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Comedy Club Launches Pay-Per-Laugh Tickets

Sometimes it can feel as if we are paying a lot for performance tickets, especially if it turns out we didn’t enjoy the show as much as we were expecting to.

But a comedy club in Spain has come up with a novel way for customers to only pay for what they “use”, thanks to facial recognition software.

The Spanish government sharply raised the tax on theatre tickets from 8% to 21%, which caused ticket sales to fall dramatically and venues were finding that they weren’t making as much money.

After recording a drop in audience numbers of 30% in a single year, the Teatreneu club in Barcelona approached an advertising agency. The Cyranos McCann was asked if it could come up with a way of drawing more audience members in to raise ticket sales.

The agency developed an experiment which involved tablets being fitted onto the backs of the seats in the audience. These tablets are installed with facial recognition technology that is able to record when the spectator in the seat facing the tablet finds something funny.

Customers can enter the club for free, and each laugh – recorded on the tablet in front of them – is charged at €0.30 (24p). While you might be thinking that this could lead to a very expensive night out, there is actually a cap of how much the club charges per show, of €24 (£19) or approximately 80 laughs.

At the end of the performance, the audience member is able to see how much they have spent (and therefore how funny they found the show) and post the results to their social media profiles. This in itself provides free and realistic advertising for the performers in question without the standard “10 out of 10” or “five stars!” reviews.

Teatreneu has also launched a payment mobile app for audience members, as well as a pay-per-laugh season ticket.

The experiment launched in April and was so successful that the club decided to continue on with it. According to Teatreneu, the overall price for a ticket is actually up by €6 (£4.80) and there is an average of 35 more audience members per show. And because of the positive results, other theatres in Spain are launching similar schemes of their own.

There is an emerging interest in pay-per-laugh outside of Spain as well, and could become a great way for up-and-coming comedians to learn what works for the audience. Pay-per-laugh: a great way for comedy-show customers to really get what they pay for.


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