I've been a fan of Aziz for a long time- I'll be buying.
But really, musicians have been doing the equivalent - selling albums at a flat/reasonable rate - on Bandcamp for years now. For most of them, being on a label is more about getting exposure in the right channels (getting reviewed on high profile sites, being in premier showcases, etc.) and showing that they live up to curated tastses, which is more difficult than the comedy world.
Exposure seems easier in comedy. A comedian can generate/distribute brand new material (jokes) on twitter or on a podcast at a clip that musicians can't compete with. Subjectively, there seems to be fewer comedians than bands, which is more amicable to cooperation.
Comedians just seem more... entrepreneurial. It would be interesting whether it's because there's less structure (existing or required) in the comedy world, or because comedy attracts more independent performers.
1. As a comedian, you have no choice BUT to get creative. Nobody is going to give you stage time as a no-name comic so your choices are either (booked) open mics or starting your own show.
2. There isn't an "agent" culture for comics like there is for bands or actors. You write your own material. You're alone on stage. You're alone every step of the way.
3. The money stinks as a comic. I can remember being paid for a show in food. FOOD. And there were limits on what I could order. At a mexican restaurant. Since there isn't a lot of money in comedy shows, every dollar you spend on getting to/from a show or paid to someone to help you book a show is almost a eat-or-pay-rent type of decision. If you go to a comedy show, buy a CD from the comic after the show. It's likely that 5 CD's sold puts more money in the pocket of the comic than whatever they earned from the club.
4. Finding another comic to share expenses is almost a losing proposition from the start. Unless you're on stage together as part of an act, it's impossible. Only headline acts can bring their own opener/feature and you aren't a headline act.
SO, to sum up, the money stinks in comedy, you can't easily achieve scale, and you need to be your own writer/agent/booker/show-runner to make a living.
To paraphrase: your first 100 jumps off the board count if you hit water.
I think we do way too much stifling as a society as it is, and a lot of that has to do with people who gave up on their dreams for a safe existence justifying their decision by ridiculing others who dare to take risks.
I think the biggest factor is the mechanics of the showbusiness industry. The top people earn most (90%) of the potential revenue. The rest get the remainder.
Stand up doesn't require much in the way of production value.
The live performers with a rep can cover a lot of production cost by selling tickets, then the video income can be mostly gravy.
'not much' for a 'decent' sounding album
This seems to be the rule in most cases. However, some exceptions include:
1. Radiohead - "In Rainbows" -- Was recorded independently by Radiohead and released under a "Pay what you want" basis along with a hard copy that included a vinyl hardcopy and CD.
2. Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero (2007)-- This album was released by Reznor as a free digital download and Reznor also released the master tracks and encouraged remixes of the work.
3. Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts 1-5 / The Slip -- Reznor released these under the "Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike" license.
These acts obviously did not get popular from releasing their music for free, but set an important precedent for releasing artistic content DRM-free.
YZ was actually the last album in Reznor's contractual obligation to Interscope. He leaked a number of tracks as part of the accompanying ARG, but the album itself wasn't free. I seem to remember him having to jump through a number of hoops to get the masters released, as well.
Also: keep in mind that Saul Williams had attempted a pay-what-you-want model with the Reznor-produced The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! prior to any of the other releases you mentioned.