ArticlePDF Available

Pragmatics of Crisis-Motivated Humour in Computer Mediated Platforms in Nigeria



Humour, an established means of releasing stress and tension has attracted scholarly attention over the years. In the Nigerian discourse context, studies on Crisis-Motivated Humour (CMH) via CMC platforms are scanty. This paper investigates humour shared through the social media which reflects the socioeconomic/political challenges in Nigeria in order to identify CMH as a form of humour through which real-life experiences of other people can be understood. Ethnography of Communication and Pragmatic act theory serve as the theoretical framework. Ten anonymous humorous compositions were randomly selected from WhatsApp and Facebook. CMH is a creative composition of jokes which reflects the Nigerians’ experiences, perceptions, imaginations and assumptions. They are purposefully composed by Nigerians, in order to downplay the effects of the crisis and bring temporary reliefs to the audience. These jokes elicit amusement, high-level wits and satirise the crisis situation(s). CMH are composed mainly in English with a blend of pidgin and a reflection of some Nigerianism. They are replete with verifiable, but exaggerated facts deployed through varying practs. Use of the first person singular pronoun ‘I’ and second person singular/plural ‘you’ with the use of simple present tense of verb among other grammatical elements, are a norm. All these make some of the jokes believable and also establish CMH as a unique genre of humour with an unlimited audience. CMH are often preserve-able and re-usable and thus serve as a relevant medium through which political leaders can assess the plights of the populace and access first-hand information on the ‘real’ impacts of the crisis. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
6This article is published under the Creative
Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
National Research University Higher School ofEconomics
Journal of Language & Education Volume 4, Issue 3, 2018
Pragmatics of Crisis-Motivated
Humour in Computer Mediated
Platforms in Nigeria
Ayodele James Akinola
University of Ibadan
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ayodele James Akinola, Department of
English, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, 200284. E-mail:
Humour, an established means of releasing stress and tension, has attracted scholarly attention
over the years. In the Nigerian discourse context, studies on Crisis-Motivated Humour (CMH)
via CMC platforms are scarce. This paper investigates humour shared through social media that
reects the socioeconomic/political challenges in Nigeria in order to identify CMH as a form of
humour through which real-life experiences of other people can be understood. Ethnography
of communication and pragmatic act theory provide the theoretical framework. 30 anonymous
humorous compositions were randomly selected fromWhatsApp(15) andFacebook (15). CMH
is a creative composition of jokes that reects Nigerian experiences, perceptions, imaginations
and assumptions. They are purposefully composed by Nigerians in order to downplay the effects
of the crisis and bring temporary relief to the audience. These jokes elicit amusement, high-
level wit and satirise the crisis situation(s). CMH are composed mainly in English with a blend
of Nigerian Pidgin and a reection of some Nigerianism. They are replete with veriable but
exaggerated facts, deployed through varying practices. Use of the rst person singular pronoun
‘I’ and second person singular/plural ‘you’ with the use of simple present tense of verb among
other grammatical elements are the norm. These features make some of the jokes believable
and also establish CMH as a unique genre of humour with an unlimited audience. CMH are
often preserve-able and re-usable and thus serve as a relevant medium through which political
leaders can assess the plights of the populace and access rst-hand information on the ‘real’
impacts of the crisis.
Keywords: сrisis-motivated humour, computer mediated, platforms, Nigeria, pragmatics of
Humour, an established means of releasing stress
and tension has attracted scholarly attention over the
years and has been identified as an effective means
of interaction. In teaching and learning, it is an
effective way of arousing and stimulating the interest
of learners (Aboudan, 2009; Ruggieri, 1999; Sopher,
1981; Southam and Schwartz, 2004). According to Ross
(1998), “humour is capable of creating an atmosphere
of relief from anxiety, anger and pain. Its profile is
high in the society”. The subject has been conceived
as a complex multi-faceted phenomenon (Marin-
Arrese, 2005). Interest in the topic has continued to
grow across various disciplines. Many of the existing
studies on humour have focused on its principles, form
and functions in societies. Examples include Morreall
(1997), Mulkay (1989), Hay (2000), Meyer (2000), to
name just a few. Scholars like Dziegielewski, Jacinto,
Laudadio, & Legg-Rodriguez (2003), Dean & Major
(2008), Mora-Ripoll (2010) among others have explored
the therapeutic value of humour. Obadare (2009) and
Davies (2014) examined the application of humour in
politics with a focus on its various forms and media.
Some studies on humour in crisis situations have
provided a basis for understanding humour reactions
in social media among American, Asian and European
users (see Beeston, Urrutia, Halcrow, Xiao, Liu, et al.
(2014) and Wise (2016). This study investigates crisis-
motivated humour in computer-mediated platforms in
Nigeria within the scholarly lens of pragmatics.
Sources and construction of humour vary (Attardo
2017). Depending on the environment, humour can
be employed through satirisation as seen in texts
(especially academic). On the television, it can be
regarded as a comedy, constructed in play or before
a live audience (e.g. stand-up comedy). In the family,
interpersonal or group interactions, humour can be
evoked through jokes and sometimes, puns and so on.
In all the environments identified, it can be inferred
that humour is potentially an effective tool for
sustaining the peace, stability and general well-being
Akinola, A.J. (2018). Pragmatics of Crisis-Motivated Humour in Computer
Mediated Platforms in Nigeria. Journal of Language and Education, 4(3), 6-17.
of any person or society. Humour can, therefore, be
seen as a tool for social interaction (Chapman 1983).
Nigeria, one of the most populated African nations
has been recognised among the top-ten happiest
people on the continent. According to Helliwell,
Layard, and Sachs’s (2017) World Happiness Report,
the country is the sixth happiest nation in Africa and
ninety-fifth in the world (p. 21). In March 2018, the
Report sees Nigeria moved from its previous position
to fifth in Africa and ninety-first in Africa (p. 24).
