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Humble Comedy Bundle (humblebundle.com)
126 points by CrazedGeek on Aug 28, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 59 comments

For those who have not heard it, the Tig Notaro special is the one covered extensively by NPR and various news outlets, after Louis CK declared it one of the "truly great, masterful standup sets". The set famously opens with her revealing to the audience that she was just diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer.


I've only seen a couple sets by Tig, but this set and the Louis CK set alone make it worth the 5-10 dollars for the bundle.

As a side note, it's great to see Humble Bundle expanding into new types of content.

I need to offer an alternative point of view.

It's a great set, but it's not as legendary as people seem to want to make it out to be. I think there is an element of "you had to be there" that is missing in an audio recording, and people genuinely want to feel what Louis C.K. did when he first shared news of the performance with his followers.

As someone who is an avid consumer of standup (old and new), and a huge Louis C.K. fan my expectations were set too high, and I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I could've because I was expecting something legendary and timeless.

Not to build it up too much, but Live is one of the more remarkable performances I've ever heard. Unbelievably tragic, visceral and funny. Not to be missed.

Came here to say the same thing. Tig's performance alone makes this worth purchasing. Truly unforgettable.

Wow! Tig, as in Tig the lesbian police officer Sarah Silverman tries to seduce in an episode of the Sarah Silverman Show? She even used her own name, which I thought was something fictional. I had no idea she was an accomplished comedian, as this is the only time I have seen her in television, and she was purposely not so funny in that episode (maybe two or three).


Very interesting to rediscover actors and actresses who succeed in anti-typecasting themselves. I would never have suspected she was a standup comedian, as she was the only character I had never seen before in that show.

Thank you for pouring me a piping hot cup of Tig! (Reference to the episode, see the link.)

I feeel like Humble Bundle is sort of becoming like Woot! The more it branches out, the more successful it is, and less relevant to me it is...

If anyone wants data on whether Humble Bundle is more or less successful, a list of their sales and the amount raised is available here:


Yeah, it's feeling less and less "humble" these days (imho, of course).

To me, the 'humble' has always been the

1) pay what you want

2) donate part (as much of you want of that) to charities

As long as they keep these I think a bit of diversity and exploration helps grow the space. Maybe some other organizations could get involved as well.

Humble also made sense because it was supporting indie games makers. Now, not so much.

I guess they're branching out, but it still falls under the umbrella of "creative digital content" - whether it be games, comedy specials, music, etc.

Are the game bundles not relevant to you anymore due to expansion?

As someone who bought all the first several "Indie" bundles, the most recent games bundles have been completely irrelevant to me. They're just collections of slightly out of date AAA titles from a major studio at a flexible price. The most recent "Origin" bundle was just an insult to their ahem indie roots.

I used to feel similarly, until I heard that the Origin bundle raised $8.6 million for charity[0]. It's hard for me to see that as a bad thing, even if it does take their focus away from promoting indie games (which is debatable).

[0] http://www.joystiq.com/2013/08/23/origin-bundle-is-the-bigge...

I'm not going to complain about $8 million dollars going to charity, but even the slate of charities was conspicuously different. Nearly all other bundles include Child's Play and the EFF as the charities. For this Bundle, Electronic Arts must have insisted that they change to several much larger, mainstream charities instead.

That, combined with their clear intention of using this to promote Origin, left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

They had Watsi.org as a charity

The end game for the Origin bundle seems to have been "get a bunch of people to install Origin", which I suspect they were very successful at.

EA didn't get any money directly from the bundle sales.

At thirty bundles to date over a roughly three-year history, they've been averaging about one a month.

This site keeps track of DRM free comedy specials for $5 or less.


Cool site. Is it yours? Can you add e-mail subscriptions for new titles?


I've been nothing but impressed with this HumbleBundle team. We produced the Maria Bamford special at Chill (chill.com) and worked with them to make this part of the new Bundle. Of all the output deals we have done, they have been the most forward thinking, transparent and just plain easy going I've seen. And they even got me to drop $25 on this one.

Interesting that you can divide how the money is distributed to the artists. Is that new? Once upon a time for video games you could split dev/charity/tip but you could not control the split per dev. Am I mistaken?

A couple of bundles have allowed per-dev split, but not all of them.

Wow this is great, Patrice O'Neal is one of the best comedians of his generation.

I regret not hearing any of his stuff before he died, I was surprised at how amazing it was. Mr. P and Hannibal's album are both excellent.

For anyone curious, Patrice's special "elephant in the room" is on youtube.

Oh this is just a whole bag of yes! great (and long-running) standup shows are hard to find online. I even considered starting my own BitTorrent tracker just for old televised stand-up that never gets aired anymore. Sometimes I like going back and seeing "who made it" from the old HBO Young Comedians specials.

