"A handful of top-tier performers have begun producing stand-up specials on their own, posting them online and selling them directly through their personal Web sites, eliminating the editorial control of broadcasters and the perceived taint of corporate endorsements.
The turning point arrived in December, when the comedian Louis C. K. released a stand-up special, “Live at the Beacon Theater,” that was sold only as a $5 download, without electronic copy protection, from his Web site
. Louis C. K., who stars in the FX series “Louie” and has performed in comedy specials on HBO, Showtime and Epix, said that he was seeking minimal outside interference and maximum ease for his audience.
The experiment worked: produced at a cost of $250,000, “Live at the Beacon Theater” sold more than 220,000 downloads and grossed over $1.1 million
— enough for Louis C. K. to give $250,000 in bonuses to his crew and donate a further $280,000 to charities. Other comedians following Louis C. K.’s online trail say that they have been contemplating Internet-only projects for several months."