Some of the variables used in both reports include
the Gross Domestic Growth (GDP), social support,
healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices,
generosity, corruption, et cetera. Considering the
daily news reports on the print and electronic media
in Nigeria and about Nigeria, which in recent times
are very unpleasant. It is surprising to discover that
Nigeria still ranks fifth among African happiest states.
This study, therefore, investigates Crisis-Motivated
humour (CMH) in Nigeria and explores its relevance as
a potential coping strategy. Specifically, the objectives
are to examine the nature of CMH and ideas conveyed
through it, identify CMH as a reference of a society’s
realities, and highlight the pragmatic acts in CMH.
In pragmatics and interrelated disciplines such as
discourse, psychology, linguistics, sociolinguistics,
anthropology, and medicine, there are numerous
studies pertaining to the mechanism and roles
of humour in interaction. Some of these include
McCreaddie & Wiggins (2007), Clarke (2009), Tsakona
(2015), Filani (2015), Eleboda (2014), Nneji (2013),
Nereus (2012), Dynel (2011), Rowen (2010), Clarke
(2009); Ross (1998). Some of these contributions are
briefly explored.
Clarke (2009) attempted a description of humour
using pattern recognition theory. He argued that
humour is effectively an information-processing
system which is consequently applicable to any data,
whether externally perceived or internally stored. He
identified some patterns, which in his estimation give
a description of humour. Ross (1998) investigated the
relationship between humour and social attitudes –
the status of the targets of humour, the joke tellers and
the audience – alongside the social aspects of humour.
His study serves as a contribution to the debate about
‘political correctness’ and censorship of humour.
Filani (2016) examined stand-up comedy using
discourse theory, which is viewed as having a
complementary relationship to the activity type. Both
were construed as having a lot in common with “acts”
in pragmatics. Relying on Nigerian stand-up comedy as
samples, he selected two comedians so as to examine
the choice of linguistic code, stereotyping, salutation
among others. He affirmed that these comedians
employed discourse type as communicative actions
to achieve humorous reactions from their audience.
Eleboda (2014) investigated humour in advertising
in Nigeria from the psychological point of view. This
takes into account the influence which humourous
advertising has on consumers’ behaviour. The study
deployed the use of a questionnaire to identify
demographic variables of respondents and to measure
the influence. Focusing on the telecommunication
companies’ humorous advertisements, the scholar
averred that humorous advertisement is effective for
creation of affection among consumers in Nigeria.
He also emphasised that consumers have a positive
disposition to products whose advert were humorously
packaged. Delving into the aspect of gender, Eleboda
claimed that women are more likely persuaded by a
humorous advertisement than men.
Further, Nereus (2012) studied jokes that were
incongruous with polite everyday interactions. An
attempt was made to understand the descriptions
and functions of humour through three theories:
incongruity, superiority, and relief. He explained the
relevance of each to the study, proposing that studies
of humour have a lot of potential owing to its human
values and aesthetics, and found its widespread use
in Nigeria. Nneji (2013) approaches humour research
using a semantic and pragmatics lens. His focus
was the perception of Nigerian jokes as humour
construction. In the study, he examined everyday jokes
that Nigerian citizens expressed on Nairaland, a social
media platform. The identity of the users was left
anonymous. Drawing on the incongruity theory, Nneji
affirmed that jokes depict the socio-cultural life of the
Nigerian people. However, the study does not address
the motivations for these jokes.
Tsakona (2015) focused on the social functions
of joke telling with an emphasis on the speakers’
strategies in conveying political humour and
their spontaneous comments. He sought “a more
comprehensive approach to the analysis of political
(or other) jokes” (2015, p. 287) by examining extracts
about the Greek debt crisis. In fact, this study points
towards crisis-motivated humour even though the
term CMH was not applied in the study. Further,
Tsakona construed political jokes as those that serve
certain social functions. Among other issues, he
highlighted the trends of political jokes deriving from
oppressive governments, an emphasis on content, and
preference for decontextualized texts from printed
collections. In addition, he said:
Nowadays, modern technology and media
allow us not only to collect contemporary
political (or other jokes), but also to gather
evidence on how jokes are disseminated and,
most importantly, on the reasons why they
are circulated and on the social functions
they serve, as conceptualized by the speakers
(Tsakona, 2015, p. 292).
The present study draws on these sources in
analyzing how jokes function in three dimensions.
First, the motivations for the jokes; second, the
platforms where they are generated; third, the
effects (overt and covert) they have on the audience.
In seeking to understand these three dimensions, I
investigate social media jokes that are motivated by
the socioeconomic, and political realities in Nigeria as
a dynamic society as well as a developing democratic
CMH as a form of informal humour
Although most scholars (such as Moalla, 2015;
Chapman, 1983; Dynel, 2011; Nereus, 2012; Vivona,
2014) in humour studies are in unison regarding the
fact that jokes are generated from incongruous social
experiences, many studies on humour focus mainly
on the first two of the three possible varieties of
humour:,formal, non-formal, and informal humour.
Humour is perceived as formal in a situation where
the occasion is strictly formal and the primary
purpose of the event is not just to merely evoke
laughter. Examples include audience at national day
celebrations, business forums, political meetings,
corporate meetings, and many others. Non-formal
humour can refer to any gathering organised for the
main purpose of being entertained. These include
weddings, birthdays, television drama series, home
movies, reality shows, comedy shows and many others.
Here, the person evoking such humour is conscious of
the audience, and he/she is doing this so as to fulfil
the overt goal of entertaining the audience. Here, the
performer and the audience are limited in terms of the
space and time. The motivation for this kind of humour
is the remuneration or reward for the entertainer.
The third form, informal humour, is often
spontaneously evoked for the sake of bantering. This
will include jokes between friends, husband and
wife, parents to their children, teachers to students
in a classroom, to name just a few. There is no direct
incentive for the person evoking such other than
the fulfilled feeling of having lightened the mood of
others through the evocation of smiles or laughter. In
some other instances, it can be evoked to just release
built-up emotions as a result of undesirable social and
environmental experiences (Holmes and Marra, 2002).