The 1995 Edition (Louis CK, Dave Attell, and Dave Chappelle among others[0]) is particularly excellent.

[0] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0777178/

I realize they must run tight margins with the prices they charge, but I keep craving a nice client for all this non-game content on my Android device - I have the eBook bundle and it's a bit of a rigamarole to get the ebooks into the Kindle app, and the Android bundle client doesn't even list the ebooks.

be patient. it's going to space.

This is an amazing bundle.

Patrice O'Neal sadly died a few years ago, but his comedy was still hilarious. Maria Bamford is great.

Hannibal Buress is probably one of my favorite rising comedians today.

The great thing about this bundle is that you can check out most of the comedians on YouTube, but I definitely recommend buying it.

Maria Bamford is excellent too. The "Maria Bamford Show" YouTube series she did a few years back is hilarious: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL07FAAF5582CDD8A6

This is not "pay what you want" anymore.

Unlike their initial "pay what you want" culture, now they are basically giving away few free stuff to encourage you to buy their paid stuff.

Not really, you can still pay what you want for the content, they just offer an incentive to meet a threshold. Note that you can still direct the entire amount that you pay the way you choose, so you could donate the entire purchase if you wanted.

Also,"beat the average" has always been a gimmick they use, back to humble bundle 1. Its not a new mechanic they've introduced.

I've already bought Louis CK's show directly from his site. Is the beat the avg worth it for the Patrice O'Neal shows?

I wouldn't say so, but Tig Notaro's Live I would consider worth beating the average for standalone (even though you don't have to).

K, thanks. I've definitely heard excellent thing about Live (mostly via NPR.)

It seems that the 'bigger is badder' mentality has snuck its way into this discussion as well.

The Humble Bundle allows its customers to donate every penny they spend and promotes up and coming artists. Why would its success be anything but favorable if neither of these characteristics have changed?

Humble Bundle originally caught my eye with the "curation" aspect, but now that there are so many "humble bundles" it seems like I need to sift through all the options myself. I may as well just find what I want to buy and buy it directly (and donate to the EFF directly as well).

I've never watched Louis CK, so I'm might take a look at this. I've only heard good things about him.

I've always preferred British comedy over all others though, so I was a little disappointed not to see the likes of Dara 'O Briain or Michael McIntyre.

I'm British, I'm very much in to my comedy, I reckon we Brits do the best comedy, and....... I cannot begin to recommend Louis CK enough.

For me, he is one of the best of his generation, including any one we Brits have. I personally see a lot of "British" in his humor and over all act. I think most British comedy fans, and fans of British comedy, would warm to him with in 5 to 10 minuets.

Best of all though, is his whole attitude to getting his work out there, and doing it himself. He takes risks, and does so with his own money. As a result, he controls his own work, and his success rests purely on that. Of course he got well paid, and well deserved, breaks. But he used that to finance his own thing, his way. He seems to just earn money so that he can fund his next project, and keep his creative ball rolling. He even published the finances of his online DVD experiment.

Anyway, don't take my word for it, youtube has loads of his stuff. Give it half an hour and see what you think. You may well think he is a load of crap, after all, you do seem to like Michael McIntyre....... ;)

(For those who dont know, Michael McIntyre is the comedian who other comedians love to have a dig at because his is hugely successful. Its the usual "sell out" and "old jokes" ribbing that goes on. Truth is of course, MM is a very clever highly honed and polished act that has mass middle appeal, and as a result makes shed loads of cash as he appeals to the masses, and sells. Of course, artistically, he is dumbed down mass appeal pulp, but IMHO, that is as valid as challenging fringe appeal. I suppose pop music compared to jazz!!! Or.... MM is MS Windows compared to Linux... )

Thanks for the detailed answer, I'll have a look on youtube.

Is Humble Bundle the new Groupon?

No, because its mathematically impossible for the participants to be driven into bankruptcy. Also, unlike groupon, humble bundle so far has not offered astrology readings, car detailing, and massages (edited to add, that's all groupon has ever offered in my area, depending where you live its possible they offered "real" stuff where you live)

>>> No, because its mathematically impossible for the participants to be driven into bankruptcy.

...Ok, I'll bite, why is it mathematically impossible?

Because the marginal cost of digital distribution is next to nothing. While it costs Starbucks a few dollars for them to give you a cup of coffee, it might cost a couple pennies for bandwidth (on Humble's end) to sell another copy of a digital movie.

True, I suppose that once they have recouped their fixed costs and development/production costs, this would be the case.

So HB a good method for generating demand/revenue once you've crossed that point, but not so before.

Regardless of if you've passed your fixed cost point or not, once you've exhausted the market for people willing to pay $25 for, say, Little Inferno, then you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by clearing the market again, this time at a lower price, until you hit the humble bundle and people who wouldn't send you $10 are sending you $5.

