Article

Playing with culture: Nigerian stand-up comedians joking with cultural beliefs and representations

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  • Augustine University Ilara-Epe Lagos
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Abstract

In interactions, the culture of the participants influences their contributions and interpretations. Stand-up comedians articulate contemporary culture by making mutually manifest cultural beliefs and representations within the performance space, and teach the audience how to use them. This paper investigated how Nigerian stand-up comedians employ cultural assumptions and representations in their performances. Using relevance theory for analysis and seven routines from seven Nigerian stand-up comedians as the data, this study explored how Nigerian stand-up comedians bring shared cultural knowledge into their performances. Nigerian stand-up comedians joke with culture by manipulating shared cultural representations, distorting collective knowledge, manipulating stereotypes and projecting personal beliefs. By joking with cultural beliefs and representations within the performance space, Nigerian stand-up comedians mediate and negotiate what “contemporary culture” should be.

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... However, much has generally been done on humour in Nigeria in other forms of discourse, such as stand-up comedy (Adetunji, 2013;Filani, 2015;Sunday & Filani, 2019), movies (Brown, 2008;Ehiemua, 2008) and computer-mediated communication (Inya 2016;Lamidi 2016;Taiwo 2016). Filani (2015) analyses how Nigerian stand-up comedians manipulate the parameters of an activity type so as to achieve their interactional goals in their performances, while Filani (2016) is interested in discourse types that emanate from the humour performed by stand-up comedians on Night of a Thousand Laughs, so as to decipher the two major contexts evoked in the selected performances, namely context of the joke and context in the joke. ...
... Filani (2015) analyses how Nigerian stand-up comedians manipulate the parameters of an activity type so as to achieve their interactional goals in their performances, while Filani (2016) is interested in discourse types that emanate from the humour performed by stand-up comedians on Night of a Thousand Laughs, so as to decipher the two major contexts evoked in the selected performances, namely context of the joke and context in the joke. Sunday and Filani (2019) investigate how cultural assumptions and representations are deployed by Nigerian stand-up comedians in their performances. The study uses Relevance Theory to analyse seven routines from seven Nigerian stand-up comedians. ...
Article
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Studies on humour in Nigeria have been extensively carried out from the perspectives of stand-up comedy and computer-mediated communication. There is a dearth of scholarly enquiries on humour in situation comedies (sitcoms). This paper investigates humour in the interactions of characters in Jenifa’s Diary and Professor JohnBull, with a view to accounting for the manifestations of humour, the humour strategies deployed and the functions that the humorous utterances serve in the sitcoms. The work is situated in Culpeper’s Impoliteness Theory. Eight excerpts from the sitcoms were subjected to pragmatic analysis. Two discourse functions of amusing and castigating are discovered in the data. The former serves the function of facilitating discourse and changing presumed power and status, while the latter serves the function of maintaining one’s own space and autonomy, and demanding respect. Allusion, parody, retort, tease, banter and putdown are the humour techniques employed in the sitcoms. The study corroborates the claim of earlier studies that humour in every sphere of language use serves certain functions beyond the interactional need to create amusement.
... The foregoing brings out one salient point about humour in the Nigerian context. Humour is an integral part of our culture but we barely deliberate over what it tells us concerning who we are and how we live (Sunday & Filani, 2019). This fact challenges more research into the core values of humour within the different cultural heritages of the Nigerian nation. ...
Chapter
Humour, a positive psychology (PP1.0) construct (Fischer, Carow, & Eger, 2020) is a central component of resiliency. Having a sense of humour is a sign of human strength, intelligence, and psychological maturity (Abel, 2016; Ghaemi, 2011). Humour allows individuals to emotionally distance themselves from a stressful event in order to cope. Humour is considered as a crucial job resource for individuals across cultures. It has been further credited for several positive outcomes such as resilience and well-being (Billig, 2018). The objective of the chapter is to present a critical review of the moderating role of resilience in adaptive humour styles (self-enhancing and affiliative humour) and well-being at work from a PP1.0 perspective. The findings of the study of Bhattacharyya, Jena, and Pradhan (2019) indicate a significant association between the adaptive humour styles and well-being at work, with resilience as a moderator.
... 1. Topics: Apart from prompting the audience to laugh and clapping, taboos and deviant topics are also decisive to subverting the status quo (Mintz 1985). According to Sunday and Filani (2018), the subjects they tackle promote the negotiation of the comedians' interactional and background identities, and also help enhance the common ground between the comedian and the audience. In their resistance to the hegemonic system, both monologists under analysis use certain topics that have been divided into three main themes: sex and relationships, physical appearance and social issues. ...
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... 1. Topics: Apart from prompting the audience to laugh and clapping, taboos and deviant topics are also decisive to subverting the status quo (Mintz 1985). According to Sunday and Filani (2018), the subjects they tackle promote the negotiation of the comedians' interactional and background identities, and also help enhance the common ground between the comedian and the audience. In their resistance to the hegemonic system, both monologists under analysis use certain topics that have been divided into three main themes: sex and relationships, physical appearance and social issues. ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper aims to explore subversive humor in Spanish stand-up comedy by analyzing the work of two well-known Spanish female comedians, Eva Hache and Patricia Sornosa. In order to reach this goal, a corpus of these comedians’ performances has been collected, comprising a total of 25 monologues, which have been divided into humorous sequences, which come to a total of 76 in the corpus of Eva Hache and 37 for Patricia Sornosa. The qualitative and quantitative analysis has focused on subversive humorous sequences, which has shown that only 22.38% of the sequences from Eva Hache’s comic monologues are mainly built around subverting the status quo, whereas Patricia Sornosa challenges the heteronormative discourse in most of her sequences (87.93%). Further, in this case study, we have examined the main linguistic techniques they use when challenging the heteronormative standards, namely the topics, targets, discourse strategies and linguistic cues used to generate a subversive effect. Findings show that both comics use subversive humor but in different ways because of contextual constraints. Whilst Patricia Sornosa offers an overt critique, Eva Hache disparages in a subtler manner even when teasing and undermining male power. Keywords: subversive humor; gender; stand-up comedy; discourse strategy, target.
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