Just before July 4th, comedian Andrew Schulz announced via his social media a bit of independence of his own. After some back and forth, he now owns the rights to his latest comedy special.
“The original streamer refused to air my new special w/out cutting several jokes… Instead of airing a watered down version of the special, I spent my life savings and bought my special back.” Schulz was last associated with Netflix for the release of Schulz Saves America, in 2020 but he did not name the platform he bought his special back from.
The special in question, titled Infamous, was recorded last year as part of a worldwide tour of the same name. Schulz revealed that he’ll forgo selling it to a platform and instead do it himself on July 17th. The comedian is powering the release of the special using the Moment House app, which allows fans to purchase a ticket to a stream, so in essence making his special a pay-per-view event.
On July 5th, Schulz concluded his Flagrant podcast discussing his difficulties in working with a streaming service. “When I do a bit… it takes months and years to build these out,” said Schulz. “To lop it off, or change it- that would be very difficult.”
Schulz has hailed his decision as a potential watershed moment for comics and comedy fans. “If this works… and comics find out they can make more money doing this than doing traditional specials, there will never be a note again on comedy.”
There are other comedians who have spurned streaming DSPs in recent years, hell, long before they were a thing, Louis C.K. was selling his projects direct-to-fans through his website. Over on Youtube, countless comedians like Mark Normand, Sam Morril, Stavros Halkias, Anthony DeVito, Shane Gillis, Mike Cannon, and Yannis Pappas, have been part of a significant existing shift of publishing specials straight there. While those have proven great for the comedians’ profile resulting in better ticket sales and social follows. The CPM model Youtube offers for ads is generally not nearly as large as a streaming giant like Netflix or Amazon might net by licensing a special.
So, Schulz’ model is a bit un-treaded here with the PPV model, and its success – both creatively and monetarily – will be an important weathervane for the future of comedy specials. If Schulz succeeds it may provide yet another path for more comedians to bypass gatekeepers and directly deliver the specials they want to their fans. If it fails, it will help to show the stranglehold streaming platforms have on comedy specials.
That’s not to say that the fate of comedy hangs in the balance with this one special. But it will be interesting to see if more comedians follow suit, and if this particular gamble pays off.