What does it exactly take to call yourself a “stand-up comedian?”
Is after you take the stage for the first time and kill amongst your friends? Or after you bomb terribly? Do you have to go up night in and night out performing anywhere from clubs and theatres to the corners of laundromats?
How about using your stardom and an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to tell one joke that’s “based” on an actual working comedian’s material? Does that count?
This past Monday, Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, appeared on Fallon and told one joke that’s based on British comedian Peter Kay. Though Radcliffe was goaded by Fallon to perform and Radcliffe would most likely not call himself a comedian, every post/article about his appearance made it seem that Radcliffe had his “stand-up comedy debut.”
And even though the headlines, for the most part, were written with tongue slightly in cheek, the mentions made it sound like he was any other hard working comic “cutting their teeth” in LA or NY at open mics, small shows where no one is there to see comedy, getting ready for their single moment to be in the national spotlight. Regardless, it brings the above question to light.
If you talk to “road comics” who make their living performing all over the world no matter if it’s in Wisconsin or in Hollywood, some might tell you that you’re not a stand-up comedian until you’re physically ill, vastly deprived of sleep, in a room full of far-gone drunks that could care less what you have to say and perform that you have the right to call yourself a stand up comedian.
Perhaps, earning such a title isn’t that extreme, but it’s certainly one that’s up for debate as many celebrities as of late have taken to starting their own comedy tour exploiting their fame to get them surpass the painful process in coming up as a stand up comedian. The opposite is also true as many popular comedians have tried making rap albums non-ironically and get play because of their name. Are they real MCs?
What do you think? What do you think it takes to legitimately call yourself a stand-up comedian?