Our boo Aziz Ansari, Parks and Rec star and comedian extraordinaire, announced via Twitter today that he was pulling a Louis C.K. and offering his new standup special, “Dangerously Delicious,” online only. Fans just have to enter their email address and pay $5, and they can stream or download the special directly from Mr. Ansari’s website.
This isn’t the first time a comedian has subverted the mainstream distribution companies to market a special. The move was made famous by Louis C.K. last December, when he managed to surpass big company distributors and have all of the money made from the sales go directly into his pocket, without having to give a cut to the studios. He netted $500,000 in gross sales in just four days, and fans claimed the method “turned pirates back into paying customers.”
If you can get away with it–which Mr. C.K. and Mr. Ansari are poised to do–it’s kind of a genius move, but it really only works if you have enough fans willing to shell out directly for your work. Both comedians have established cult-like followings online and off, with their fame only further emphasized by their successful TV shows, FX’s Louie and NBC’s Parks and Recreation.
As one Hacker News commenter noted, the success of comedy podcasts paved the way for more creative forms of distribution, especially for web-savvy comedians. Mr. Ansari boasts over 1.7 million Twitter followers, so he was really the natural successor to Mr. C.K.’s innovative distribution method.