From music to movies to media, many businesses are leveraging technology in new ways. For the Laugh Factory, it is by launching an online label to offer downloadable videos of comics on stage. The label’s first release, available via YouTube and Amazon Prime, is “Laugh Factory Presents Raj Sharma Live from Las Vegas.”
Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada says that the Laugh Factory label differs from the typical stand-up special model, in which the label claims most of the profits. The Laugh Factory funds the production, he said, and takes only 20 percent of the sales. To Masada, it’s a way of continuing a Laugh Factory tradition of supporting emerging voices in stand-up comedy.
Masada was a comic when many L.A. stand-up artists went on strike to demand payment for their performances. Masada launched the Laugh Factory in a building once owned by Groucho Marx (whose ghost he likes to imagine hovering about), and he paid performers a cut of the ticket sales.
“We have a passion to help young comedians,” Masada said.
In the early days of the business, Masada slept in Laugh Factory chairs and showered at the gym. He didn’t have an apartment.
Since then, he’s come a long way—and so have many of the performers who graced the stage. Jim Carrey, Tim Allen and Eddie Murphy are a few of the performers who’ve stepped up to the mic in the comedy club. Now he hopes the Internet and the Laugh Factory label will allow wider audiences to connect with the art form, and with comics like Sharma.
Sharma, who’s from Texas, came to Los Angeles to pursue his stand-up career in 2011. “I do a lot of [material] about my parents and growing up,” he said. He also does observational humor, he said, and interacts with audiences a lot.
Sharma hasn’t yet seen figures for sales and downloads of his special—but he’s thrilled to be the first featured comic on the label. “It blew my mind,” he said. “I was just really honored to be the first do it.”