By Ken Tucker
Updated June 23, 2010 at 11:38 AM EDT

A power outage inspired an electrically energetic edition of Jimmy Kimmel Live last night. Faced with inoperative cameras in his Hollywood studio, Kimmel simply put his big round face in front of his own laptop and did the entire show via webcam.

Holding his computer in one hand, his guests holding their own microphones, Kimmel interviewed Seth Rogen, Wipeout‘s John Henson, and had music guest Dierks Bentley perform an acoustic tune. Rogen was up for the challenge:

Henson had some amusing material about his impending wedding, but in this shambling context, his anecdotes came off a little too polished. On this night, the medium was the message.

The studio lights still had juice, but the power outage took out the cameras and the control room. Using the webcam on his laptop, the visuals were fuzzy and occasionally a bit vertiginous. But we’re all so used to seeing visuals like this when we’ve monkeyed around with a webcam ourselves, it was easy to become oriented quickly. Even in the opening moments, you could see that Kimmel and the studio audience were into the low-tech fun.

The impromptu format proved the best plug possible for Dierks Bentley and his new album, Up On The Ridge. Bentley’s attempt to get back to bare-bones, roots country, he and his band sounded great acoustically.

This winging-it-when-things-go-kerflooey is a time-honored talk-show tradition. Remember when Craig Ferguson continued his show when the lights went out mid-taping?

Near the top of the show, Kimmel said, “We have reach a crossroads. Either this will be a great idea and we’ll get accolades for it, or this is bull—-.”

Consider this an accolade. Here’s a link to nearly all the segments of the show so you can judge for yourself.

What do you think?

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