Apart from the fact that informal humour has
been under-researched, there is a dearth of literature
especially on one aspect of informal humour, namely
crisis-motivated humour (CMH). CMH, in this study,
refers to social or political jokes that are constructed
to express the composers’ experience of challenging
situations in their environments. In other words, CMH
is any joke created as a coping strategy for difficult
social or political experiences of a people. Such
difficulties include any issue that brings about some
psychological crisis in the people, and as a means of
cushioning the effects, the people experiencing the
difficulties resort to humour construction. How this
is carried out will be examined alongside the different
subjects that convey the experiences.
Materials and Methods
This study is analysis-driven and examines online
content. The data analyses were carried out manually.
These data were semantically verified according to the
researcher’s classification of CMH. Further information
regarding the sample, research instruments, and
research procedures is provided below.
The samples collected for the study were taken
from social media. All of these were purposefully and
specifically extracted from two popular social media
platforms in Nigeria: Facebook and WhatsApp. These
two platforms were selected due to the high number of
Nigerians using them. Across Nigeria, there is hardly
anyone with an internet-enabled mobile phone or
computer that does not have an account with one of
these platforms. Those few who are not users are often
fed with stories by their friends, associates, wards or
family members about happenings around the nation
and the world, based on information derived from one
of these social platforms.
From each of the selected platforms, 15 samples
rendered in the English language and Nigerian
Pidgin were collected. Thus, a total of 30 anonymous
humorous compositions (jokes) were randomly
collected for analysis in this study. These jokes were
those posted on Facebook and WhatsApp between
January 2014 and January 2017. Many of the jokes are
often recycled and, as a result, their original creators
are difficult to identify. The specific age of users on
the WhatsApp handle cannot be ascertained. However,
according to the Facebook policy on users’ age1, it can
be inferred that the age of users whose jokes were
collected for this study ranges between 13 and 45
above. Specifically, through a background check on
users’ profile, seven of the jokes collected were from
female users while the remaining nine were from
male on Facebook. All users in the study are literate in
Internet-enabled mobile phones/computers.
To achieve the study’s objectives, analyses were
carried out following the frame of the Ethnography
of Communication (EoC) alongside Mey’s pragmatic
act theory (PAT) (2001). The PAT, on its own, is
generally represented with an illustration known as
the pragmeme2. Prior to the analysis, a discussion on
the EoC and PAT were carried out to demonstrate how
they apply to the study. Further, the data collection
procedure was briefly explained. The analysis provided
varying topical angles to CMH as exhibited in the
Nigerian narratives.
Being a study based on online content analysis,
internet-enabled personal computers (PC) and
mobile telephones were used. For the corpus from
WhatsApp, PC web version 0.2.9737 was used having
been paired with GBWhatsApp v6.30 version 2.18.46.
This facilitated the copy-and-paste method as well
as the storage procedure. Data from Facebook were
collected using only the PC. The corpus from the two
social media platforms was pasted in a Microsoft-Word
document and saved for the purpose of this study.
The data for the study were deliberately selected
from social media posts (Facebook and WhatsApp)
whenever there was a major crisis in Nigeria. Among
these crises were the scarcity of fuel, labour union
strikes, economic recession, increase in suicide
attempts, national treasury looting, insurgent attacks,
poor health facilities, among others. In each instance,
this researcher used the copy-and-paste method to
save the jokes on a personal computer for later use.
To sustain their originality, the collected jokes were
left unedited. The selected texts were analysed in line
with the SPEAKING acronym propounded in Hymes’
Ethnography of Communication while Mey’s (2001)
PAT (otherwise known as the pragmeme) was used
to identify the pragmatic acts (practs) and the role of
contexts in the selected texts.
Ethnography of Communication and Pragmemic
assumptions of Mey (2001)
Hymes’ Ethnography of Communication (EoC) is
popularised through the acronym of SPEAKING. The
theory emphasizes communicative competence, in
2 Mey, J. L. (2001). Pragmatics, an introduction. Oxford: Blackwell
Publishing. p. 222
reaction to Chomsky’s distinction between linguistic
competence and linguistic performance (see Hymes,
1976). The assumption is that the EoC is capable of
analysing a communicative event within the wider
context of the social and cultural practices and beliefs
of the members of a particular culture or speech
community. Cameron (2001) maintains that EOC
accounts for communicative form, which may include
but is not limited to spoken language and its function
within the given culture. In the acronym, the S refers
to the setting, which indicates the appropriateness of
time. The next letter in the acronym, P stands for the
relationship that exists between the interactants. E
which stands for Ends is a reference to the important
goals to be achieved in the communicative event, which
can be planned or unplanned. I presume that the goals
can both be overt and covert within the context of CMH
and some other types of humour. Letter A indicates
the acts sequence and K for Key. The former involves
what is said, where and how. The latter has to do with
the speakers’ extra-linguistic features (understood
through the mental posture, tone) and manner of
presentation of the jokes presented. These two, acts
and keys, have a complimentary relevance to the
pragmemic assumption in pragmatics. PAT advances
the notion of the speech act theory propounded by
John Austin and John Searle (Mey, 2001, p. 219). Here,
the context in which linguistic items are deployed with
regards to the speaker (or writer), the participants (or
target audience) and on what occasion are important to
the understanding of meanings in the communicative
event. In another sense, the specific communicative
situation and the adopted attitudes inform how the
intended message is understood.
Mey’s pragmatic act notion, which is conveyed
diagrammatically and referred to as the pragmeme,
exemplifies “the various choices that the language
user has at his or her disposal in communicating”
(Mey, 2001, p. 222). The emphasis in pragmatics is,
therefore, based on the notion of context. Odebunmi
defines context as “the condition that constrains the
determination of the propositions of an utterance or the
understanding of an event or discourse” (Odebunmi,
2016, p. 13). Context is identified from the cognitive,
linguistic, situational, and social perspectives. All these
are relevant to the CMH texts. The cognitive context
points towards the state of mind of the participants in
a discussion. The basis for the linguistic context has to
do with the interrelatedness of text, or co-texts. The
situational context has to do with the location where
language is used, while the social context refers to the
constraints imposed on meaning and understanding
of events by communicative encounters (Odebunmi,
2016, pp. 14-16).
