It’s about time. Seriously. I long have wondered why Comedy Central had not done more to cement its branding as the central place for all things comedy, so today’s announcement by the cable network that it has created a live entertainment division sounds like positive news. The network, of course, already has established Comedy Central Records and increased its position there in recent years — the release of the posthumous Mitch Hedberg CD debuted at #18 on the Billboard charts and stayed in the top 100 for the next two weeks. They also have expanded to live stand-up DVDs and comedy tours. Several comedians in the past year have made side deals with Comedy Central to air their hour specials. And this year, the network has partnered with the New York Comedy Festival to provide new broadcast and retail opportunities. Acknowledging this expansion, Comedy Central publicly has gone on record today that they’re willing to step things up a notch or two or more.

Here is an official quote from Mitch Fried, the new senior v.p. of Comedy Central Live Entertainment:

"By providing talent, whether they’re just starting out or are already household names, with the strength and power of the COMEDY CENTRAL brand we will be able to maximize their exposure and revenue by
reaching their fans across multiple platforms, be it through a tour, a special, a CD, a DVD or all of the above, making COMEDY CENTRAL an even more appealing home for the top comedians in the industry."

The first deal for the division is with musical comedian Stephen Lynch, who Comedy Central will back on both a U.S. and international tour, and a one-hour stand-up special that’ll air first on Comedy Central, then released unedited on DVD.