No joke: Comedy club charges per laugh via facial recognition

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Forget pay per click, how about pay per cackle? In a new digital take on admission fees, a comedy club in Barcelona used facial recognition software to charge per laugh, rather than per show. Back in June 2014, the Teatreneu clubrecorded each laugh from customers on a tablet on the back of the seat in front. The scheme, which uses facial recognition software, is now working so well that its helping the Spanish venue turn a larger profit. Entrance to the club is free, but each laugh amounts to €0.30 (£0.24) – to a maximum of 80 laughs for €24 (£18). The average ticket price is now up by €6 and it has resulted in 35 per cent more spectators.

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The industry has reportedly suffered huge setbacks after the government raised the tax on theatre tickets from 8 per cent to 21 per cent.

In an entertaining video outlining its efforts, the club says immediately after the move by the authorities, audience numbers reduced by 30 per cent in one year.

In conjunction with advertising agency The Cyranos McCann, the venue began experimenting by installing tablets on the back of audience members’ seats and recording each time they laughed.

At the end of the show, customers can see how much they’d spent and then post their results on their social media profiles.

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Other theatres in Spain are now also following suit in the hope that they, too, could see an increase in customer figures.

A mobile phone payment app has also been launched, in addition to the theatre’s first season ticket based on laughs, not shows.

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