Furthermore, the I of the EoC acronym, which stands
for instrumentalities, is concerned with the channels
through which communication is impacted. This can
be in the form of writing, speaking and the adoption of
signs and symbols. In this study, the identified channel
is social media with specific attention to Facebook and
WhatsApp. Norms, represented by the acronym N, refer
to the attitudes of participants according to the given
situation and setting. This accounts for mannerism
and the allowance of the use of certain expressions
including linguistic code-mixing in communication.
Norms, therefore, have a close link with the culture of
the situation in which certain linguistic behaviours are
exhibited. The last letter of the acronym is the G for
genre. This points to the fact that utterances can be
categorised into different types or classes.
Results and Discussion
Analyses of data for the study are structured
according to the study’s objectives, namely: nature
of CMH and ideas conveyed through it, CMH as a
reference of a society’s realities, and pragmatic acts in
CMH construction. One of the adopted theories, EoC,
is applied to the data and is broken down into two
parts: the SPEA and KING parts of the EoC SPEAKING
acronym. The SPEA part of the EoC is combined
with the pragmemic analysis with the corresponding
titles. The other part of the analysis is presented in
an abridged version of the EoC and pragmatic act
application. However, the pragmatic imports of these
jokes were outlined so as to understand their functions.
CMH on (Un)employment
Employment is a very important aspect of every
society, most especially concerning youth. This topic
features prominently in the Nigerian construction of
CMH. An example is given below.
Extract 1
Teacher: who is the president of Nigeria?
Children: Nnamdi Azikiwe
Teacher: good!!
Who is the minister of defence?
Children: Bukola Saraki
Teacher: correct!!
What is the capital city of Nigeria?
Children: Benin City
Teacher: very good!!
Who composed the national anthem?
Children: Timaya
Teacher: Excellent!!
If the people from Nigeria are called Nigerians,
How will you call the people from Moscow?
Children: Mosquitoes
Teacher: Wow!!
Then, 2+5 will give you wat?
Children: 25
Teacher: perfect!!
You will remain stupid like
this until your government increases my salary.
Don’t spoil the fun, send it to ur friends.😂😂😂
The extract above within the tradition of EoC (from
the S to A parts of the SPEAKING acronym, others
will be collectively discussed in subsequent analysis)
implies that the setting is Nigeria, based on the initial
question posed by the teacher. Here, it is assumed
the students should be able to provide the answer.
However, they fail and provide another name, one who
was actually a President in the historical past of the
nation. The pragmatic import of this presupposes that
the pupils are lagging behind with regards to knowledge
acquisition. Note that the responses were collectively
allocated to the character as children rather than as
individual pupils with identifiable names. The reason
for this is revealed in the concluding part of the joke
where the teacher implicitly requests and demands an
increase in her/his remuneration from her employers.
As a result, the pract of requesting and demanding
is demonstrated. Although this is construed as a
joke, it indicates that the teachers in the nation are
poorly paid. The movement for a pay rise is, in fact, a
recurring topic. The joke thus covertly paints a picture
of the state of education in the country.
Regarding the participants, the overt participants
are the imaginary teacher and her/his students. In
the covert consideration, the participants will include
every Nigerian from the middle-class downward whose
child is enrolled in any government-run schools. It
should be noted that the complaint of the teacher in
the context is the lack of salary increments, hence
her/his nonchalance to their errors. Again, within the
pragmatic act tradition, the pract of abandoning was
evoked. Here, the students were abandoned in their
ignorance without recourse to their future. Recall that
the E letter indicates the ends of the communicative
event. In the text above, although the overt end is
an evocation of humour, the covert end is a form of
protest. In this sense, the protesting pract is deployed.
In Extract 1 above, some of the acts include those
of requesting, abandoning and protesting. Through
the co-texts, inference is found in relation to the
repetitive reference to Nigeria. The voice points to
that of an oppressed worker who is now oppressing
others as a result of an unpleasant work situation. The
second extract shares some similarities.
Extract 2
Do you know any GRADUATE with 1st Class, 2.1 or
2.2 in any of the following fields:
Geography, Geology, Geophysics, Physics,
Medicine, Health Sciences, Computer Science,
Tailoring Technology, Engineering Sciences,
Agriculture Sciences, Geography Education,
Law, Mass Communication,
Political Science, Sociology,
History or any other Arts courses?
*Can they speak English fluently? *Can they write
*Are they willing to relocate to Canada? *Do they
have computer skills?
Alright. Please, greet them for me. Happy Easter.
Going through the texts above, the setting in the
meta-linguistic context is a job advertisement. In
the pseudo advert, one is taken through the details
of a job vacancy, which virtually every educated
person (participants) would be qualified to apply for.
However, the composer reveals the real intention (end)
only at the end, which is to satirize the challenge of
unemployment in the country and the attendant rat-
race that follows it. Through this composition, practs
of arousing (interest and hope), of mocking, and of
equating were exhibited. The introductory part of
the text arouses the readers but later mocks them
towards the end. It suggests that everyone is desirous
of a good-paying job and elicits the fantasy of travel
abroad resonant among citizens.
Both of the above extracts and the ensuing analysis
point to the fact that employment and unemployment
are recurring subjects in the Nigeria public discourse.
This conveys the idea that it is a common practice for
the employed to seek pay rises why the unemployed
dream of a well-paid position. The composers of
these jokes use the current situation in Nigeria for
a humorous communication that conveys a socio-
political message.
CMH on premium placed on human lives
Nigeria has a communal-based society and much
value is placed on the well-being of each member;
in other words, citizens share in each other’s joy
and sorrow. However, with the advent of modern
technologies, communal-living is fast fading and
people are now more socially isolated. One consequence
of this, in the recent years, has been an increase in
cases of suicide. Although, technologies like mobile
phones and the virtual worlds of the internet and the
social media cannot be wholly held responsible, they
do encourage a ‘mind your own business’ mindset.
