Denis Leary on Why Louis C.K. is the Future of Comedy

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 21: Actor / Comedian Louis C.K. attends the 16th Annual Webby Awards on May 21, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/WireImage for The Webby Awards)

Comedian Louis C.K.’s will return to television on June 28 for the third season of his much-acclaimed stand-up-meets-single-dad sitcom Louie, on FX. But in the time between last season and this one, Louis C.K. has made more news for staying off TV. In case you missed it: in December, rather than going the conventional route of a pay-per-view or cable special for his latest live concert material, he released the show online as a $5 download from his personal website. Even though people could have ripped multiple copies and gotten around the fee, he made more than $1 million dollars in less than two weeks, and none of it went to a network.

And this week, in an email to fans, C.K. announced that he will sell tickets to his upcoming tour exclusively on his official website for just $45—a fraction of the price charged by ticketing services.

“Making my shows affordable has always been my goal but two things have always worked against that. High ticket charges and ticket re-sellers marking up the prices,” explained C.K. in the email. “Some ticketing services charge more than 40% over the ticket price and, ironically, the lower I’ve made my ticket prices, the more scalpers have bought them up, so the more fans have paid for a lot of my tickets.

“By selling the tickets exclusively on my site, I’ve cut the ticket charges way down and absorbed them into the ticket price. To buy a ticket, you join NOTHING. Just use your credit card and buy the damn thing,” he continued.

(MORE: Louis CK Interview, Part 1: Fatherhood and Fear)

At a recent press event for The Amazing Spider-Man, in which he plays police chief Captain Stacy, fellow comedian Denis Leary told the crowd that he believes self-produced comedy is the future of the business: “There’s no question about it,” he said, pointing out that comedians Aziz Ansari and Jim Gaffigan have already followed the Louis C.K. model. And it’s about more than just the money you make and the cut the network can take, he said. When HBO produces a special, they own the material; when a comedian does the production, he or she can do what he or she desires with it.

(MORE: Louis CK Interview, Part 2: Money and Mortality)

As for Leary, while he is a producer on the upcoming IFC series based on comedian Marc Maron’s podcast, he said not to expect him to personally follow the trend any time soon: a solid month’s worth of stand-up shows only produces 15-20 new minutes of material and he doesn’t like to repeat gags, so he would need more time than he has in order to prepare an hour-long special. “If you see me doing a new stand-up special,” he said, “it probably means I’ve been out of work for a while.”

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