How Tech Savvy Does One Have to be to Host a Late Night Program?

With Jimmy Fallon now at the reigns of The Tonight Show, last night’s premiere of Seth Meyers on Late Night, and the rise of alternate means of entertaining (read: viral videos, #hastags, email segments,) one must ask, what does it take to host a late night show in 2014? What about the veterans? Are you doomed to fail if you don’t have a laptop and a secretly staged viral video that gets six million views by daybreak? Let’s explore.

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I am of the belief that no matter what your business, if you don’t have a wide net, gathering as many people as possible for whatever your product is, you’re doing something wrong. At this day in age, I also feel pretty strongly that means you need to have some kind of interactive relationship with your audience. That can mean an active social media presence (think Twitter follows and YouTube subscribers,) or share-worthy posts, videos, and articles. I started thinking about how this plays into the Late Night game after reading this article, reviewing Seth Meyer’s first Late Show appearance (which I have yet to watch.)

‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’ Review: ‘SNL’ Brand Extension, or Analog Holdout in a Digital Era? (Entertainment Weekly) – This got me thinking about how important it really is to connect with your audience on that extra level. According to this review, Seth Meyers seems set up to do it old school- with ?!printed?! pictures as skit props, telling one-sided stories and jokes, and (gasp) not having a laptop on his desk, ready to go.

Is this really a sign of late night doom? I mean, my old favorite David Letterman is still going strong, with plans to keep on at least until 2015. He was my first late night loyalty- the first I ever watched regularly, and rightly so. He’s smart, talented, and often cuttingly hilarious. Still, the last few times I’ve watched, I find myself disappointed, and feeling that he’s a little out of touch with what is funny. Example: the whole “random person wandering onto set during monologue” thing was something bizarre that he started a few years ago. I didn’t get it then, and I don’t get it now. It seems Dave is a little worried, too, about Jimmy’s early Tonight Show success.

David Letterman Wants to Steal Jimmy’s Thunder with Jay (NY Daily News) – Who knows if this is real, because as of their last meeting (remember that Super Bowl ad?) they were politely tolerant, but not friendly with each other. So, I highly doubt this is real.

Late Night Ratings Watch (Mediaite) – How about this week’s ratings? Obviously, Fallon has the upper hand, being new and exciting, but it’s still hard to ignore the major difference in viewers in the 11:30 time slot.

It will be interesting to see how things play out over the next months and years ahead. What’s to become of the Johnny Carson-style late night format, basically being held up by Letterman and Ferguson alone? Will Seth push himself beyond his own SNL writer comfort zone? What do you think? Should every late night host play beer pong with their guests and/or f*ck Matt Damon?

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