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Louis C.K.: Comic ditches Ticketmaster, sells $4.5M in tickets

Louis C.K. is selling every seat in every city for his upcoming standup comedy tour for a $45 flat rate, including sales tax. Tickets are only available through his website. It's been three days, and Louis C.K.'s tour is all but sold out. Is he changing the way we buy entertainment?

By Correspondent / June 28, 2012

Louis C.K. arrives at the Hollywood FX Summer Comedies Party in Los Angeles, California June 26, 2012. The actor and comedian has taken ticket prices for his upcoming standup tour into his own hands, making all tickets available for a $45 flat rate exclusively through his website. The results have been staggering, and his tour is all but sold out.

Gue Ruelas/Reuters

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One comedian is continuing his quest to provide laughs wholesale, making his performances and other content available only through a single channel at lowered prices. And it’s paying off big time.

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Louis Szekely, or Louis C.K., as he’s more commonly known, is one of the most popular standup comics in the US. His TV show “Louie,” which he writes, directs, and stars in, will premiere its third season tonight on FX. He’s won an Emmy for comedy writing and been nominated for several more, including Best Leading Actor in a Comedy Series last year.

But Louis C.K.’s biggest achievement to date might be how he’s taken control of selling his work. Earlier this week, the standup announced that tickets for his upcoming US tour, from October 2012 to February 2013, would only be sold through his website, louisck.com.  That means you can’t get them through Ticketmaster, StubHub, or any of the other big ticket retailers.

What’s more, all seats in all venues would go for a flat rate of $45, including state taxes. Processing fees, which generally drive ticket prices much higher than advertised, have been completely eliminated.

“Making my shows affordable has always been my goal but two things have always worked against that,” C.K. wrote in an open letter to fans announcing the tour.  “High ticket charges and ticket re-sellers marking up the prices. Some ticketing services charge more than 40% over the ticket price and, ironically, the lower I've made my ticket prices, the more scalpers have bought them up, so the more fans have paid for a lot of my tickets. By selling the tickets exclusively on my site, I've cut the ticket charges way down and absorbed them into the ticket price.”

But how to cope with scalpers, who buy up high-demand tickets to resell them at inflated rates? “You'll see that if you try to sell the ticket anywhere for anything above the original price, we have the right to cancel your ticket (and refund your money). This is something I intend to enforce.”

A quick eBay search turns up hundreds of scalpers’ results for tickets, including some for over $1,000. But on a Tuesday appearance on Bill Simmons’ podcast “The BS Report,” C.K. hinted that the bar codes on such tickets might not even work.

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