Tommy Keeps it fresh
Is the Internet transforming stand-up comedy? Aziz Ansari is the latest to givefans an online exclusive
Continuing the trend Louis C.K. started in December of last year, Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari has released his new hour long special, Dangerously Delicious, directly through his website for just $5.
The special, which is composed of completely new material (i.e., different from what he's currently touring with) can be downloaded five times and streamed three, allowing the viewer freedom to enjoy it any way they choose — a key aspect to to the direct distribution model.
Ansari, with the help of his 1.7 million Twitter followers and Parks and Recreation fans worldwide, should have no problem recouping the special's production cost and web hosting fees, which he paid for himself. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for every comic. While no one has attempted and failed, it seems almost necessary that a loyal following, especially in stand-up comedy, already exist. Otherwise, the large costs of taping and distributing a comedy special might not be covered.
Thanks to the enormous success of CK's Live at Beacon Theater special, Ansari isn't the only comedian embracing the daring distribution model.
Still, thanks to the enormous success of CK's Live at Beacon Theater special, Ansari isn't the only comedian embracing the daring distribution model. Jim Gaffigan, best friend of Flight of the Conchords' manager Murray Hewitt, one-half of crime fighting duo Pale Force and hot pocket aficianado, has announced he will be releasing his new special, Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe, using the same model in April.
In a move likely to entice even more buyers, Gaffigan will donate $1 from each of the $5 sales directly to the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which helps injured war veterans. In a comment online, the comic expressed hopes that the low price and donation would be enough to deter piracy, joking, “Who would want the karma of stealing from wounded veterans?”
It really is a brilliant strategy, though. After Louis C.K.'s special hit $1 million in sales, the comedian announced that he donated a quarter of his profits to several charities and another quarter as bonuses to his staff. All of C.K.'s giving cultivated a feeling of self righteousness within his fans. Knowing that they helped reward the comedian's staff and a few worthwhile charities dramatically increased the value of each purchase.
The low price, charitable contribution, and ease of use all factor in to the success of direct distribution, but that alone won't make the model successful. It takes big names like Louis C.K., Gaffigan and Ansari — along with others throughout different mediums — to promote the idea and to encourage others to take the leap before it will become an industry standard. And of course, people have to actually buy the product.
I haven't watched Ansari's special yet, and although I enjoyed his previous work, I'm not too concerned with whether or not this one will make me laugh. I'm sure it will, but either way, it's only five bucks.
And what kind of asshole is going to complain about dropping a five-spot on an hour-long special that cost a year and hundreds of thousands of dollars to create and release? Actually, a lot of assholes will do just that. Sorry, Aziz.