Turbulent economic situations in Nigeria are also a
contributing factor is the rise in suicide rates. Social
media is replete with references to this situation and,
in some cases, mobilizes humour as a way of coping
with the social problem. Consider the extract below.
Extract 3
Na wa oo3 person no go make calls again near
I just parked my car near 3rd mainland bridge
to answer an urgent call and over 100 vehicles
parked and the occupants begging me not to do it!
That they will help me with whatever problems I
They thought I wanted to jump and commit
suicide! As a sharp4 person, I quickly told them
I’m owing somebody 20m!5
Come see alert for my phone as them gather
money to stop me from jumping
Chie6 this one na good business oo it’s better than
MMM7 wey they give help. I will go to another
bridge tomorrow. Laugh the stress of the day away.
From the joke, the usual Nigerianness of the setting
is introduced. This time through the utilisation of the
Pidgin English: “Na wa oo person no go make calls
again near bridges”. The participants are imaginary
readers of the text. The narrative style is employed
to sustain and arouse the readers’ curiosity. Here,
the readers’ shared situation knowledge (in Mey’s
pragmeme) comes to bear. The reader can easily relate
with the co-texts such as “near 3rd mainland bridge”
etc. The humorous dimension is introduced by the
imaginary and exaggerated “100 vehicles” and their
“occupants” who were begging “not to do it”. Here the
expression “not to do it” is a pragmatic reference to
the act “suicide”. The further explanation about the
“help” “with whatever problems I have” in the extract
reveals the covert end as well as the overt. While the
overt is just to amuse through the pract of telling
or amusing, the other is a reminder that the general
situation in the country still makes others assume
someone might attempt suicide. The overt end is
enhanced more as a result of the fabricated donations
made by the passersby. Extract 3 is replete with practs
of exaggeration and suggestion (to the readers to
consider the prank). The covert end foregrounds the
suicide attempt as well as expresses the premium
place on the lives of others by fellow citizens.
CMH on education, government policies and
3 Nigerian slangy expression used as an exclamation when one is in a
bad or pathetic situation. When divided into two separate words, “Na”
means “It is” and “Wao” could directly imply “woe”.
4 Smart person
5 Million in Nigerian currency called Naira
6 Exclamation
7 A money doubling scheme that has no legal backing in the country’s
banking system
Politics and policies are like the Siamese twins.
They are hardly separable. Consequently, people’s
perception of policies is usually linked with the
policymakers. In Nigeria, some policies of the
government are popularised through the comic
dimension introduced by the people. It is also a
reflection of how such is viewed. Take the extract
below for example.
Extract 4
Admission! Admission!! Admission!!!
I am pleased to announce the launch of
our inaugural Whistle Blowing certificate
programmes listed below: EFCC8
- 6-month Diploma in Whistle Blowing (DWB):
This crash-course programme will equip you
with the ability to spot suspected houses
where stolen funds are kept. With this degree,
you will be able to spot Naira stashes kept
behind walls.
- 3-year Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) Degree in
Whistle Blowing: Smart people don’t keep
stolen funds in Naira. So why should you go
about looking for Naira loot? This programme
equips you with the aided ability to spot all
looted foreign currencies.
- 18-month M.Sc Degree in Whistle Blowing:
The looters have become masters, and that is
why you also need to be a master at whistle
blowing. Take your whistle-blowing ability
to the next level with our M.Sc. Spot looted
local and foreign currencies in Houses (Mud or
Modern) Safes (Fire or Water proof), Wells (Wet
or Dry) Caskets (Cemetery or Burial Ground).
- 3-year Doctor of Philosophy in Whistle
Blowing: Looters understand the importance
of leaving no trails, and have now employed
digital currencies in looting. With this degree,
you will be able to decipher owners of Bitcoin
wallets with looted funds. You don’t even have
to leave your house scouting for houses like
a real estate agent, or burial grounds like an
undertaker. Simply sit behind a computer like
a Yahoo Yahoo boy and earn whistle blowing
$$$ easily.
Director of Recruitment,
Oju Ole9 University
The extract above is patterned on a tertiary
education enrolment notice, with the speaker taking
on the pragmatic voice of authority, like that of the
8 A body established by the Nigerian government to prosecute oend-
ers of economic and nancial crimes. In full, it means the Economic
and Financial Crimes Commission.
9 Oju Ole literally means “the face of the thief”
Registrar. The overt intention is to call for potential
university students to apply for officially non-existing
courses. In the Nigerian situation, demand for higher
education outweighs its supply. This joke makes use
of that reality to produce humour. As a result, the
pract of providing is used as the overt end. In between
the lines of texts at the covert level, the joke satirizes
the newly introduced “whistle-blower policy”, a
policy that promises a cash reward to anyone who
helps the government expose stashed money as a
result of corruption. This also assists in the aspect of
awareness-raising with regards to the policy; thus, the
pract of informing is also enacted. The dimension of
CMH in this text is that it helps to identify corruption
as one of the major challenges facing Nigeria.
Again, the complexity of the anti-corruption
struggle is creatively construed in the joke. An analysis
of the text shows that there are different categories for
the advertisement: it ranges from enrollment in the
diploma programme, to a bachelor degree, up to the
doctoral degree certification.
The reference to “Director of Recruitment, Oju Ole
University” is a recognition of the widespread hatred
for corruption. “Oju Ole” here literally means the
face of (a) thief University and connotatively implies
a university that trains students on how to catch the
corrupt ones. This is also a pragmatic inference that
corruption is the enemy of the nation’s development.
The composer of the joke displays a good and
appreciable understanding of the technology-
based corruption, which requires solutions that
are technology-driven. The co-texts with reference
to “Yahoo-Yahoo boy” who “simply sit(s) behind a
computer” are references to other cases of corruption
found in the country. Through this, corruption can
be implicitly construed as a crisis that impacts on
societal politics and its policies. It is a popular topic of
social discourse among Nigerian citizens, and fighting
corruption requires some level of skill and temerity.
