Louis C.K. has revealed that his new comedy special, Louis C.K.: Live at the Beacon Theater, has sold over 110,000 copies since Saturday, pulling in a gross of more than $500,000. The comedian released the special exclusively through his website and charged his fans $5 via PayPal for two downloads and two streams of the performance, which was filmed last month during the New York Comedy Festival.
In a Q&A session with Reddit, C.K. explained that of the overall gross, $170,000 covered the production’s costs, $32,000 paid for the development of his website and a smaller cut of the cash went to PayPal fees. “We can safely say that the experiment really worked,” C.K. told Reddit. “If anybody stole it, it wasn’t many of you. Pretty much everybody bought it.”
C.K. elected to release the new special himself in part to keep prices down out of consideration to his fans. “I really feel connected to the people who pay to see me,” he recently told Rolling Stone. “They end up paying all those premium ticket costs and add-ons for the promoters. It’s fucking brutal. I don’t want people to pay more just because they like me more.”
In addition to personally funding the special and video release, C.K. also edited the footage. “I have to edit stuff myself,” he said. “I can’t sit behind someone, telling them what I want and waiting for them to do it.” The D.I.Y. approach to this project is a natural progression from the star’s FX sitcom Louie, in which he writes, directs and edits every episode. “I wouldn’t have taken all this on if I didn’t think I could do it,” C.K. says. “I used to need help. Now I know I can do it myself. I’m right about things, and when I’m not, it’s interesting to watch me be wrong. There’s nothing above me except responsibility for the work.”