Louis C.K. explains ‘Horace and Pete’ secrecy, plus that $5/episode price

On Saturday morning, with absolutely no advance fanfare, or even explanation, Louis C.K. released Horace and Pete, a 67-minute filmed play with a cast that included himself, Steve Buscemi, Alan Alda, Edie Falco, and Jessica Lange. It was an achievement as impressive for the surprise of it, and the lack of detail, as for the quality of the performances by Alda and everyone else. C.K. didn’t even offer a clue about when, or if, there might be more installments.

That changed today, when he sent out a message to fans on the LouisCK.net mailing list, which finally offered a bit of insight about the design behind the series and plans for its future.

About the surprise release, for instance, he explained, “As a TV watcher I”m always delighted when I can see a thing without knowing anything about it because of the promotion. So making this show and just posting it out of the blue gave me the rare opportunity to give you that experience of discovery.”

He also noted that the filming style allows the episodes to be produced very close to when they’re released (the next one, which he’s shooting now, will be available on Saturday), but spent most of his time responding to the same question I saw a lot of in the comments: why did this cost $5, when most TV episodes cost much less to download?

Here’s the bulk of his explanation:

Okay so let”s talk for a minute about the five dollars of it all. If you”re on this email list then you”re probably aware that I always make an effort to make the work I do on my own as cheap as possible and as painless as possible to get. That”s why my specials are five dollars and that”s why I sold tickets to my last big tour here on the site, with our own ticketing service at a flat price with no ticket charges and we have worked hard to keep my tickets out of the hands of scalpers.

So why the dirty fuckballs did I charge you five dollars for Horace and Pete, where most TV shows you buy online are 3 dollars or less? Well, the dirty unmovable fact is that this show is fucking expensive.

The standup specials are much more containable. It”s one guy on a stage in a theater and in most cases, the cost of the tickets that the live audience paid, was enough to finance the filming.

But Horace and Pete is a full on TV production with four broadcast cameras, two beautiful sets and a state of the art control room and a very talented and skilled crew and a hall-of-fame cast. Every second the cameras are rolling, money is shooting out of my asshole like your mother”s worst diarrhea. (Yes there are less upsetting metaphors I could be using but I just think that one is the sharpest and most concise). Basically this is a hand-made, one guy paid for it version of a thing that is usually made by a giant corporation.

Now, I”m not complaining about this at all. I”m just telling you the facts. I charged five dollars because I need to recoup some of the cost in order for us to stay in production.

Also, it”s interesting. The value of any set amount of money is mercurial (I”m showing off because i just learned that word. It means it changes and shifts a lot). Some people say “Five dollars is a cup of coffee”. Some people say “Hey! Five dollars?? What the fuck!” Some people say “What are you guys talking about?” Some people say “Nothing. don”t enter a conversation in the middle”.

Anyway, I”m leaving the first episode at 5 dollars. I’m lowering the next episode to 2 dollars and the rest will be 3 dollars after that. I hope you feel that”s fair. If you don”t, please tell everyone in the world.

And that’s that. We know that a new episode is coming on Saturday, and more down the road, but we don’t know how much. C.K. promised to tell us more eventually, “But for now I want to shut up and not ruin the experience of you just watching the show.”