Louis CK has done what proved so difficult two decades ago for Pearl Jam: Set up and establish a successful independent ticketing system for touring. Of course, a lot has changed with technology since the 1990s, and Pearl Jam wasn’t able to build a website back then with implements in place to allow fans to purchase individual tickets directly from them online. Louis CK has done that this week.
In fact, the comedian — who just launched the service on https://buy.louisck.net/tour-dates on Monday — announced late Wednesday, that: “well. after 45 hours, my tour has sold 100K tickets, box office gross of 4.5 mil $ (not all mine). I guess it was a good idea.”
$45 tickets (taxes included and absorbed by him), 45 hours, $4.5 million in sales. Yeah. Good idea!
The tour kicks off Oct. 3, 2012, in Cleveland, and hits 25 cities between then and February 2013. Including 10 shows so far in New York City. Several shows have sold out and cities are adding additional shows where and when possible.
In a phone call with reporters Wednesday, CK said of his DIY process to touring this fall: “It was really hard but really fun. I’m a very curious person, and so whenever I get into a new facet of what I do, I like to learn about it. And then when I learn about it, I start asking questions like, ‘Why does it have to be this way?’ So as I’ve toured the past couple of years in the big theaters and found out how it works, I get angry emails from fans of how much they’re paying that’s not even part of the ticket price. I start to learn the economics of promotion and ticket sales and all that stuff.”
Which naturally made him ask, Could he use the process he used to sell his latest stand-up special, “Live at the Beacon Theater,” and adapt it to a tour? He and his agent, Mike Berkowitz, went looking for the answer.
“It was a lot of work,” CK said. “But something I learned from Louie is that whenever we’re going to do something in the show that’s much more difficult, we do it much later in the season, and we spend deliberate, careful time preparing it. So in this case, with the theaters, we had to go to every city and any city that we couldn’t play the usual venue because of how the ticket company has it set up. They sort of have these places locked down or they own a lot of them; we had to find places that were willing to do it our way. And it was kind of a risk, I felt it was a bigger risk than Live at the Beacon; it was just going to be this file sitting there that nobody wanted. But in this case, these are shows in 25 or so cities that would have been empty. Anyway, it worked.”
In conversations with his Twitter followers, CK said he and his agent found only one venue in Los Angeles that could work with his website’s ticketing process, but that the venue’s available dates didn’t fit his schedule. New Orleans didn’t have any theaters that could work with him.
He also said that if you buy a ticket to see his tour through any re-seller, it’s likely to be invalid when you show up at the theater.
In the meantime, his FX series, Louie, returns for season three tonight at 10:30 p.m. Eastern/Pacific.
Among the guest stars in the third season? “I won’t tell you all of them, but Melissa Leo is on the second one. F. Murray Abraham comes back. He’s one of my favorites. Robin Williams does a thing, later in the season. Jerry Seinfeld is on the show,” CK said. “A lot of things are lining up.” One person not in the cast for this season’s 13 episodes is Pamela Adlon, who played his foil, failed love interest and also works with the comedian on the show as a consulting producer. “Her story kind of ended in that airport,” he said.
Here’s Louis CK talking to Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday night about selling his specials and tour online, as well as the new season of Louie. Roll the clips!