Thanks to comedian Louis C.K., the business of comedy is undergoing rapid changes. Who controls the distribution of content in the niche is being turned on its head.
We wrote about Mr. C.K. just the other day here on TNW, noting the success of his method to help end ticket scalping by implementing his own sales system – and rules. If you bought a ticket to one of his shows, and try to sell it for a higher price, the ticket is canceled. End of story. Scalping is down over 90% due to the system.
However, the ticketing ploy isn’t Louis’s first use of technology to change the comedy landscape; he previously made headlines by self-releasing a comedy special, selling it for a flat $5, without DRM. It was a massive success, selling more than 200,000 units.
Other comedians, such as Aziz Ansari and Jim Gaffigan followed in those footsteps. Now, a new website, Lolflix, wants to allow even more folks to sell their specials for $5, sans DRM. LaughSpin, who discovered the site, explains its goals:
LOLFlix allows users to stream or download stand-up specials that were originally produced for Showtime, and now Scott Montoya, the longtime comedy producer behind it all, is beginning to work alongside comedians to produce original specials as well.
So, extant content is being sold, and new, fresh content is on the way. Sounds great, right? Well, there are a few issues that may stick. To begin, the site take a fat cut, up to 50%, of revenues. This is quite different than what Louis C.K. did, by producing the entire affair himself; he wasn’t in business with anyone else for a slice of the pie approaching half. Also, some are protesting that the website forces users to create accounts, something that C.K. did not.
From Reddit user Iggyhopper:
Isn’t this just another middleman in a new form? Sign up with a lolflix account? How ’bout no. Louis CK required one thing to enter: your email.
Still, those bumps aside, the website, if it can attract a sufficiently large userbase, could help smaller comedians make a few bucks, and perhaps produce their own hour long set. And that would be nothing but a good thing.
Comedian Louis C.K. met with TV critics during FX’s press tour event, discussing everything from season 3 of his hit comedy Louie to the failure of his directorial movie debut Pootie Tang. Here are the highlights:
• Louie heads back into production next month. C.K. wasn’t that forthcoming with story lines for season 3, but then again, he hasn’t written much of it yet. (He has four pages of notes.) “I’m terrified of season 3 not being as good as season 2,” he said. “It keeps me up at night.” He did note that season 3 would be different than season 2, which explored the world of standup. (And while talking to a group of reporters after the session, he seemed to indicate that the show will continue to deal with issue of mortality when he hinted that “some people will die.” Added C.K.: “I think one reason I like killing people on the show, it’s because when you have a TV show… you have power to change reality within the show. So I get to kill people. I get to decide who lives or dies. I don’t think this is good, I think it’s saying something bad about me.”)
• Asked his opinion on why the show broke out in its second season, he pointed to the fact that the audiences had to get used to the show’s unconventional style. In addition, “I know I got better at everything. We shot more carefully. We did more far-reaching episodes.”
• He addressed the show’s tendency to do episodes that weren’t laugh-out-loud funny, and mine more dramatic material, as long as the audience is engaged and it works on some level. “If they’re not saying, ‘Hahaha’ they have to be saying ‘Holy shit’ or ‘Oh my god’ or ‘Why’d he do that?’ Some extreme reaction has to come once in a while.” But he did note that if people stop responding, he’ll throw in more jokes. “If I start hearing that people hate that the show’s not funny enough, I’ll throw a few more jokes in. I’m here to please. I like people.”
• C.K. wanted to use the classic hit “Brother Louie” as his theme song, but he couldn’t afford the rights, so he got the publishing rights instead and emailed Stories singer Ian Lloyd to ask him if he’d record a new version. (The Stories covered the original 1973 Hot Chocolate hit.) Lloyd agreed, and the two have become friends.
• Of the many hats that C.K. wears on Louie – exec producer, writer, director, editor, and star – the only one he’d consider delegating to someone else would be the editing gig. (C.K. was nominated for an editing Emmy last year.)
• Ursula Parker, who plays one of C.K.’s young daughters (and also happens to play a mean violin), likes to improv, and when C.K. asks her to stick to the script, she does not always comply because “she knows it’s bothering me.” “I’m burning film trying to raise this kid,” he cracked. He also joked that he didn’t want to sing her praises too much because “I don’t want to giver her any leverage in negotiations.”
• Of the 26 or 27 years he’s been doing standup, he said: “I’ve had two great years, probably five good years. So I had 20 years of just kind of uncertainty and suffering and ego destruction and poverty. All these things. There’s no way I’m ever going to catch up to the misery years. It’s impossible….If I don’t do anything dumb or I don’t get a disease or something, and then I’ve got to five to eight years I think where it’ll really be great and then it will start to degenerate like uranium, you know?”
• He is not interested in hosting an awards show, unless it was an awards show about movies from the ‘70s. Besides, he said, he doesn’t keep current on Hollywood and celebrity culture like he did in the days when he wrote for Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, and Chris Rock, which would mean “I would have to go see everything and pretend I give a shit and I don’t,” he quipped. (He did note that he reads EW, and occasionally Us Weekly.)
• When a reporter referenced Pootie Tang, the infamous Chris Rock big-screen comedy that he wrote and directed, C.K. talked freely and entertainingly about getting fired from the project. “I was sucking at making the movie, and they rightfully fired me, and then it came out with my name on it,” he shared. “But it was a great learning experience. That was a good example of being in a very bad place and enjoying it. I was sitting in a chair much like this one in [then-Paramount chief] John Goldwyn’s office in Paramount. He was screaming at me, his face was really red, and I was sitting there going, ‘Wow, now I’m really a movie guy.’ Getting yelled at by a studio head, it was a thrill.” While he acknowledged that he still had “a little scar tissue” from that experience, he took away lessons that help him today: “Failing at Pootie Tang is why this show is good. “
• Speaking about the creative freedom he enjoys these days, he noted: “If they don’t let me do it the way it should be done, I just won’t do it. And one thing that enables me to do that is that I can go on the road and do comedy. I can just go do standup. I don’t need this shit. I really don’t… This is the greatest thing that ever happened to me but I don’t need it. And I’m eternally grateful to [FX] for letting me do it this way. I don’t know why they gave me this much freedom. If I was running FX, I would have never given me what they’ve given me. It was irresponsible.”