A New C.K. Model

February 22, 2012

When Louis C.K. said he’d grossed more than $1 million off his self-released, $5 stand-up special, “Live at the Beacon Theater,” the question wasn’t “Would others follow suit?” but “Who wouldn’t?”

Jim Gaffigan is the first to adopt the C.K. method, announcing last week that he’ll produce and release his next special himself. “Mr. Universe,” which Gaffigan is taping at the Warner Theatre on Saturday, will be out in April as a simple, $5 download, with $1 from each purchase going to charity.

While not exactly following the C.K. model, Bill Maher, host of the HBO political talk show “Real Time,” is also bucking industry norms. Though Maher has filmed nine specials for HBO since 1989, his new hour, “CrazyStupidPolitics,” won’t be on TV, nor is it downloadable. Instead, Yahoo Screen (Screen.Yahoo.com) will stream the set live from California Thursday at 10:30 p.m. — for free.

It’s no wonder C.K.’s innovation has caught on. Stand-up comedy is one of the few showbiz professions in which performers are in total control of their work. If you’re in charge of your act onstage, why wouldn’t you want to have the same command when you release your work to the world?

Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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