CMH on security and health
Security is an important aspect of every society. A
safe society will likely be considered a healthy society.
The subjects of security and health are considered
important in Nigeria. These are expressed in the daily
discourse of Nigerians and are, therefore, one of the
topics for joke telling. Consider the following extract
which displays humour related to public security:
Extract 5
A local FM Radio station was running a contest,
and I phoned up.
The Radio presenter said, “Congratulations
on being our first caller, all you have to do is
answer the following question correctly, to win
our grand prize.”
“That’s fantastic!” I shouted in delight.
“Feel confident?” she asked. “It’s a maths
“Well, I am an Engineer and have been teaching
and practicing maths for almost 10 years, I
proudly replied.
“Ok then, to win our grand prize of 2 return
tickets for an adventurous trip to Sambisa10
forest and an opportunity to meet Shekau and
the chibok Girls Face to Face, What is 2+2?”
I replied, “7”.
Among some of the jokes selected, the above is
unique for its wit through the composer’s combination
of dialogue and narrative. It conveys the excitement of
“winning” in the first instance, here the caller employs
the pract of rejecting when told about the nature of
the prize he would get: “a trip to Sambisa” “to meet
Shekau and the chibok Girls Face to Face”, upon
correct answer to the question. At the other end of the
imaginary “radio presenter”, the intention was to get
the “caller” scared owing to the reality of the dreaded
Sambisa forest, a forest in the northeastern part of
Nigeria which was allegedly previously held by an
insurgent group led by Shekau. The joke above conveys
the idea of multiple role-playing in jokes. Although
the overt end achieves humour, the covert end evokes
the pract of scaring. This is revealed by the deliberate
refusal of the “caller” to give the correct answer. Here
the avoidance strategy employed implies a trip to the
“forest” is equally avoided. It thus conveys a desire of
the citizens to have a secure nation irrespective of the
On the understanding of Nigerian citizen’s
perception of health, the following extract provides
some insight.
Extract 6
Nigerian nurses make Pregnancy look like a
criminal offense, and the worse thing is that
they are everywhere, both in Private and
Government Hospitals.
For Instance, when a woman who is in labour is
being brought to the Hospital, they will throw
her into the so-called “Labour Room” and lock
her up like a criminal awaiting trial and they
will go to the reception and gossip or go into
the Doctor’s Office until the woman begins to
scream like the world is coming to an end.
And when they go to meet her, it is not to help
her, but to insult her: “You go dey hear things
10 Name of the forest in Nigeria in which the insurgent group Boko
Haram were believed to be hiding and planning their attacks against
the country.
Na me do you?
When e dey sweet you, I dey there?
The man wey do u nor dey here o!
Madam push o!
Abeg open your leg joor!
Abi you wan kill ur pinkin?
You better push now or else I go leave you here
The understanding of the setting of the subject
in the EoC tradition is made clear in the opening
sentence. Here, the narrative technique is employed
to describe the “Labour Room”. The author of the joke
did not exhibit a direct involvement in the story, but
rather she/he simply conveys the assumed situation
reported in a typical hospital’s delivery room, in “both
Private and Government Hospitals”. While the overt
intention remains the same as in other similar cases,
to evoke humour, the covert intention is to satirize
the typical disposition of health workers in Nigeria
by conveying the lack of sophistication on the part
of the healthcare attendants during the delivery of a
child. In order to make the joke believable, the author
switches codes into pidgin English and assumes the
role of the imaginary nurses. Through this, the pract
of telling was employed. The telling pract also conveys
the face-threatening act on the part of the imaginary
nurse or doctor in dealing with the imaginary woman
in the “Labour Room”. Seen from another perspective,
the joke can also be seen to connote through the
author’s utilisation of the shared situation knowledge
to emphasise her/his message that the childbearing
process (and by extension other activities) is difficult
for citizens.
CMH on leaders and the economy
A joke is often at the expense of another person
whose weakness is being foregrounded” (Nereus
2012: 3). In this vein, CMH is a veritable tool for
understanding and expressing citizens’ perception of
their leaders, as illustrated in the example below.
Extract 7
. . . . . . Some former leaders died and went to hell.
The British leader asks the devil to allow him to
make a phone call to London to know the welfare
of his people. He spends five minutes. Satan bills
him $5000.The United States leader makes his
call for eight minutes and Satan bills him $8000.
The Nigerian leader calls Abuja and spends two
hours. He is briefed about the fuel trouble, Boko
Haram, kidnapping, budget brouhaha and the
anti-corruption war.
After his call, he asks Satan, ‘How much is my
bill?’ Satan replies: ‘Your bill is $1.’
Surprised, the Nigerian leader says: ‘How come my
own call is cheaper than the other two leaders’? I
stayed longest on the phone.
Satan, smiling, replies: “What’s the difference?
Calling hell from hell is not expensive; it’s a local
The joke above addresses the issues of leadership
and the economy. In the opening part, it presupposes
that “some former leaders died and went to hell”, which
presents the pract of affirming. Hell is believed (among
many religious adherents) to be a place of torment
for sinners. In the Nigerian narrative, corruption is a
sin. In the light of this, the message being conveyed
is that “some of the former leaders” who “died” have
gone “to hell”. However, these (Nigerian) leaders were
not isolated to be the only category of people in Hell.
Hence “the British leader” and “United States leader”
were also occupying a spot in Hell. Through these
co-texts, the pract of identifying and associating are
implied. Based on the narration, when it gets to the
turn of the Nigerian leader to make a call, he spends
more time on the phone. Here, this narrative was
informed by the intention of the author to relay the
numerous “troubles” plaguing the country, including
“Boko Haram, kidnapping, budget brouhaha and the
anti-corruption war”. Within this strategy, the covert
end of the joke is overtly enhanced. To provide a more
dramatic exposure of the country’s assumed reality,
the author equates the nation to Hell through the
reply given by “Satan” to the Nigerian leader: “What’s
the difference? Calling hell from hell is not expensive;
it’s a local call.” From the perspective of the composer,
Nigeria is no different from Hell, a place of torment
for sinners. This view is likely to be widespread given
the humour it elicits. In Extract 6, some of the other
identifiable practs include informing, condemning,
mocking, and mimicking.