As an overall business or project you may or may not end up with a net profit when its all done, but your figures will only improve if the marginal cost of sale is zilch and you can clear the market yet again at a lower price.

Someday someone will invent a working microtransaction system (LOL people have been saying that forever) and all this HB stuff will hit it again for ten cents each (Hey, ten cents times ten million sales isn't all that bad for a days work, and sales always increase as price drops, so I could see it...)

Sure, but this is true for any product, and has nothing to do with it being mathematically impossible to go bankrupt on Humble Bundle.

If you haven't covered your fixed/dev costs, and if you misjudge the market quantity demanded at each price points, you could easily drive yourself to bankruptcy by running a Humble Bundle.

The only way Humble Bundle makes it "mathematically impossible" to go bankrupt (which was the claim I was disputing) is if they present you with a perfect demand schedule and then somehow align the price each person pays to that demand schedule, without letting anyone pay above or below their reservation price. Whoever figures this out is probably not going to just use it for independent pay what you want gaming sales.

Haha yes, massage therapy definitely isn't a "real" service.

Well, I wrote "real stuff" as in I've heard you can get food on groupon in some places and "things" but all we have locally is overpriced services marked down to a realistic price.

Massage therapy isn't real stuff because you can mark the price to anything you want, then groupon it 75% off. So if a realistic charge for massage is $25/hr (I donno) then you mark up to $100/hr and groupon it for 75% off net $25/hr.

The bankruptcy stories all come from restaurants selling 100K steaks (hundred kilosteaks?) for $1 where the raw uncooked meat alone is $5. Whoops.

What is a fair price for the valuable service of astrological readings? Hard to say when its pure profit unless it involves sacrificing live chickens as part of the act or something like that. I suppose there's always a real estate cost at the bottom if nothing else.

> No, because its mathematically impossible for the participants to be driven into bankruptcy.

Well, buying a humble bundle is a potential opportunity cost for each comedian. If someone buys a humble bundle, they are most likely not going to buy whatever show that comedian offered in some other format in addition. Something like a humble bundle could in theory be such an opportunity cost for a comedian that he cannot recoup the production cost of a show because of it.

Or is only the marginal cost of distribution a factor in this idea of "mathematical impossibility"? Is that the only variable that influences a potential bankruptcy?

I don't know about comedy, but they recently offered a "Humble ebook bundle", which included the first novels of different series. It's a great way to find out if you like the series and want to purchase more. Just like it's a good way of purchasing games, and I'll gladly pay much more than the average to support indies. I think it has really worked out both for sellers, buyers and Humble Bundle so far.

About one Internet generation ago a paper sci fi (real scifi, not like TV "sy fy") publisher called Baen had the same exact business model except with cdroms.

It worked. I hear it worked very profitably.

As an anecdote I blew a lot of money with them after reading the first novel or whatever. Also gained a couple new authors I still like.

There's probably a startup opportunity in other areas where "the first hit is free" works pretty well. Someone should try it with TV shows.

If it's any testament, Baen is still around and has quite a few free books on their website.

Its easy to run a groupon for a real physical product where you lose money on each individual transaction, and if you make enough transactions such that X*Y exceeds the net worth of the company, its toast.

Its not possible, so far as I know, to get an individual transaction net loss from a humble bundle, so make one sale or a billion its not possible to end up a net negative much less a negative greater than the net worth of the sponsoring company. If you want to see something funny, try typing in a custom amount on a humble bundle less than $1. You get a pop up graphic and she doesn't look amused. This would imply to me that CC processing/amazon processing costs less than $1 for a $1 transaction.

I don't think the potential sales loss exists unless you put a new product on HB. No one does that, its always something older. Frankly a "fan" of these comedians would have bought it a long time ago, so all thats going to happen is they'll get a small stack of cash and a bunch of new fans. Which is cool.

No, for two reasons.

First, Humble Bundle scales. They can pull together a handful of artists to offer some MP3s, and sell it to the whole world. Groupon has to negotiate with small businesses in every market that they want to have a presence.

Secondly, the nature of the goods on offer is different, in that a restaurant or cafe has considerable marginal costs associated with each sale, whereas a comedian selling MP3s has no marginal costs, and even the Humble Bundle team has almost no marginal costs. The Humble Bundle team spends a few cents on bandwidth for each sale, and the artist only loses hypothetical future sales at a higher price.

(edit: pluralized "business")

> The Humble Bundle team spends a few cents on bandwidth for each sale

It should be significantly less than that.

From what I've seen, streaming a 1080p version of a 90-minute feature film is actually fairly significant in terms of CDN fees, unless you're at massive scale.

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