Masters of Late Night, Masters of Viral Content



Late night talk shows have been around nearly as long as television. The old masters, Arsenio Hall, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and of course Johnny Carson needed certain skills: they needed to be good interviewers, they needed to be quick with a one-liner, and they had to be likable enough to appeal to mainstream Americans. Modern late night talk show hosts like Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Conan O’Brien still need all of these skills but they also need to be masters of viral content. That is, they need to create show segments that are funny and shareable online.


Let’s look at some of the most successful videos from three late night hosts:


Jimmy Fallon: Lip Sync Battle With Emma Stone


With nearly 30,000,000 views on YouTube, this video is a great example of what makes Jimmy Fallon a successful creator of viral content. Fallon is funny, sure, but he’s also friendly, and approachable. He’s the kind of comedian you’d take home to meet your parents, or maybe just the kind of comedian’s whose videos you’d share with your parents.


Jimmy Kimmel: I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Hallowe’en Candy


Fallon seems a relative neophyte compared to late night content champion Kimmel. One of his most popular videos is the user generated “I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Hallowe’en Candy.” While Fallon is a friendly face, Kimmel gets by with an acidic kind of humor. With typical Kimmel style vitriol, Kimmel asked parents to tell their kids that they ate all of their Hallowe’en candy and a viral hit was born.


Conan O’Brien: Louis CK on Cellphones


Conan O’Brien thrives by being one of the smartest, weirdest guys on late night. In this video interview with Louis CK, he also shows that the classic staple of late night, the celebrity interview, can be just as successful online as content specifically designed for digital.


For more tips on creating viral content, check out how former “Star Trek” cast members make social content the world loves here.