integrated technology, gen y, and jimmy fallon

We’ve now looked at a couple of ways “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” is a sterling example of catering to and reflecting a Gen Y audience. In fact, one of the show’s creators was kind enough to chime in last week – if you missed that, his comment is definitely worth reading. Now on to #4 in this series.

One of the most talked-about ways the new Late Night has participated in “Millennial-ness” – since before the show even began – is its implicit appreciation for technology.

Jimmy’s Late Night actually began with “webisodes” long before Conan O’Brien had turned the show over. This gave Fallon the chance to soft-start for the very crowd he’s been courting ever since – the (very web-savvy) Millennials. And ever since those webisode days, Fallon has used his site – – as a clear extension of the show. The site isn’t simply for “special purposes” like contests or promos, nor is it hawked relentlessly to drive user-ship. Jimmy’s viewers understand participating in the television show via the web, because they participate in everything else via the web.

But the World Wide Web isn’t the only arrow in Fallon’s technology-quiver. His first week saw the introduction of his humongo on-set HDTV. He plays Wii with guests. He Twitters and promotes the Twitter feeds of guests. He keeps official bloggers on staff. He brings guests on to discuss and demonstrate the latest technology – much like the cooking demos that have long been staples of late night TV.

Perhaps most surprising of all, Fallon even Skypes with guests.

That’s right – he video-chats with guests who aren’t even in the studio. It’s a little grainy and a little jittery and clearly not “in the flesh”… and very normal for the many Millennials who communicate through screens as much as otherwise.

And that’s a point that we shouldn’t miss. Jimmy Fallon isn’t just using technology, he’s treating it as mainstream, as normal, as expected. While Jimmy may personally “geek out” about a new, innovative type of technology (and he does, regularly), that’s not the same as the way others respond: as though technology itself is surprising or innovative. To Millennials, it isn’t.

A video game creator is just “the next guest,” not “somebody you wouldn’t normally see here.” Playing Wii with Tiger Woods isn’t surprising, it’s “just something fun to do with a guest.” Likewise, social networking is an obvious move for Fallon and his staff. (It’s notable that while Fallon clearly cherishes the use of Twitter, Conan has a new gag that relentlessly mocks tweeting.)

Our application as ministers is easy enough to see: If we want to connect with and/or reflect our own Millennial audience best, we must assume their widespread use of technology and implement it in every helpful way we can. But let’s remember that it’s not just technology but seamless integration of technology that’s truly going to hit the Gen Y sweet spot. For those we serve, this technology is simply life – not any less standard than eating dinner or watching TV or playing pickup basketball. More and more, it’s not a matter of using technology to be “cutting edge” – but simply to be relevant to Millennials’ daily life.

And if you need a tutor in technology-integration, just tune in to NBC at 12:30 (11:30 Central). It’s like Mavis Beacon for ministers.


This aspect of Fallon’s show has been discussed a’plenty – on the internet. (Imagine that.) So if you want more info, here are a couple of helpful quotes and then some more links. (Obviously, I can’t vouch for the cleanness of all linked sites and articles.)

Jimmy Fallon to MovieWeb:

We’re younger. We’re into tech stuff, gadgets, phones, video games. We’ll treat a video game premiere like a movie premiere. I’m just going to be honest with what I like and what I do. What I enjoy. We’re not going to hide the fact that people are on the Internet all day. I think a lot of shows don’t really mention that. They barely touch on it. Most kids come home from school. They don’t go to their TVs first. They go to the Internet. They check their emails, or some blogs, or some sites. Then they go watch TV. Other people are at work all day 9-5 in front of a computer. They see certain clips. We’re not going to hide the fact that people use the Internet. We’re going to try to be as interactive as possible with our fans.

The Webbys:

The Webby Awards is excited to honor Jimmy Fallon with the Webby Person of the Year Award in recognition of his entusiastic embrace of the Internet to connect with his fans. With his “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” blog and Twitter feed, Jimmy Fallon is one of celebrities and TV personalities most actively engaging with his audience online, even hosting a contest allowing fans to chose the winning logo for Late Night, as part of his video blog series leading up to the show’s debut. He regularly features exclusive content online and is one of a handful of celebrities to use the Web and television as a fully integrated experience.

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is Out of Beta – Wired

How Social Media is Changing the Late Night TV Landscape – Mashable

Why We Digg Jimmy Fallon –

Six Ways “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” Plans to Change TV Forever – Business Insider


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  1. Really appreciating your thoughts here, Benson. Appreciate that you’re willing to look to culture to finds lessons for we in the church. And love that you got a little shout-out from Fallon!! :)

    So grateful for your work.


  2. Pingback: the man your ministry could smell like « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

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