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The Laugh Factory stage has launched the careers of many comedians. And if owner Jamie Masada has his way, the club could soon launch careers online, too.
The L.A. comedy club is making a foray into online distribution with a series of specials released on YouTube and Amazon.
The club’s first special is Laugh Factory Presents Raj Sharma Live From Las Vegas. It is available to rent for 99 cents or purchase for $2.99 on YouTube Movies on Demand and Amazon Instant Video.
Up-and-coming comedians often lose money on comedy specials, Masada says, because they are expensive to produce. He created the Comedy Combine to help them make money.
“There are a bunch of comedy places that charge comedians $150,000 to $200,000 to videotape and make their specials,” he says. “By the time they finish, the comedians not only don’t make any money, they have to pay for it.”
The Laugh Factory plans to front the costs of producing the specials, but will then take a 20 percent cut of streaming sales. The comedians will keep the remaining 80 percent.
That’s a good proposition, says Raj Sharma, a stand-up comedian who got his start in Texas before becoming a regular at the Laugh Factory.
“The way Jamie’s doing it, it’s credible,” he says. “What he did with my special, that’s an offer that you couldn’t get anywhere else.”
Masada’s online strategy is inspired by comedians such as Louis C.K., who produced his own special in 2011 and sold it online for $5.
Sharma says that’s the direction that comedy is headed.
“That’s the future,” he adds. “I think it’s a better avenue to get more visibility.”
The Laugh Factory’s second special with comedian Tim Gaither is also available to stream online.
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