Louis C.K. famously disrupted the stand-up comedy scene in 2011 when he taped his special, “Live at the Beacon,” not for a cable network, but for the Internet–where he sold it at $5 a pop. In-demand comics such as Jim Gaffigan and Aziz Ansari followed suit with some success, but many other comedic deities tend to hit a wall in getting the kind of exposure for their work that may help catapult them to such vaulted heights. Adam Frucci is here to help.
Frucci is a comic performer and the founder of Splitsider. In two and a half years of existence, Splitsider has become an indispensable source of comedy-related news, features, and, increasingly, original content. On April 24, the website established a new platform called Splitsider Presents, a “digital distribution label” that will offer up original movies, documentaries, and stand-up specials, all for the familiar price of $5. Users are entitled to multiple DRM-free downloads and also in-browser streams. Worthy comedic projects with no practical means of reaching an audience now just may have a place to call home.
“Kickstarter has produced a lot of movies that have no place to go, but have already been funded,” Frucci says. “So it’s a natural place for Kickstarter-funded movies and self-financed ones.”
The site’s creator has been talking to filmmakers about contributing projects to stock the store, and he’s also asked a handful of stand-ups about working to produce specials. It’s an attractive offer too; because Splitsider is selling directly, with no other partners, it’s giving the majority of each piece’s sales back to its creators.
Any project that fits in with the sensibility that the website has established is fair game. First up is the film, The Exquisite Corpse Project, a quasi-documentary that follows the sketch group Olde English as they embark upon making a movie in a most unusual way.
It’s a film about comedy, collaboration, and how your comedy sausage is made–all major touchstones of Splitsider’s m.o. It also ultimately became the catalyst for the website’s new content outpost.
“I saw the movie, loved it, and they were talking about trying to find an interesting way to distribute it,” Frucci says. “I looked into the possibility of opening a store like this, and it just all kind of fell into place.”
The falling-into-place process took about a year. Frucci ended up using Version Industries, the company that created Louis C.K.’s website, to build the video platform. It’s easily Splitsider’s most ambitious effort since establishing its own podcast network last fall–giving voices like MTV’s Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer further outreach under the Splitsider banner and introducing new fans to the underexposed likes of Left Handed Radio.
Splitsider Presents appears to be the next logical step in the website’s mission to not only report on comedy, but also to nurture it and contribute more of it.
“It’s just about finding and delivering the kind of comedy we like,” Frucci says. “On the blog, we share the best stuff that we like, and I want to do something similar with the store.”