Colbert beat Fallon.
This is astounding news, since Colbert’s show was a disaster that required the hiring of an executive producer, and was an endeavor far from what made Colbert a star to begin with.
Colbert made it on politics. Playing a character. Having an edge.
And then he went on at 11:30 on CBS and did David Letterman’s show just like everybody else at that hour.
And that’s a mistake. Never imitate, never follow, always test the limits, always be yourself.
Prior to Letterman late night was informational. Sure, there was comedy, but not every interview was scripted with a joke and intellectuals and writers got airtime too. But then David made it all about hijinks and everybody else did too. And Leno was canned and Fallon replaced him and the media couldn’t stop fawning over the edgeless Jimmy, the nice guy who was nice to everybody.
But that paradigm is dead.
If you’re playing to everybody, you’re playing to nobody. That’s the story of the past five years, the plethora of information that makes it nearly impossible to get your message heard. Feel lucky you have an audience at all. And satiate it, not those who don’t care.
Trump taught us a lot of lessons. That you didn’t have to pull your punches, that you could have a rough identity and people would identify with it. Now don’t get your left wing knickers in a twist, of course the Donald has said heinous things, but what was most fascinating was that the media believed that his faux pas would derail his campaign and they did not. What are you not doing because you’re afraid of the blowback that would actually help you?
Now don’t think that late night television counts. It doesn’t. The king of late night television is on in the morning, and his show is repeated 24/7, that is Howard Stern. Sirius XM has 31 million subscribers. And Sirius didn’t even have a million before Stern signed on. Stern reaches more people than any of the late night nitwits. If you want to get your message across, go there. As for those bitching the show is adolescent bathroom humor, the truth is they don’t listen and those who do appreciate Stern’s honesty. It’s a fine line Howard walks, he’s an authority but pokes fun at himself. He’s honed his act over forty years, and that’s why the young ‘uns can’t compete.
But Colbert was the odd man out until he went anti-Trump.
Fallon’s being nice to everybody, and his ratings are tanking.
Last year, Fallon averaged 3.6 million viewers. Now he doesn’t even break 3. Colbert had 2.8 million viewers for the week of January 30, 12,000 more than Fallon!
So what this tells us is to ignore conventional wisdom. The publicists have their disinformation campaigns wherein they convince media outlets to print that which is not true. Furthermore, institutions avoid danger. Expecting a big protest at the Grammys? Not. Ken Ehrlich will threaten a ban, some odd person will make a statement, but the Grammys have to be safe for America. Which is an odd concept, since the President is not safe for America, but the point is by time it’s broadcast by the usual suspects, it’s wrong.
Second, every niche is hungry for truth and edge, they want people like them, with an identity. This is what musical performers are getting wrong, never mind the late night nitwits. They’re wary of criticism by those who don’t care. Trump got elected despite the left wing bitching. Ignore the haters, truly!
The opposition is working the refs. Don’t succumb to the blowback.
Want to succeed tomorrow?
Have an opinion. When the press blows it up, stay steady. People will know your name, those who follow you will be impressed, and those who don’t can be safely ignored. This is not the eighties where a limited number of acts were on MTV and spooned out singles from albums for years around the world. Even the biggest acts are unknown by many. I dare most people to sing two Taylor Swift songs and the average adult has no idea who the Weeknd is. Just like you don’t know the number one and two video games and have never been to a live video game competition. If you’re feeling holier-than-thou, the joke is on you. There’s just too much information.
Think Velcro. It only works with hooks. The audience is the loops. Unless you have hooks, in your songs, in your personality, you won’t get anywhere. Think rough, not smooth.
And know that everybody is lonely and looking for connection, and when they resonate with your truth and identity, you’re golden.
Colbert stopped playing it safe and triumphed.
When are you gonna do the same thing?