Comedy club average is over

 One Barcelona comedy club is experimenting with using facial recognition technology to charge patrons by the laugh.

The comedy club, Teatreneu, partnered with the advertising firm The Cyranos McCann to implement the new technology after the government hiked taxes on theater tickets, according to a BBC report. In 2012, the Spanish government raised taxes on theatrical shows from 8 to 21 percent.

Cyranos McCann installed tablets on the back of each seat that used facial recognition tech to measure how much a person enjoyed the show by tracking when each patron laughed or smiled.

Each giggle costs approximately 30 Euro cents ($0.38). However, if a patron hits the 24 Euros mark, which is about 80 laughs, the rest of their laughs are free of charge.

The full story is here, via Mark Steckbeck.


This is a very ingenious use of technology. Is it price discrimination? I guess so!

I would love to see this in the United States. There would be significant faux outrage. What impact would it have on how often consumers laugh during these shows?

What comedian would want to do a show there?

What customer would want to see a show there? It's less costly to have a bad time.

I should's less costly to FAKE having a bad time, thus incentivizing you to actually have a bad time.

Despite all my searching on this topic, I have only seen one person (on reddit) point out the obvious: this can't be true. Looks like a publicity stunt or conceptual art piece.

It is clearly a stunt.

However, that doesn't mean it's not true. The news coverage suggests they are actually doing it, and the novelty is attracting customers.
There is no technical barrier to implementing it. There is a question of accuracy (and disputes from customers), but that can probably be handled by having them agree to some terms before the show starts.

Something tells me that this should be the other way round — it’d be more functional to penalise people for not enjoying the comedic experience.

As it stands, as an audience member I’m compelled to simply sit there with a stony face or face financial punishment. As a comedian, this would be appalling — a sign of a gig that’s not going well — you could either carry on being ignored or resign to die on stage. Not a good experience for either party.

Could an audience member legitimately claim a refund because “I was merely remembering something funny that happened to me earlier that day” — nothing to do with what was going on on that night?

If the mechanism were inverted, ie, pay if you don’t laugh, the whole dynamic of what a comedy gig is all about would not only survive but flourish. Of course, then, a comedian could then simply stand up and unconfidently recite a shopping list in mumbled monotone, and everyone would agree it was their best night out in a long time.

Bizarre idea.

Why would customers agree to pay more the less they liked the product?

Couldn't everybody just fake laughs so they don't have to pay?

It might be beneficial for the customer to pay for a lack of laughter. Yes, it may generate some fake laughter, but that might be OK. Even fake laughter likely boosts one's mood, and could be contagious. It's just a matter of setting the minimum and maximum prices correctly.

It's a bad pricing model, but easily fixed. You should pay based on how much everybody else laughs. Whether you laugh or not should not affect the price you pay. This removes the incentive for you to modify your response, but retains the "quality factor" portion of the pricing model.

Hope they don't install measurement devices

That reward professors

Based on

How much the students learn.

That's a joke. You're supposed to laugh. Not cry.

Sorry, no euros for you this time, keep trying.

Heh he ... oops I think I owe somebody 38 cents now.

Why would a comedy club want to discourage people from laughing. This seems like it would trigger a lot of negative cycles, where no one laughs at the jokes, so the show gets worse.

I can confirm that this is not true. I live in the neighbourhood of Teatreneu (Gracia, Barcelona), visit almost weekly, and have never seen nor heard of this system.

It is an interesting concept but charging the customers per laugh is doing it wrong. Instead, they should compensate the comedians based on how many laughs the generate from the audience. More laughs=more money.

Actually this is counter productive, the best Comedy Clubs are located in strip malls far from the urban core and especially far from "cool" places like Barcelona. Places where attractive women dare not tread and everyone is miserable.

BUT if you charge for giggles, people will try to suppress them and, to the extent they're successful, there will be less laughter.

The problem then is the positive feedback: as the inventor of the laugh-track knew, everything's funnier when others are laughing.

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