Pay what you want for the Humble Comedy Bundle's DRM-free laughs

Despite the entertainment industry’s general reluctance to combat piracy with competition, stand-up comedians are figuring out how to make the digital world work to their advantage. On Wednesday, Humble Bundle announced the Humble Comedy Bundle, featuring comedians such as Louis C.K., Patrice O’Neal, Jim Norton, Maria Bamford, and Tig Notaro.

If you’re not familiar with Humble Bundle, the company offers limited time collections of entertainment such as e-books, video games, and, now, comedy specials. Humble Bundle lets you pay what you want with the proceeds going directly to the artists, as well as charities such as the Child’s Play Charity and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. All Humble Bundle purchases come as DRM-free downloads. The Humble Comedy Bundle offering ends on September 11.

Chuckleheads

The basic version of the Humble Comedy Bundle offers four comedy specials: Maria Bamford: The Special Special Special (video), Tig Notaro: Live (audio), Hannibal Burress: My Name is Hannibal (audio), and Jim Norton: Please Be Offended (video). If you pay more than the average Humble Bundle patron ($8.71 at this writing) you unlock three more stand-up performances from Louis C.K. and Patrice O’Neal.

Since the Humble Comedy Bundle’s debut on Wednesday, the collection of comedy routines has already taken in more than $141,000.

The Louis C.K. offering in the new Humble Bundle is Live at the Beacon Theater from 2011, one of the earliest online experiments by a comedian. Instead of signing up to do a comedy special on HBO or the Comedy Network as many comedians do, C.K. decided to strike it out on his own. The popular comedian produced and directed the special himself and then sold it online as a DRM-free download for $5 a pop.

Four days after the special went up for sale, C.K. says the experiment earned him a profit of $200,000. C.K. has since licensed the performance to Netflix, but continues to sell it on his own website as well. C.K.’s flirtation with the Internet and DRM-free downloads inspired other comedians to follow in his footsteps, including Jim Gaffigan and Aziz Ansari.

Aziz teams up with Netflix

Speaking of digital comedy and Aziz Ansari, "Parks & Recreation" star Ansari is jumping on the Netflix bandwagon. Ansari’s upcoming stand-up special Buried Alive will premiere on the streaming service on November 1, according to The New York Times. Netflix announced in July that it had plans to distribute original stand-up comedy specials and documentaries.

After the Netflix premiere, Ansari plans to sell Buried Alive on his website as another $5 download, the Times says.

Subscribe to the Now Playing Newsletter

Comments