Didn't laugh? Don't pay!

Christina Drill
October 10, 2014

An indie comedy theater groupe in Barcelona called Teatreneu has developed a new way to charge audience members who come in to see their show-- instead of a flat entrance fee, Teatreneu will charge each audience member a different fee, depending how much time they spent laughing during the performance. The point is to make each admission price relative to how much each person enjoyed the show.

"Pay Per Laugh" is the system they're using to measure each person's laughter-level during every show. Almost creepily Big Brother-ish, there are tablets on the back of each seat that monitor each audience member with face recognition technology. It logs anytime an audience member smiles or laughs, and the meter goes up EUR 0.30 (USD 0.38) every time they do. The tracker also helps the producer of the show decide what works and what doesn't, collecting quantifiable information to make each show more successful.

"Pay Per Laugh," which won an award at last year's Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and was designed by a Barcelona-based production lab Xavi's Lab, which is an extension of the British company Glasshouse.

The innovative idea stems from a law passed by the Spanish government that raised taxes on theatre productions from 8% to a whopping 21%, which obviously resulted in a huge audience loss for live shows.

And it's a hit with audiences! The theater tickets are capped at EUR 24 (USD 30), and those lower-laughing patrons were pleased to pay a lower ticket price at the end of the night. Obviously, this technology can only work for shows that set out to make audiences LOL, so the concept is limited to the comedy circuit right now. BUT WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT! The opera should do this, but with a "Pay Per Cry."

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