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DID YOU READ

Louis CK offers up new comedy special for $5 online, bypassing traditional distributors

Louis CK offers up new comedy special for $5 online, bypassing traditional distributors (photo)

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Back in 2007, Brit rockers Radiohead shook the entertainment world with an unprecedented event. For their new album, In Rainbows, the band would allow fans to name their own price to download the entire compilation, thus bypassing traditional means of distribution such as retail stores, along with the entire notion of a record label.

The experiment was a success, financially freeing the band from the constraints of the organized music business and allowing them to connect directly with their fans. Industry watchers waited to see who would be next to follow in Radiohead’s footsteps, but they probably didn’t expect that one of the biggest subsequent salvos would come from the world of comedy.

In mid-November 2011, fed up with dealing with television outlets and various external demands, stand-up extraordinaire Louis CK decided make his own stand. The comedian rented New York City’s Beacon Theater, hired his own production crew and filmed a brand-new one-hour comedy special out of his own pocket. The aim? To offer it one month later as a $5 Internet download.

Like Radiohead’s initiative, Louis CK’s plan would be potentially earth-shattering for the comedy industry. No longer would comedians be forced to play in the sandbox of traditional comedy producers like Comedy Central, and split profits with a host of links in the chain. While undeniably risky from a financial standpoint, the measure of success would be lower, answering to only one master: himself.

Louis CK’s trial offering went up yesterday afternoon on Louisck.com, and early anecdotal comments from the comedian seem to suggest he’s happy with the results. The hour special has been made available to fans via streaming or as a non-DRM downloadable file. It’s that latter point that offers the most damning possibilities. Without built-in copyright protections, Louis CK opens himself up to the media industry’s sworn enemy: torrent users.

The comedian responds to that threat directly, printing a message on his website which states:

To those who might wish to “torrent” this video: look, I don’t really get the whole “torrent” thing. I don’t know enough about it to judge either way. But I’d just like you to consider this: I made this video extremely easy to use against well-informed advice. I was told that it would be easier to torrent the way I made it, but I chose to do it this way anyway, because I want it to be easy for people to watch and enjoy this video in any way they want without “corporate” restrictions.

Please bear in mind that I am not a company or a corporation. I’m just some guy. I paid for the production and posting of this video with my own money. I would like to be able to post more material to the fans in this way, which makes it cheaper for the buyer and more pleasant for me. So, please help me keep this being a good idea. I can’t stop you from torrenting; all I can do is politely ask you to pay your five little dollars, enjoy the video, and let other people find it in the same way.

A quick initial search shows nearly a thousand users actively downloading the special at the time this article was written, so time will tell whether legal purchasers would substantially outweigh illegal downloaders enough to overcome the missed dollars. But no matter which way that pendulum swings, one thing is clear: Louis CK is now a gamechanger.

Fellow comics and typical comedy distributors like television networks and record labels will be observing closely. For his part, CK is keeping watch most of all, and eagerly awaiting the conclusive returns. “I don’t know the stats yet,” he said. “It’s like a pile of 5 dollar bills and a sleepy lobster is sorting through it.”

What do you think about Louis CK’s master plan? Have you bought the special yet? Let us know below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…