake, Jimmy, these are personal growing pains! Give him another term and he’ll be just fine.
By the end of the show, even Stevie Wonder could see that Ford had triumphed and Kimmel had faltered. Kimmel had tried his best to throw Ford a curveball, but the coordinated slugger had batted it out of the park. Rob Ford said he would promote and sell Toronto, and that is exactly what he did. Angry Torontonians may argue he spent more time promoting himself than promoting the city, but those people miss the point. Like it or not, Ford is Toronto. He is the city’s face and voice, so in tooting his own horn he toots for each and every person in his city. If you think that stinks, you’re the problem. Take your holier-than-thou attitude to some darling little city like Los Angeles and eek out a living making fun of regular people. Just don’t forget to come back to Toronto and vote for Rob Ford in October, 2014. #Fordmoreyears