Ten years ago not many people knew who Louis C.K. was. A couple of late night talk show appearances, including a memorable one in which he describes how amazing life is and we are all miserable on Conan, and now he is arguably the hottest stand up comedian out, with one of the most innovative, unique shows on television. Live at the Beacon Theater is the fourth full length special/ concert film from Louis C.K. and once again he throws away all previous material, and comes at you with sixty minutes worth of brilliant, and honest comedy. What sets this apart from others is not only his material, but the way it was distributed. Louis skipped the “middle man” and went straight to the consumer. He bypassed numerous companies vying for the rights to distribute his special. He offered anyone with internet access to visit his website and download the special for $5 via paypal.
It seems pretty simple right? The only problem is that because of the way it is distributed it becomes easy to illegally obtain. However, leave it to Louis C.K. to take care of almost two decades worth of illegal file sharing by simply writing a personal letter to the buyer at the bottom of the download screen. The note simply asked everyone, in typical Louis C.K. style, that he produced the special with his own money and to not be a dickhead and actually buy it, don’t steal it. When i was reading the note from Louis I thought to myself that wow this guy really took a huge risk with putting his work out there for people, and I appreciate it so I’ll gladly spend $5 of my own money. Well his experiment worked. In fact it worked very well. In just over 12 days the special has made over $1 million.
So Louis took a quarter of the million and set it aside to cover the production cost of making the special, set aside another quarter for his staff on “Louie”, then donated just over a quarter of it to charity. That leaves around $220,000. “Some of that will pay my rent and will care for my children. The rest I will do terrible, horrible things with and none of that is any of your business,”
In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Louis explained, “I’ve never had a million dollars all at once. I grew up pretty poor and I was like, this is not even my money,” he said. “This is just a five-dollar impulse that 220,000 people had, and now I have it. And I felt uncomfortable about having that much money.”
That’s just the kind of man he is. I’ve watched countless hours of video, and interviews of Louis and he just doesn’t seem to be phased by the spotlight. He wears jeans and a black t-shirt on almost every piece of video I see him in, and even walk to the comedy clubs in NY when he is performing. He’s just a guy. He’s a divorced father of two who is brutally honest in his views. He does Now I’m sure he splurges on a hooker every now and then, but hey how can you blame the guy.
“I never viewed money as being ‘my money’ I always saw it as ‘The money.’ It’s a resource. if it pools up around me then it needs to be flushed back out into the system,” he wrote. “If I make another million, I’ll give more of it away.”
I highly recommend spending the $5 on this hour long special, or if you don’t feel like spending the money right away, take a look at a few of his acts on YouTube. You won’t be disappointed. Well actually i can’t guarantee that because he does say some pretty fucked up stuff, but nonetheless If you’re not shy when it comes to comedy then he’s your guy.
Could we possibly be seeing the future of material distribution? It seems to early say yes, but this experiment worked. He took a huge risk, one that could have easily backfired, but for now it looks like smooth sailing for Louis C.K. It’s barely been two weeks, and it’s scary to think how many people will have bought it in a month. So go check the special out. Aids.