Spain’s comedy clubs are in such dire straits that they’re now charging patrons per laugh…
Dating websites charge you for each match, online advertisers pay-per-click, and we pay-per-drop for petrol…and LSD.
Very soon, I imagine, we’ll be paying-per-view for YouTube cat videos, per-perve for porn and every time we want to get our own money out of our very own bank accounts, we’ll be paying for that too.
What an outrage!
It’d be far easier if we went back to paying for everything in liquor, which was the first official currency of Australia. Until we drank it all.
We’re turning into a user-pays society…so why not have a comedy club where you pay-per-laugh?
That’s exactly what’s happened at the Teatreneu Club in Barcelona, Spain.
(As opposed to Barcelona, Venezuela, or Barcelona Way on the Gold Coast, Queensland.)
Anyway, facial recognition software has been built into tablet computers attached to the back of each chair and it notes each time a person laughs during a show.
There’s no mention, unfortunately, of how a person is charged if they’ve already got a funny looking face.
Apparently, each laugh costs you around 40 cents and patrons can only be billed a maximum of $30 for the evening.
This is all the Spanish government’s fault. They increased the taxes on theatrical shows from 8 to 21 percent back in 2012, so the clubs had to do something.
Now, I often don’t make predictions in these articles, but watch this:
“Pay-per-laugh comedy clubs will have spread around the world by 2016.”
I put it in quote marks, because you can quote me on that.
Comedy clubs around the world are struggling big time.
Thanks to YouTube, television comedy specials and even comedy festivals, fewer and fewer people are actually going to comedy clubs.
People also used to think “comedy” meant “funny”.
However, thanks to shows like The Big Bang Theory, Two and Half Men and any Adam Sandler movie made after the year 2000, many people now think “comedy” means “extremely unfunny”.
So I work as a comedian and I can tell you that many comedy clubs in Australia, the UK and USA fill their rooms by charging nearly nothing, or nothing at all.
People just aren’t as willing to pay to go to comedy clubs anymore.
This concept has shown that they are willing to pay, however, if they laugh.
Here’s the big problem with this concept.
Ask anyone why they go to a comedy show. It’s not for the overpriced drinks or the ease of parking. It’s to laugh.
This concept encourages people to not do the thing that they’ve gone to that specific place to specifically do.
That’s like a bar that doesn’t want you to drink, a racetrack that won’t take your bets, or a reality TV star that won’t do absolutely everything they’re told in front of the camera.
Or a peep show that’s run out of tissues.
If I was performing at a pay-per-laugh club, I’d never want to go on first. Put me on after most in the audience have reached their maximum laugh quota, so they aren’t holding back.
Actually, if I was being paid to perform, I’d go on wherever I was told to. It’s a paying gig, and I’m not an idiot.
The number one rule in comedy is not to make people think, entertain them, or have them question their political leanings. If you can do those things, as a comedian, that’s fantastic.
However, before you do anything else, you need to make them laugh.
A comedy club that encourages people NOT to do that is just really dumb.
There’s also the problem of comedians forgoing any of the aforementioned lofty goals, because they’re forced to wring out as many laughs as possible.
Thus reducing any possibility that comedy ever had of becoming an artform to zero…and making it entertainment solely for the lowest common denominator.
Apparently laughter is contagious and cliches are never wrong, so maybe it will work.
Also, it’ll mean all the seats at this comedy thingy will have iPads in them.
People love iPads.
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian
For speaking engagements, comedy performances, writing assignments and all other enquires: firstname.lastname@example.org