For far too many stand-up comedians, crowd work is a crutch to lean against when you don’t have material. For far too many audience members, crowd work means a fear that a stand-up comedian will make fun of you.
But it’s something special when Todd Barry does it.
You’ll find out just how special when Todd Barry: The Crowd Work Tour comes out in March.
We learned last night that Louis C.K. financed Barry’s special and will release it exclusively online via C.K.’s website at buy.louisck.net.
Barry also talked about his new special in an interview on Tuesday night’s “The Goddamn Dave Hill Show” on WFMU. “In September I did a Crowd Work tour where I just interacted with the crowd. No jokes. No material. Just kinda walked up there and started…talking to people. You’ve seen comics do crowd work,” Barry told Hill. “I filmed this tour. It was seven cities. Lance Bangs, who you may know, has directed a lot of cool stuff…we had a whole film crew, and we filmed seven shows, starting in San Diego, going up to Anchorage, Alaska.”
Is it more stressful or more fun to perform without preparing material, Hill wondered?
“It’s both,” Barry replied. “Because you walk around, you get to the city, and you’re luck, ‘Oh, I have nothing to think about…”
At the end of his interview on Tuesday night’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote the digital release of his first independent feature film, Tomorrow Night, Louis C.K. also revealed that he’ll be releasing Barry’s “Crowd Work” special on his website.
As Louis C.K. told Jon Stewart:
“Todd Barry’s a great comedian (crowd applauds). Please don’t take my time with his applause, though! Todd did a thing called the Crowd Work Tour, where he only talks to the audience. He did a whole tour, of hour-long shows, with no jokes, just chatting with the audience. And, so, we — I sent a crew out. This is the first thing that I’m funding through my website. I financed it. We produced it with Todd. A special called Todd Barry: Crowd Work. And that’s going to be coming out in March. It’ll be released through my website. That’s probably the coolest thing we’ve done so far.”
To which Stewart said: “You’re the Don Kirshner of comedy.”
“That’s right,” C.K. replied.
Stewart: “Boy, am I old. Nobody knows who that is.”
Don Kirshner — fun fact — in addition to being a songwriter and music manager, was most visibly known and remembered as the host and executive producer of Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, a 90-minute televised variety program that aired in late-night syndication from 1973 to 1981. You may have seen best-of DVDs of the show sold much more recently in infomercials.
But back to Barry. Look for Todd Barry: The Crowd Work Tour, on Louis C.K.’s website in March. Barry’s special may be the first that C.K. has financed, but it’s not the first other comedian that he’s sold and promoted through his site. That would be Tig Notaro’s LIVE — which would go on to earn a Grammy nomination after C.K. offered the initial edition on his site in August 2012.