Question for Gethard - Have you ever considered doing something like Kickstarter? Would that go against public access rules if the money was being used strictly for the show? I’m sure there would be a number of us more than happy to donate so that it would at least eat some of the financial burden.
This is a really nice thought, and I want to thank you for sending it along. I really think Kickstarter is a great thing - I was one of its early adopters for a project we did as part of this show when it was still a stage show at UCB. But I have two dissenting thoughts on Kickstarter for our purposes, even though I really do think it’s a great site:
1) Every time I get a Kickstarter email these days, I react to it the same way I react to emails about Nigerian princes who need my help laundering money, or the weird Pottery Barn weekly updates I get even though I am 100% positive I have never shopped at Pottery Barn or signed up for their online newsletter. Basically, at best I just delete them and move on and on days when I’m in a pissy mood I sort of sigh and shake my head and get annoyed by them. Kickstarter is a wonderful thing, but there are so many of them going around right now that I can’t imagine throwing another one on the pile.
2) More importantly - I am far more protective of and obsessed with the community we’ve built around this show than I think even any of you realize. I do not want to ask for more from an audience that has gone out of its way to be massively supportive of us as performers, our show as a platform, and our approach to the show as an ethos. It’s really incredible and uplifting to me, and honestly, if you are a person who watches/calls/emails/tweets/tumbls at TCGS, I see it and I know about it and it fills me with this sort of Jersey-chip-on-the-shoulder-rage-slash-confidence-pride that makes me want to fight and make something out of this thing. This community makes me want to get this show on a platform large enough that we as a community can someday turn to all the people who have passed at the chance of championing this show and in unison say “See? We surprised you, didn’t we? We exceeded your expectations, didn’t we? Maybe the reason this show had a cult following was because it’s funny and people identify with it. That spread more than you thought it would, because it is based in honesty. We warned you - You shouldn’t have doubted us.”
But, I’m also a crazy person!
The point is, there may come a day where we do a donation drive of some sort online - (you are right in that public access bylaws mean we couldn’t do this sort of thing on the MNN airwaves). When that day comes, I 100% promise you that the begging for cash will come bundled up with the sort of content that makes you like our show in the first place. The only way to be respectful of this community is to make sure we give them something in return for any monetary support they might graciously choose to offer us.
One thing that was really eye opening and uplifting was that we made $1,000 off that shitty art we made on the air and auctioned off afterwards! That’s huge for us, both in that the money is insanely generous and helps us, and in that it shows our community will put money behind things that are born out of the content of the show. There is meaning in that to them, and pride in owning a piece of this world we’re all building together.
It is on all of us at the show and myself in particular to make sure we do not ask for your guys’ dollars without it being necessary, and that when it is necessary we as much possible give you viewers something akin to that idea of “You can win a piece of the show” for your contributions. This show is a conversation between the people in the studio and the people in the outside world - but we are all a part of the same team and I will not exploit you guys for cash. I just don’t have it in me.
We have our t-shirts and pins and stickers available, and every time one of those t-shirts is bought there’s about five dollars profit that gets put back into the show. (Currently, the t-shirts haven’t even paid for themselves, let alone come close to supporting the content of the show. It’s fun that they exist and hopefully viewers with big hearts like yours see that even if that t-shirt winds up at the end of the drawer, it’s our way of saying “Here, we don’t want to just take your money - we want to make sure that if you step up and honor us in that way, we can give you something, even a dumb little black and white t-shirt, in return.”) Most interestingly, our best and fastest selling t-shirt was The Hintmaster shirt, which our friend Diana Kolsky drew the night of the Hintmaster’s unexpected debut, and that our friends at Nite Owl Print shop out in Houston got us back before the next week’s show. People bought that shirt not just because they thought it was a cool shirt, or that they wanted to have a TCGS shirt - they bought it that week because they understood it was funny and heightened the bit that the Hintmaster would have his own shirt that immediately and that they could buy it to further the comedy of him being a “hit”. People bought a product knowing that it added to the actual quality of the comedic storyline we were building. It was an eye opening moment for me. We have a smart, savvy, cool ass audience who is down to support us with money when we give them things that make them feel like they’re a part of it - it’s on us over here in NYC to make sure we build things that are worth your time and money in return.
Hopefully someday we can get enough money together that we’ll be able to fly cast members out to meet audience members and do video bits on their turf, we’ll be able to get permits to film in awesome and unexpected places, we’ll be able to put money towards executing comedic moments and ill-advised stunts that show just how big we’re ready to go with this show when it has a real motherfucking budget. But for now that’s a bit of a pipe dream, so we’re happy to stay under the radar, occasionally have a bit that we know would be amazing that we don’t have the money to execute, often pull off bits that should cost thousands of dollars more than they do, sometimes just straight up dip into personal savings to build a Human Crane, and most importantly - embrace the fact that we have viewers and fans like you who are rooting for us and looking out for us. It means a lot. Thank you.
But yeah - the day when we do a donation drive may come! If it does, it will be wrapped up in content, it will be a bit in and of itself somehow, and if you participate in the drive you will be participating in that content. That’s our end of the bargain, and that’s something I very much believe in - if you are a fan or supporter of our show, you don’t just give us your money for nothing. You’re probably already paying 200 bucks a month for four cable channels you actually watch, and then have about 980 that you never watch but are still giving them money for. The money grab is a part of the corporate structure of traditional television that I really don’t want to emulate, and I’d rather give you a t-shirt, a piece of art made on the show, or some sort of content for your hard earned cash. Until we’re able to do that on a more organized, more consistent basis, I have no desire to ask money of our army of viewers unless it becomes absolutely necessary.
Very sincere thanks to you -