At This Spanish Comedy Club Patrons "Pay Per Laugh"

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In September 2013, the government of Spain increased taxes on cultural events from 8% to 21%, making the cost of live theater performances prohibitive for most people. Within four months, venues reported a 30% decline in audience. While most theater owners sat around fuming at the officials, Barcelona-based Teatreneu, decided to tackle the challenge with an innovative approach to attract audience.

Partnering with local advertising agency The Cyranos McCann, they came up with a radical idea. Instead of charging customers a fixed entrance fee, the theater owners decided to charge them "per laugh". They began by fitting each seat with a facial recognition system that detects the expression of the person seated behind.

Each time a viewer cracks a smile or laughs during the performance, the system captures the expression and keeps a count. In order to keep the cost reasonable, the owners priced each smile/laugh for a low 0.30 Euros ($0.39) and also, capped the maximum amount owed to $24 Euros ($31 USD). Once the show ends, customers can either head over to the theater window and settle their "laughing tab" or pay using the theater's mobile app. The best part is, those that do not enjoy the show can walk out, without paying a penny.

According to Teatreneu officials, the idea has resonated extremely well with theater lovers in Barcelona. Not only has the number of people lining up to watch the shows increased by 35%, but also, the average ticket price paid, has jumped by almost 6 Euros ($7.50). They are also receiving tremendous free publicity as the audiences share their experience with friends via social media sites. Not surprisingly, their success has led theaters all over Spain to start installing similar systems, leading many experts to predict that the excitement with the "pay per laugh" experience will start to wear off, once it becomes a norm.

Resources: odditycentral.com,telegraph.co.uk, washingtonpost.com

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162 Comments
  • chlooe
    chlooeFriday, February 22, 2019 at 5:12 pm
    I laugh all the time. It's like I have too much energy!! I make weird sounds and start laughing my head off!!
    • chlooe
      chlooeFriday, February 22, 2019 at 5:11 pm
      ❤ This is so smart!! We should do this in America XD ❤
      • specialist
        specialistMonday, May 30, 2016 at 7:48 pm
        Sure, do all this while the planet is dying.
        • bootsThursday, March 17, 2016 at 12:50 pm
          cool idea worst idea when it is a funny movie
          • minecrafterdog
            minecrafterdogTuesday, February 3, 2015 at 4:22 pm
            hmm, you can cover up the iPad sensor!
            • minecrafterdog
              minecrafterdogTuesday, February 3, 2015 at 4:19 pm
              I wouldn't go ! I laugh all the time, even for no reason! at least the maximum charge is 24 euros.
              • persondude
                persondudeWednesday, December 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm
                how did they afford so many i pads???
                • specialist
                  specialistMonday, May 30, 2016 at 7:45 pm
                  Their a theater! Duh
                • #:)Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 9:29 am
                  just cover up your mouth
                  • bistboi
                    bistboiSaturday, December 6, 2014 at 10:59 pm
                    I laugh for no reason and smile all the time so I'd be broke by the time I get out^
                    • specialist
                      specialistMonday, May 30, 2016 at 7:46 pm
                      You only have to pay 24 euros.
                    • AnonymousFriday, December 5, 2014 at 11:36 am
                      I'm awesome at concealing smiles