Louis CK stands up to Ticketmaster

Guy walks into a bar and says “a pint please.”

“That’ll be four quid plus the booking fee.”

Not a classic rib-tickler, really. They say you get what you pay for, but not always.The booking fee is like a service charge without the waiter making small talk or bringing you an extra free roll.

As high as an eye-watering eight quid in some places, this scandalous abuse of trust and power makes any responsible gig-goer chime to the same chorus – Thank Goodness for the Touts.

Thank goodness, too, for Louis CK.

CK (real surname Szekely) cut his teeth writing for Conan O’ Brien and Chris Rock, before rising to become one of America’s top stand-ups.

He had elevated his status to the extent he recently made up a four-ball with Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Ricky Gervais for a recent HBO (Sky Atlantic here)special on what makes funny.

Last year, funny ha ha was supplemented by a career move that was funny strange. After establishing his own Emmy-festooned sitcom, Louis, he took a chance with his tour.

Instead of selling his latest stand-up set to a channel for a comedy special, he sold it online for fans for $5, relying on their honesty.

In more than 12 days, he made more than $1m.The next step this year was braver, braver even than his routines which concern taking on his two year-old daughter in a fight, or on 9/11.

He took on Ticketmaster. Selling direct to fans in 39 cities in the US meant non-contracted Ticketmaster venues missed out – or, as Szekely told fans, “becauseyour town sucks.”

This score just in – Ticketmaster 0 Louis CK 1.

The ticket scalpers failed to score too, on tickets which would normally retail for around $110. Other comics Jim Gaffigan and AzizAnsari soon followed his lead.

The next step will be visiting those towns where Ticketmaster hold the monopoly. http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/MagSitePages/Article.aspx?id=5924
Louis CK has seemingly succeeded where Pearl Jam failed.

In the mid-’90s, the Seattle grungesters, then one of, if not the biggest band in the States, tried to take on Ticketmaster by keeping their prices down to under $20 a show. They filed a complaint to the Justice Department and it all went the way to Congress but eventually, the lack of support from other bands and venues, who were quite happy with their cosy relationship with the ticketing companies.

If bands thought going independent and taking on the major labels was tough, it’s nothing to taking on the major agencies.But where the drums, bass, guitar and vocals feared to tread, one man with a collection of jokes may have shown others the way to go.

A near-two decades after Baddiel and Newman filled Wembley Arena,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vIs92Q8kTE Peter Kay, Kevin Bridges,
Michael McIntyre and several others are filling night after night inthe O2, the SECC, the MEN arena and the other enormodomes, thosevenues might seem less important than the numbers they can reach without Ticketmaster’s help.

If that happened, comedy wouldn’t be the new rock’n’roll, it would succeed where much of rock’n’roll has failed. If Eddie Izzard can play the Hollywood Bowl, do a tour in French and another in a dress, he could probably pack out venues not approved by Ticketmaster. Plenty comics could. Just don’t open with…

Did you hear the one about the e-ticket with a “handling charge”?