Louis C.K. Shows How An Artist Can Fuck Scalpers

Comedian Louis C.K. has always been a fan-friendly artist who has become extremely successful and rich while not trying to gouge his supporters for every last dime. He’s about to embark on a lengthy tour in which all tickets cost $45 inclusive of fees and service charges and are only available through his website. Now that he’s a huge concert draw he’s run into a problem that affects many live acts of his stature – the secondary ticketing market. Unlike most of those acts Louie has found a way to fight back.

In an interview with Terry Gross that aired on yesterday’s episode of NPR’s Fresh Air, the comedian explained the enjoyment he gets out of successfully screwing with scalpers…

GROSS: Yeah. How does scalping work nowadays?

C.K.: I don’t know everything about it, but here’s what I know. There’s people who have a setup. They have, like – you know, some ticket companies say you can only buy a certain amount of tickets. So they have, like, you know, a thousand credit cards and they have either highly manned or automated systems where they’re sitting there with their credit cards ready because they know the tickets are going on sale at 10 AM…

GROSS: I see.

C.K.: …exactly whatever it is. August 4th, 10 AM, tickets to this show are going on sale. The guy’s sitting there with, like, 50 people on phones, and they immediately start buying…

GROSS: I see.

C.K.: …or on the Internet. And then they have those tickets. That’s their currency. And they sit there – it’s like a commodity. They mark it up and up and up as the show gets closer. And all we did was not tell anybody when it was going on sale. We also – we hired two people who used to be scalpers…


C.K.: …who figured out credit card patterns, and whenever we find a ticket that was bought by a scalper, we contact them and we tell them this ticket has been moved to Will Call, which means you have to show up in person as the ticket buyer with the credit card to pick up the ticket. You can’t print it at home. And so that ruins that person’s ability to sell it.

So every time we’ve done that, the scalper starts yelling and cursing at us, and they say scalping’s not illegal, man. And we go, well, I know. We’re just beating you because it’s fun and we like to get our – that ticket now gets to go to a fan for $45. You know, we just saved somebody $200. So it’s fun. I like doing this.

And also, when I first announced the tour in the press, I told people you shouldn’t buy scalper tickets, because they may be deactivated by the time you get to the show because we have the power to do that. And that really hurt the scalper market a lot, just the perception that our tickets are not – may not be good.

GROSS: All right. Louis C.K. fights back.

Amazing! Did we mention we love Louis C.K.? Read or listen to the entire interview to hear Louie discuss how he prices tickets for his concerts, the scourge that are ticketing fees and much more.

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22 Responses

  1. Do your research Scott. First you claimed Axl was doing his first TV interview in 20 years, yet he was on TV last year promoting his tour (see: THE METAL SHOW). Secondly, do some research on the NEW YORK TRANSFERABILITY ACT of 2010. What Louis C K is doing in NY is against the law, you have to allow transferability, regardless of whether you want to or not. He is gonna take it on the chin, and again…..you didnt research your article, you just posted it as fast as possible. He also didn’t sell the tickets on his website, he sold them on etix.com. The last time I checked, he didn’t own or have anything to do with etix.com. Such a fail of an article.

    1. I love you too Stamps. My biggest fan!

      a. I said “live” televised interview for Axl

      b. https://buy.louisck.net/

      “Tickets for this tour are available EXCLUSIVELY here on louisck.com.”

      But hey, keep up the good fight shitting on people who put themselves out there and don’t hide behind an alias. God speed, Stamps.

  2. Great article & a great campaign Louie’s on. The only issue I have is if you didn’t catch the onsale in time, you snoozed & you lost… and I was one of those people.

  3. I love Louis for attempting to fight back, but as any econ student will tell you, event tickets (without resale) are inefficient markets.

    Think about it – when you score tix to Phish @ the Greek through mail order, you’re instinct is “Yes! What a great deal!”

    Hate to be a devils advocate, but if acts charged MORE, scalpers would find less margin for markup.

    Other option is Transferability with Accountability. At Penn State football games back in the dizay, you had to buy a transfer stamp to give/sell to someone else who wasn’t a student.

    Hear me out here – You’ve got to get your Facebook account verified, the buyer has to get their facebook account verified, etc. Ticket is in your iphone passbook/whatever android has, and computers work out who you are. Gate agent just scans your phone per normal.

    Somewhat far fetched to implement tomorrow (not everyone has a smartphone, etc.), but think big people.

    1. Damn, we got an econ student here. Louis better listen to him if he wants to continue to be rich and successful. Oh, wait.

  4. Transferability is key. Here’s an example. I bought tix to see Louie on Oct 26th. Trey announced a few weeks later that he is playing the same night. I wanted to sell my Louie tix and buy tix for another night since Trey is only in town for 1 night. I’d have no problem trading my tix even for another night. My only option was to buy tix on stubhub for $200 and sell my tix on stubhub for $200 so i can go to both events. I’m not a scalper, just trying to go for face value but forced to scalp.

