The popularity of performance art as ebbed and flowed since someone named it performance art. Out of all the performance arts though, stand-up comedy could be considered the youngest and the one seen with the most skepticism.
I think comedy is seen as the lesser of the performance arts for several reasons one being that the core of stand-up comedy (or all comedy) is the joke. And the joke cannot be measure empirically. You cannot measure the power of a joke. You can’t weigh it. The only way of knowing if a joke worked is if people laughed. That is problem! People laugh at different times about different things. What worked one day could never work again. This isn’t the case with dance. You either do the move smoothly or you don’t. If you juggle and drop the ball everyone knows that you are not supposed to do that.
Another reason comedy has a lesser status is with the content of the material. A large amount of jokes are intended to take something that we hold for granted (like airplanes) and poke fun at it. This works great in some case like the family order, but in other ways, like religion, it doesn’t. Because comedy is making light of certain situations, I feel a lot of people avoid stand-up comedy unless they know the comedian. Why go to a bar and see a comic that might talk about how terrible republicans are, when you can save up 50 bucks and know that the guy with the puppets will do stuff that doesn’t challenge you in those ways.
We have to also be aware of the places in which comedy shows are being held. They are not being done in the nice wine rooms a lot of the time. They are being performed in the rowdy bars of America, and a lot of people are turned off to that. A lot of people will also not really hold your art form in high regard when it involves making alcoholics laugh.
I think the only way these negative stereotypes can be taken away from stand-up comedy is time. There are so many comedians out there that are not doing the things that got comedy looked down upon that I think eventually comedy can be seen in the same light as dance and other types of performance art.