Comedy's often about sticking it to the man. If you're US comedian Louis CK, it's about sticking it to the middleman too.
In a move reminiscent of Radiohead's refusal to play the commercial game, he recently announced on US television that his New York standup show this week will be recorded and made available exclusively through his website for streaming or download next month. The price? A princely five US dollars. No broadcaster required. No DVD distributors. No iTunes. And no appeasing advertisers. Kerching? Creative and financial freedom in one deft digital move.
"I'm just paying for it with the ticket money from the people that bought tickets... [and you can] go on my website, it's five bucks. Paypal. That's the only way you can see it," he told late night chat show host Conan O' Brien.
In the UK, it's nothing new to cut out the traditional broadcaster and go directly online - but only with the backing of advertisers. This week, The Fast Show makes a welcome return, but not to the BBC. Instead, Fosters has cannily brought them back to an eager public following the spectacular success of the Alan Partridge series of online shorts Mid Morning Matters, and Vic and Bob's Afternoon Delights. Meanwhile, media company Channel Flip has seen the likes of David Mitchell and Harry Hill ally their names with advertisers and original short-form content.
Louis's move - surely music to the ears of mavericks such as our own Daniel Kitson - is a sign that comedians' creativity doesn't just count when writing their set; they're now harnessing that creativity to become ever more autonomous. Only this week, a Twitter-inspired improv show featuring Neil Mullarkey, 140 characters, was broadcast live through 140characters.tv It's a sign that comedians' careers are in their own hands now more than ever; hands that can give the V-sign to those that previously fed them.
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