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Louis C.K.: Social Media Trailblazer

How one comedian changes the funny business


Louis C.K.: Social Media Trailblazer

Louis C.K.

These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find a comedy fan who does not adore Louis C.K. Though C.K. has been paying his dues by performing stand-up comedy since the early 1980s, his career has really taken off over the past few years, and his unique, hands-on approach to managing his business and utilizing his social media presence is directly responsible for his success.

Louis C.K., an approachable curmudgeon-type who is known for his blunt, observational humor, maintains executive and creative control over every aspect of his juggernaut of a career. On his hit FX show, Louie, C.K. is the show’s writer, editor, director, and star.

If You Build It, They Will Come

C.K. has also built up a devoted online following, often spending entire evenings Tweeting back and forth with his fans, answering their questions, and sometimes even insulting them. He spent countless hours doing Q&A sessions on Reddit and other social sites, leading many people to feel a personal connection with the rising star.

Being Web-Savvy Pays Off

Once his massive social network was in place, C.K. did something that no other comedian had done before. He announced that he would be selling his hour-long comedy special, Live at the Beacon Theater, directly to his fans, without using an intermediary company that would heavily mark up the sales prices in order to cover their “service fees.”

Selling the comedy special for $5 on his own website earned C.K. $1 million in just twelve days. For his upcoming comedy tour, C.K. has taken a similar approach, selling tickets only on his website for just $45, cutting out hundreds of dollars in service fees from companies like Ticketmaster and Live Nation.

Fans Feel Connected

The result is that C.K. has been lauded by his fans not just for being a funny guy, but he has also earned their loyalty and respect. He’s not trying to line the pockets of faceless corporations or ask his fans to fork over a week’s salary just to see him perform live; he’s simply asking to be fairly compensated for an experience that he himself is creating for audiences.

C.K. Is a Trend-Setter

Fellow comedians are paying attention. Jim Gaffigan and Aziz Ansari have already followed suit, selling their own comedy specials to their fans directly from their websites for $5 a pop. More and more comics are working on growing their social media presence as well. Even older celebs like Steve Martin can now be found hobnobbing with the masses on his Facebook and Twitter pages, proving that it's never too late to embrace technology and connect with your fans on the more intimate level that social sites facilitate.
Knowing Your Audience
Getting to know your fans is not just a good idea because it makes fans happy, it's also helpful to have their support in case things go wrong. Daniel Tosh learned this lesson the hard way in 2012, when he faced backlash from critics who claimed he told off-color jokes about rape. Tosh's fans rallied behind him, vouched for his character, and ultimately helped the comedian become more popular than ever in spite of the bad press. Matthew Inman, creator of webcomic, The Oatmeal, found that he could make sizable charitable donations simply by directing his fans towards a good cause and using fund raising site IndieGoGo to gather the cash. Social networking is becoming a truly powerful and profitable proposition. As C.K. himself says on his site, “By selling the tickets exclusively on my site, I've cut the ticket charges way down and absorbed them into the ticket price. To buy a ticket, you join nothing. Just use your credit card and buy the damn thing.”

Direct, honest, and to the point: Exactly what we have come to expect from America’s favorite comedian.
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