If you haven’t heard the name Andrew Schulz yet, you will. He is, in this writer’s very humble opinion, one of the greatest comedians of his generation.
Schulz’ comedy is brilliantly irreverent and his unorthodox path to success flies in the face of the established industry–the same industry that has often capitulated to the whims of the woke mob.
In July, his newest special, Infamous, was set for release on a popular streaming platform, the name of which no one knows because the hour-long special never came out … at least not as planned.
As fans eagerly counted down the days until the special’s premiere, Schulz was being delivered some bad news: the platform would not be releasing his work unless he agreed to edit out jokes that were deemed to be too controversial and “wild.” In this modern day witch hunt that we call cancel culture, executives feared the potential backlash they might face if Infamous was allowed to air in its original form.
Schulz refused. But since he had already sold the special, the only way to preserve it in its entirety and maintain his artistic integrity was to buy it back—and he used his life savings to do so.
Schulz built his brand on the foundation that he answers to no one. And unlike other comics, the route he chose to take with his comedy has ensured that he’s never had to.
The Road Less Traveled
In the marketplace, consumers love when a stagnant industry gets disrupted by new ways of being.
For decades the outdated and corrupt cab companies were the only option for someone who needed a ride across town—until Uber came along. Similarly, the hotel industry was able to charge pretty much whatever it wanted because there were no other options for people who needed short term lodging—until Airbnbs popped up all over the U.S.. And after years of privacy issues and a distrust in the traditional monetary system, Bitcoin and blockchain technology completely disrupted financial “businesses as usual.”
Andrew Schulz is, in many ways, the Bitcoin of comedy.
The road to comedic success is not for the faint of heart. To have a shot at fame, a comic has to be willing to play the game. They have to do open mics in empty rooms and perform countless shows in dive bars where none of the patrons expected nor wanted to see a live comedy show.
And once you have several years of performing under your belt, you have to be willing to quit your day job, go on the road, and hope that one day you capture the attention of an established comic or a booker.
Even if all this goes well, your odds of being a famous comedian are still pretty slim.
But that was before the internet. Now, the traditional barriers to entry that were there for older generations don’t exist.
Schulz started his career like many other young comics, he performed at local clubs. In 2017, he spent $25,000 to film his first special—one that no networks wanted.
Without a network to back him, he decided to do it by himself.
The Startup Comedian
After asking his friends what made them want to watch a comedy special, he came to the conclusion that length played a huge role for viewers. People loved comedy, but in the fast-paced world we live in, they didn’t want to watch the whole hour.
Schulz trimmed his hour special down to 16 minutes and uploaded it to Youtube. Today, it has nearly 3 million views.
Throughout 2018 and 2019, he focused on his YouTube channel, uploading 125 of his best live comedy bits. As he put it, “100 clips is 100 ways of discovering me. An hour on Netflix is one.”
During the pandemic, he kept up his momentum by uploading late night show-style monologues. And without a network to answer to, he wasn’t obligated to censor his content, and this unbridled delivery only made him more popular.
At a time when comedians all over the world were suffering without audiences to perform for, Schulz was averaging 2 million views for each of the 17 monologues he released in 17 weeks.
When it came to social media, Schulz knew what he was doing. Every piece of content was catered to whatever platform he was using.
Schulz is to comedy what startups are to outdated market industries. And just as consumers flocked to Airbnb and Uber in droves for their innovative services, fans have followed Schulz wherever his comedy takes them because it’s new, exciting, and most importantly hilarious.
His fan base has continued to grow with the rise of his podcast, Flagrant 2, which is one of the most popular podcasts on Patreon with about 20,300 paid subscribers.
When the unnamed streaming platform demanded that he censor his content, Schulz knew he couldn’t disappoint the fans who loved him for his edgy content. He also knew he could rely on them for support.
'Ultimately, It’s Up To You'
In an Instagram post, Schulz explained the situation and told fans of his decision to buy back the special.
Instead, he would be releasing it on his own platform and fans would have a limited window to purchase the digital special for about $17, which they would own in perpetuity.
“I don’t know if this is going to work,” he said, “Ultimately, it’s up to you guys.”
Schulz was turning lemons into lemonade.
Not only did people love his comedy, but they were also eager to hear the content that was so “wild” it wasn’t allowed on streaming platforms. The demand for his special was through the roof.
But was it enough to make his decision to pull the special worth it?
In yet another Instagram post, Schulz looked at the camera solemnly as he explained that he did not recoup the money he spent buying the special … he tripled it.
With the cheesiest of grins, he then says in the most New York way possible “f*** editing jokes. Put your faith in the people, not logos.”
And the people had spoken.
If networks and big time streaming companies want to continue censoring comedians who don’t subscribe to the woke line of thinking, they should by all means, go ahead.
But Schulz just disrupted the entire comedy industry the way Uber made hailing a cab nearly obsolete.
If streaming companies want to survive, they would do well to let comedians say what they want and let individuals decide what they want to watch.