What is the fastest you've ever seen someone move up in the ranks of stand up comedy?
You'll probably need to define 'ranks' unless you specifically mean the AST poll...
I heard that Dave Chappelle was headlining by the time he was 9!!
Hey, check me out. I'm a ghost.
The following quote from the Patton Oswalt episode of "Comedy and Everything Else" is perfect, because I assume the question is really "How fast can I move up the ranks?"
"You're exactly where you're supposed to be." Your status depends almost entirely on you and your work ethic and dedication.
Example: I moved to San Francisco about the same time as another person, around 18 months ago. Since that time, this other comic has made more forward strides, is more regularly booked for shows and gets more recognition from clubs. The reason: they deserve it. They've worked their ass off, hit open mics almost every night and write and write and write, while I've used shitty work hours and other things in life as excuses. In 18 months people regularly mention this person as "gonna be HUGE someday," and my name is nowhere near that statement, deservedly so. You want it, go and get it.
"You're a ghost!"- Tom Scharpling
Zero experience here.
How much material should I have prepared for an open mic?
Time wise, subject wise...
Most comedy-based open mics that are run well will offer comedians 3-10 minutes...with the better comedians earning more time and the absolute beginners getting the least.
Also, it's good to know how to dismount when your time is up--and not just keep going until you've finished the material that you'd prepared to do. Just because you timed yourself at home and you "know" that what you want to do is a certain amount of time, doesn't mean that same material done for an audience will take the same amount of time.
As far as subject wise goes...I'm not certain there's an answer to that. If you're an absolute beginner, that's not really a question that should worry you at the moment. Do what you've got and learn by doing.
Don't feel like if you don't have "enough subjects" that you should wait to start doing comedy. That's just giving yourself an excuse not to dive into the pool. Dive in...and figure out how to swim from there. You're going to get wet, you're going to feel like you won't make it...but when you do make it--even if it wasn't pretty--then you realize that you didn't have to be afraid...and it'll be easier to do it again.
Should you have stuff on different topics? Sure. If all you have are jokes about bran muffins and nobody likes bran muffins then they won't like you...but, seriously, at this stage of the game...the key thing is to get on stage and start honing your instincts and your technical skills.
pg--And, just to repeat for impact...always find out how an open mic is run before just showing up.--pocatello
I went to a comedy show and it consisted of 5 comics:
The MC did a monologue for 5 minutes and intruduced each comic between acts.
A comic got up and did 5 minutes.
Next comic did 10 minutes.
Next comic did 20 minutes.
Headliner did about 45 minutes.
Each act seemed more polished and professional. Is this the standard/formal comedy show? Do they veer much from this format?
Sometimes a show will be just one comedian performing for 90 minutes.
Sometimes a show will be a showcase of multiple comics all doing approximately the same amount of time each (could be 7 minutes, 10, 15, 20, depending on the club and the number of comics and length of the show, etc.).
Sometimes a show will be a three-person show, or some variation thereof (which is sort of what the show you described sounds like), where you'll have an opener do 10-15 minutes, a feature/middle act do 20-30 minutes, and a headliner do 40-60 minutes, sometimes with a host that also does maybe 10-20 minutes throughout the show.
(Variations of this can include a two-person show with just one act before the headliner, or possibly like the show you described, a 5-minute or other-lengthed guest set somewhere on the show.)
A lot of clubs in NYC use the showcase model, though some on the weekends will have the 3-person format.
So in conclusion, the answer is "it depends" or "no, there is no one standard" or "what's a formal comedy show?" or "yes, that is how every comedy show goes when it is a 3-person show with two extra people but sometimes it's not like that."
Yeah, what Myq said.
Is it a good idea for a new stand up comic to spend time watching and studying video of some of the stand up legends and icons such as Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Bill Hicks etc?
What is the matter with you?
Hey, check me out. I'm a ghost.
Just watch that episode of Wings where Helen tried comedy.
I'm a comic. My website is mark-agee.com