His new special might be called "A Little Unprofessional," but the way in which Ron White is releasing it has quickly become the preferred distribution model for professional comedians.
The former "Blue Collar Comedy Tour" comic has jumped on the direct-to-fan bandwagon by selling his new, 80-minute stand-up special online for $5 in lieu of working with a television network. After comedians such as Louis C.K., Jim Gaffigan, Rob Delaney, Aziz Ansari and more have had various degrees of success with selling their specials online, White is perhaps being the most industrious about it. In addition to the $5 DRM-free download, he's also selling packages costing as much as $100 that include VIP tickets to his show and other perks.
White spoke to The Huffington Post on today's release of the special, calling it the "strongest, longest and cheapest" show he's ever produced. Hear what he had to say about the special and more in the Q&A below:
HuffPost Comedy: What made you decide to do a direct-to-fan special this time around?
Ron White: It's just the changing face of distribution in this country. It turns out everybody with a Mac is now a recording studio and, you know, most households have the ability to download stuff so I can bypass a distributor and a retailer and offer it for five bucks instead of whatever they charge. I don’t set the price at Walmart but I set it here, so for $5 they can get a special that's a half hour longer than anything I’ve ever released.
HPC: You joke in a preview video for the special that no one is friends with the cable company. Do you think that most comedians should start cutting out the middle men?
RW: I think you have to have some level of fame before it works because you've got to be able to tell people it’s online. So luckily I’m big enough that folks at The Huffington Post will take my call. I’m not saying it’s for everybody but for people with a name big enough to get press than I think it's a great way to do it.
HPC: Louis C.K. and other comics who have had success with the online format this year are not exactly "blue collar" comics. Do you think your audience will respond to the online model as well as theirs have?
RW: You know there may be a bit of a learning curve but if somebody doesn’t know how to download something off the Internet they can just grab the nearest twelve-year-old and they’ll show you how to do it. Louis C.K. kind of came up with the business model, I mean other people have done it but it hasn’t always been successful. We’re going to drop it in stores in November anyway so this is just a chance to buy it early and cheap if you want.
HPC: I know you’re not exactly a political comic but since we're in the thick of the election, is there any topical material on "A Little Unprofessional?"
RW: I would guess almost none and I’ll tell you why: I don’t get my comedy from television. And the reason I don’t is cause there’s about nine million comedians that do it and then every talk show has twenty comedy writers starting at that same television. So, if that’s where you go for content it’s gonna be a little tired by the time it gets to the stage. Letterman, Ferguson and Leno and Fallon are gonna be doing jokes about it that night because they all have rooms full of writers staring at the same TV shows, so I think your comedy should come from somewhere else if you’re a big stand-up comic.
HPC: I know you've joked about your marijuana arrest and the pre-sale price for this special was a tongue-in-cheek $4.20. Do you consider yourself to be a pot comic?
RW: No, not at all. I’m just a comedian who smokes pot. Some of my fans do, some of ‘em don’t. I couldn’t care less. Now, I am a marijuana advocate, but that’s really got nothing to do with my show. I talk about it, but I do that because I just try to be very, very honest in my show. I try to be exactly who I am in real life and I find that’s what audiences respond to, when you’re true to your nature.
HPC: Do you ever plan on reuniting with the Blue Collar Comedy Tour guys again?
RW: They tour without me quite a bit so I'm out of it. I mean, I would definitely get together with them for charity and I love ‘em all, but outside of that I think it’s run its course for me.
"A Little Unprofessional" can be purchased on RonWhiteSpecial.com