CMH and the KING of EoC
Recall that most of the analysed data represented
the S to the A (SPEA) parts of the EoC acronym. The
remaining parts (KING) are summarized below.
K- In the context of the CMH analysed, the key
is English (official language) with a blend of pidgin
and some Nigerianisms. This is to enhance the
dissemination of the jokes. Examples are Labour Room,
Yahoo-Yahoo, EFCC, pinkin, joor.
I- The social media serves as the major channel for
disseminating these jokes. The channel is regarded as
the instrument in the EoC context.
N- Refers to the norm observable in the data. Here,
they are replete with the use of first-person personal
pronouns “I”. This is to enforce the truthfulness of the
jokes and also to exaggerate. The norm in the CMH
also includes the peculiar use of certain expressions
through pidginization and Nigerianism.
Another feature noticeable in the “norm”
consideration of CMH among Nigerians is grammatical
errors, including the omission or insertion of definite
or indefinite articles, spelling errors and incorrect use
of adjectives. See extracts 2 and 5, among others.
G- In the genre consideration, the CMH is construed
as a form of humour that belongs to the informal type.
The table below summarizes these in the tradition of
the EoC and the pragmatic references or functions.
The study examined CMH as a genre of humour.
The nature of jokes in CMH is mainly a combination
of informal and non-formal categories of humour. On
WhatsApp, when CMH is shared with a fellow user, it
takes on the nature of the informal category because of
the intention to amuse the reader. However, when it is
shared in a WhatsApp group or as a Facebook timeline
update, it quickly reaches a larger and wider audience,
and takes on an entertaining intention on these
platforms. As a result, CMH can also be categorized
as a non-formal humour. Hence, by nature, it is an
informal-non-formal genre of humour. However, it
is not and cannot be categorised under the formal
humour genres.
The pragmatic function of CMH included the use
of the textual part and the psychological act of the
pragmemic activity. All these produced various practs
such as amusing, narrating, informing, (implicit)
lamenting, satirizing, and relieving (of tension). The
pragmatic implication is that at the covert level, the
jokes serve as a coping strategy, providing a pragmemic
voice of invective, approval, support and/or protest
against government policies. The pragmatic relevance
of CMH is embedded in its social functions as it serves
as an indicator of the sense of citizens’ freedom and a
note of warning to the corrupt and inefficient leaders
in Nigeria.
The context of CMH construction presents it as a
satire of the social, economic and political experiences
of the people. In essence, it reveals the socioeconomic
and political realities in a particular historical period of
the nation, unveiling perceptions through the “fingers
and minds” of Nigerian citizens. CMH, therefore,
refers to a genre of humour that is specifically meant
to offer relief from tension, help deal with difficult
and challenging situations, and to soften the impact
of difficulties experienced in everyday life. In other
words, CMH serves as a reference to social realities and,
as such, is a compilation of jokes that are potentially
psychologically beneficial. The understanding of
CMH as a humorous reaction to Nigerian realities is,
therefore, invaluable to the understanding of humour,
humour studies and their relevance in the social
discourse of contemporary Nigeria.
Aboudan, R. (2009). Laugh and learn: humor and
learning a second language. International Journal
of Arts and Sciences, 3(3), 90–99. Retrieved from
Attardo, S. (2017). Humour in language. Linguistics.
Retrieved from
Beeston, G., Urrutia, M. L., Halcrow, C., Xiao, X., Liu,
L., Wang, J., Kim, J. J. (2014). Humour reactions in
crisis: A proximal analysis of Chinese posts on Sina
Weibo in reaction to the salt panic of March 2011.
Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference
on World Wide Web (pp. 1043-1048). Seoul, Korea:
Cameron, D. (2001). Working with spoken discourse.
London, UK: Sage Publications.
Chapman, A. J. (1983). Humor and laughter in social
interaction and some implications for humor
research. In P. E. McGhee & J. H. Goldstein (Eds.),
Handbook of humor research. New York, NY:
Clarke, A. (2009) The eight patterns of humour. Cumbria,
UK: Pyrrhic House.
Davies, C. (2014). Political ridicule and humour under
socialism. European Journal of Humour Research,
2(3), 1-27.
Dean, R. A., & Major, J. E. (2008). From critical care
to comfort care: The sustaining value of humour.
Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17(8), 1088-1095.
Dynel, M. Ed. (2011). The pragmatics of humour across
discourse domains. Amsterdam, the Netherlands:
John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Dziegielewski, S. F., Jacinto, G. A., Laudadio, A., &
Legg-Rodriguez, L. (2003). Humor: An essential
communication tool in therapy. International
Journal of Mental Health Ethnopsychiatry, 32(3), 74-
Eleboda, S. S. (2014). Inventing humour advertising
as a competitive paradigm in the Nigerian GSM
Industry. International Journal of Behavioural Social
and Movement Sciences, 3(4), 64-70.
Filani, I. (2016). Humorous meaning strategies in
Nigerian stand-up comedy: An example of I Go Dye
performance. Papers in English and Linguistics, 17,
Hay, J. (2000). Functions of humor in the conversations
of men and women. Journal of Pragmatics, 32(6),
Helliwell, J., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. (2018). World
happiness report. Retrieved from http://
Helliwell, J., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. (Eds.). (2017).
World happiness report. Retrieved from http://
Holmes, J., & Marra, M. (2002). Having a laugh at work:
How humour contributes to workplace culture.
Journal of Pragmatics, 34(12), 1683–1710.
