BWF in the News
Why Jim Gaffigan Is Banking on Social to Sell His $5 Comedy Special (Marshable Entertainment)
April 11, 2012
Even if you don’t know Jim Gaffigan by name, you’d probably recognize him. The standup comic and writer has had a number of successful Comedy Central specials, and played character roles in TV series like Royal Pains, Bored to Death and My Boys. His observational humor has garnered him a loyal fan base, but he’s only recently cashed it in for followers on the social web.
Today, taking pages from fellow comics Louis CK and Aiziz Ansari, Gaffigan sidesteps traditional distribution channels (cable networks, record labels) and releases his 75-minute comedy special Mr. Universe exclusively on his website. The price of the DRM-free video file is $5, and you can download it now.
Gaffigan is the third top comic we’ve seen turn to the web for direct distribution, but he says his plans were in the works before he got wind of Louis CK’s experiment.
“It was inspired by me being censored on a Comedy Central thing,” Gaffigan tells Mashable, referring to the network’s Night of Too Many Stars, a benefit for autism education. “[Comedian] Robert Smigel called me when he was editing the show and said … ‘We’ve got to cut out some of these jokes because they’re worried about advertisers.’”
Gaffigan’s aversion is “not a slam on Comedy Central, but the reality of being in the clutches of advertisers,” he explains. “I knew I was going to be dealing with a lot of product names in my upcoming special, so I decided to look outside the box.”
Before arriving at the direct distribution model, he had explored other options.
“I wanted to do something where maybe I streamed it for free on my website, maybe with a sponsor,” he says.
He also considered selling the special to Amazon or eBay, where fans would have to go to those sites to watch it for free — sponsored hosting, essentially. Another option was going directly to Netflix. None of them panned out. Then, Louis CK changed the game.
“I saw what Louis did, and there are many things to learn from it. One of them is to keep it really cheap and really easy to get,” says Gaffigan. “If I can sell tickets [to my shows] around the country, I should be able to sell a 75-minute special for five bucks.” Click here to view more