Jim Gaffigan decided to release his 75-minute special, “Mr. Universe,” on his website for $5 — no digital encryption, no restrictions. It’s a model shared notably by Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari, but Gaffigan says they all came to the same conclusion at the same time: “Let’s get the product directly to the people who enjoy it for a lower price.”
This is Gaffigan’s eighth album (some of which were also televised specials) and by far his most financially successful (additionally, his live shows have grossed $6.2 million this year). He made back his operating cost within the first week of its release. Three months later, he sold the rights to Netflix for “an ungodly amount of money,” as he puts it, before giving the rights to Comedy Central, which turned it into a CD and DVD.
To reward those who placed their faith in him, Gaffigan donated 20% of his earnings to the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which helps wounded veterans. “I didn’t want to replace supposed corporate greed with my greed,” he says. “This is not a money-making exercise. Comedians are small-business owners, and this year reaffirmed that I have to be in charge of my small business.”