    1. It says nothing about transferability not being allowed, it states that for the tickets flagged from a single credit card purchases, those would be held at will call. For those tickets and tickets alone, there won’t be hand bills. Purchases that are flagged ‘could’ be transferred, but purchaser would need to visit will call the day of the show with credit card in hand, to pick them up. This would be a pain for the scalper to actually accomplish re-sale, since everyone buying from secondary sources want their ticket in hand when purchasing.

  5. This seems like a lot of work when Will Call pickup with ID/credit card used to purchase tix would be just as, if not more, efficient in combating the problem (Phish Telluride?). If he truly enjoys messing with “scalpers,” and this is somehow legal, then more power to him.

    But it’s still not addressing the issue of people selling tickets for over face. So fans can do it, but ticket “brokers” can’t? What’s to stop someone from backing out on a show, realizing tix are selling for 3x face on stubhub, and selling/pocketing the difference?

    This seems more like an attack on the business of scalping as opposed to the practice.

  6. It’s funny how Phish encourages this behavior. Lets not announce webcasts of “sold out” shows until a week before. Sad.

  7. Phish does NOT cencourage the sale of tickets over face value. Phish does encourage the community to exchange and sell their tickets amongs eachother without mark up.

  8. Did we mention we love Scott Bernstein? Seriously though, Louis CK has been a genius for a long time, and it’s great he finally gets the success and recognition he deserves.


  9. LOL 😀 — it’s obvious who the scalpers are here. 🙂 Now for some reality:
    1) There’s nothing illegal requiring someone to physically show up to obtain the tickets they purchased.
    2) A lot of event venue owners don’t want to do ‘1’ because it means they have to hire people to staff the ticket booth(s) and all the people behind the scenes to run that activity. So they’re actually part of the problem.
    3) All artists know this so the ones who tolerate this are part of the problem.
    4) Scalpers are just using a loop hole in the law opened when a non-scalper successfully argued they were just trying to recoup revenue for tickets they could no longer use.
    5) Governments have known about this for I’ve lost track of how long it’s been.
    6) Anyone that doesn’t like this and wants to go to concerts can lobby / boycott those in points 2 to 5 until they change it. Either that, or shut up and grow up. 🙂
    7) Everyone in points 2 to 6 can argue all they want in Hell that they were ‘entitled’ and it’s not illegal because that’s where they’re going anyway. Have fun douche bags. 🙂

  10. How dare Louis C.K. sell his tickets directly to his fans and not please the noble and honourable scalpers who have an obvious God given right to profit off the desire of his fans to see his show !

  11. I haven’t had this problem at comedy shows, but I have a solution for theater MUSIC shows. Save your money and stay home! I recently heard Jimi Hendrix on an album asking his audience to PLEASE TAKE THEIR SEATS SO THE SHOW COULD RESUME. I also remember being at shows (sorry, can’t remember acts involved) and having the artists do the exact same thing back in the day. WHY DON’T ARTISIS TELL THEIR FANS TO SIT THE FUCK DOWN IN THE SEAT THEY PAID FOR ANYMORE? I’m now an old man with medical problems that prevent me from being able to stand more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. I recently paid $350 (NOT from a scalper…from a BOX OFFICE) for 2 tix…floor seats… to see Joe Walsh, a long-time favorite of mine. That was outrageous on and of itself, but I did it because I am such a fan. But what did i get to see for my money? Not Joe Walsh- but the asses of the people in the row in front of me, who stood- at their SEATS… standing up…allegedly doing something they would have called “dancing”. They were doing the “fat ass cheeks looking a lot like large jiggling bowl of Jello” dance. I may have caught a glimpse or two of Mr. Walsh…not quite what I had paid such an exorbitant price to see. Lots of people wete shouting “Sit down!” to the jiggling lunks, and I kept hoping Mr. Walsh would pick up on what was happening and do what I had heard Jimi do…ask his audience to sit in the seat they’d PAID for…or NO SHOW!!! Joe never picked up on it. That show did it for me. No nore theater music shows for this boy. For the price I paid, I should have at least been able to watch a shapely woman’s bare ass. These we ALL fat, clothed (thank God) men and women who obviously only care about themselves amd not others. So, I’m just keeping my money in my pocket and my blood pressure down from now on. Why are people so arrogant these days? CONSIDER WHAT AFFECT YOUR ACTIONS HAVE ON OTHERS AROUND YOU! WHY ARE YOU THAT SELF-ABSORBED? SPREAD LOVE-NOT HATE!!!

  12. It used to be first come, first served, limit of 10 tickets per person, and there was no internet back then, so everybody went to the war memorial or the dome and camped out for tickets the night before and had a blast. Musicians should go back to that, no internet sales, make sure the fans who are die-hard enough to stay up all night are the ones who get the best tickets. Crew crap like internet sales and credit cards and scalpers – they’re just middlemen, no better than thieves and corporations. Greed sucks.

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