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Subbing for Jimmy Kimmel, Melissa McCarthy surprises pal Octavia Spencer with their weird shared past

Octavia Spencer, Melissa McCarthy (Screenshot: ABC)

It’s been a week of guest hosts on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, as Kimmel himself has been home with his family in the wake of young son Billy’s scheduled heart operation. Thankfully, as Thursday’s host, the always-game Melissa McCarthy informed the audience (while sporting a goofy Christmas tree dress, complete with angel topper hat) that Billy’s recovery “is going great.” McCarthy, as she always does, went big all night in the host’s chair, whether mocking science deniers (and beating up Jennifer Aniston) in a fake ad for gravity skeptics, yelling at Kimmel’s sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez for not dressing up in silly costumes with her as had been supposedly decided, or dutifully greeting her three guests in a succession of said costumes.

McCarthy danced to musical guests Hanson’s performance of their new Christmas song in one of those rod-puppet, one-person costumes (she was the three wise men), thanked Dave Franco for coming out as a reindeer to talk to her gingerbread lady about The Disaster Artist, and did the second part of her monologue as a very large and tippy-looking menorah. (She also kicked off the show in an Elmo costume, begging for change outside the studio along with her Thor-dressed husband, Ben Falcone.)

But it was with her first guest, The Shape Of Water’s Octavia Spencer, that McCarthy (happily looming over Spencer in a mammoth candy cane outfit) doled out the most holiday cheer. Revealing that she and Spencer have been pals for almost 20 years—Spencer hugged McCarthy’s parents, who were relaxing onstage in recliners throughout the show—McCarthy broke out the only clip of the pair ever working together. Well, sort-of together, as the clip was of Spencer and McCarthy separately asking questions as part of a bit on “Weird Al” Yankovic’s short-lived 1997 comedy series. Naturally, we here at The A.V. Club had the scoop on this one long ago, but it’s still sort of heartwarming watching it, knowing that the two fresh-faced, struggling actors and best friends doing odd little bits of “woman on the street” work for Weird Al would one day be two of the most successful women in Hollywood, Oscar appearances, candy cane costumes and all.


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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.