It’s no secret that comedians have been turning more toward Youtube to stream their comedy specials. In a recent episode of the We Might Be Drunk podcast, hosts Sam Morril and Mark Normand were joined by Stavros Halkias and the conversation quickly turned to this new way of releasing a special.
Comedians for years have been shunning the larger streaming platforms and turning to releasing it independently. Sometimes this is a creative decision such as it was for Andrew Schulz, whose decision to buy back his special from a streamer and release it from his website was to avoid them cutting out his jokes.
Other comedians have also done this in the past, including Louis C.K., who has been releasing specials straight to his website for years. Releasing it independently gives the comedian greater creative control, but of course it also comes with its own risks. For one thing, releasing it yourself means you are no longer relying on any advertising or clout that comes from a stand up special showing up on a big streamer.
And if you aren’t working with a streamer, the costs of producing the special fall entirely upon you. What’s interesting about the conversation on the latest episode of We Might Be Drunk is that Morril, Normand, and Halkias have been some of the biggest comedians to release a special straight to Youtube, without putting them behind a paywall.
Halkias is still riding off the high of the success of his first special, Live at the Lodge Room, which was posted straight to his Youtube channel. The show was viewed two million times in the first two weeks, and currently sits just over 2.8 million views.
This new model is clearly a risk, mainly because there is relatively little precedent for it. Despite this, Halkias says, “it’s turned out to be, all of you guys doing it and then me doing it has turned out to be the best thing for our careers.”
The comedians partially attribute this to the ease of accessibility that a Youtube release gives. Almost anyone who has an internet connection can view their special for free. Additionally, unlike with big streaming platforms a Youtube release guarantees people all over the world have access to a comedian’s special. “There’s no blackouts,” Halkias said. “Anyone in the world can see it.”
On the flipside, the easy accessibility allows for nothing to curated since pretty much anyone can released a special on Youtube, possibly diluting great specials with many mediocre ones. Morril related how he immediately turned to Youtube after finding out his special wouldn’t be picked up by a streamer. It might be that this becomes the new standard, as some streaming giants become less willing to shell out money for comedy specials.