Hymes, D. (1976). Foundations in sociolinguistics: An
ethnographic approach. Philadelphia, PA : University
of Pennsylvania.
Marin-Arrese, J. I. (2005). Humour as subversion in
political cartooning. In M. Labarta Postigo (Ed.),
Approaches to critical discourse analysis (pp. 1-22).
Servei de Publicacions, Spain: Universitat de
València. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.
McCreaddie, M., & Wiggins, S. (2007). The purpose
and function of humour in health, health care and
nursing: A narrative review. Journal of Advanced
Nursing, 61(6), 584–595.
Mey, J. L. (2001). Pragmatics, an introduction. Oxford,
UK: Blackwell Publishing.
Meyer, J. C. (2000). Humor as a double-edged sword:
Four functions of humor in communication.
Communication Theory, 10(3), 310-331.
Moalla, A. (2015). Incongruity in the generation and
perception of humor on Facebook in the aftermath
of the Tunisian revolution. Journal of Pragmatics,
25, 44-52.
Mora-Ripoll, R. (2010). The therapeutic value of
laughter in medicine. Narrative Review, 16(2), 56-
Morreall, J. (1997). Humour in the Holocaust: Its
critical, cohesive and coping functions. Retrieved
Mulkay, M. (1989). On humour, its nature and place in
modern society. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Nereus, Y. T. (2012). The art of incongruity: Interethnic
humour in Nigeria. Nigerian Journal of Policy
and Strategy, 17(2). Retrieved from https://www.
Nneji, O. M. (2013). Nigerian jokes as humour
construction: A semantico-pragmatic study.
International Journal of Research in Arts
and Social Sciences, 5. Retrieved from www.
Obadare, E. (2009). The uses of ridicule: Humour,
‘infrapolitics’ and civil society in Nigeria. African
Affairs, 108(431), 241–261.
Odebunmi, A. (2016). Language, context and society:
A theoretical anchorage. In A. Odebunmi & K.
A. Ayoola (Eds.), Language, context and society:
A Festschrift for Wale Adegbite (pp. 3-33). Ile-Ife,
Nigeria: Obafemi Awolowo University Press.
Ross, A. (1998). The language of humour. London, UK:
Rowen, R. (2010). I took the Mickey but now I’ll take the
piss: The marking of jocular mockery in Australian
English. Griffith Working Papers in Pragmatics and
Intercultural Communication, 3(2), 104-111.
Ruggieri, C. A. (1999). Laugh and learn: Using humor
to teach tragedy. The English Journal, 88(4), 53–58.
Retrieved from
Sopher, H. (1981). Laugh and learn. ELT Journal, 35(4),
431–436. Retrieved from
Southam, M., & Schwartz, K. B. (2004). Laugh and
learn: Humor as a teaching strategy in occupational
therapy education. Best Practices in Occupational
Therapy Education, 18(1-2), 57–70. Retrieved from
Tsakona, V. (2015). “The doctor said I suffer from
vitamin E deficiency”: Investigating the multiple
social functions of Greek crisis jokes. Pragmatics,
25(2), 287-313.
Vivona, B. D. (2014). “To laugh or not to laugh”:
Understandings of the appropriateness of humour
and joking in the workplace. European Journal of
Humour Research, 2(1), 1–18.
Wise, G. (2016). Ebola: The use of different humour types
on Twitter during the Ebola crisis (Unpublished
B.A. dissertation). Radboud University, Nijmegen,
EoC and the pragmatic references/functions in the studied CMH
CFeatures References/functions
SNigeria Adults across all ethnic groups
PNigerians Bridges the gap between the poor and the wealthy
EHumour Overt and Covert, to entertain and reflect the social,
economic, and political realities
APragmatic acts amusing, narrating, informing, (implicit) lamenting,
satirizing, relieving (tension)
KJokes anonymous and creatively constructed
ISocial media Facebook and Whatsapp
NNigerianisms, pidginization,
grammatical errors in the communicative principle tradition of pragmatics
GCMH For entertainment, protest, invective, etc
... Scholars have also made inputs on the types and scope of humour which reveal prominent forms on the formal and informal, when compared with studies on the formal typology. This categorisation is based on the incongruous social experiences of the speaker(s) and hearer(s) of the humorous expressions (Chapman 1983;Holmes & Marra 2002;Dynel 2009Dynel , 2011Nereus 2012;Vivona 2014;Akinola 2018). According to them, formal humour is the category prescribed in official events not primarily aimed at stimulating laughter from the audiences. ...
... These sociocultural motivations are conceived in the interpretational indicators that provide the clues from where 'other' meanings are derived. Humorous talks simultaneously perform numerous functions and are directed towards the achievement of multiple goals, which are often spontaneous and transient (Mindless 1971;Ross 1998;Meyer 2000;Hay 2000;Martin 2010;Dynel 2009Dynel , 2011Dynel , 2017Leslie 2015;Akinola 2018;Oluremi 2019). Humour is believed to function as a coping strategy, it releases tension and fear, promotes peer interaction and solidarity, attains to psychological needs, possesses therapeutic power and enhances relationships. ...
... Obadare's (2016) study is rather on humour, silence and civil society in Nigeria, but it provides a decrypted approach to the use of civil society in place of association. The other studies explore the political facet of humour in Nigeria, with the explications that humour in this dimension is created to satirise the political and economic realities of the nation (Akinola 2018;Oluremi 2019). What appears related to this study (although grossly inadequate) are mere media commentaries on Coronavirus which portray Nigeria as happy people (Ali 2020;Sobowale 2020). ...
Full-text available
The COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic (a global health emergency) following its ravaging spread and increasing death toll that led to the unprecedented multi-sectoral crisis and collateral damage. These, and the 'delay' in the discovery of reliable therapeutic medicines combined to generate rising fears and tension across the globe. To cope with these realities, discourse participants devised humorous expressions to create laughter, ease tension and melt fears. The paper seeks to examine the contextual usage of such humorous expressions used in Nigeria, particularly in Calabar, that denotes the sociolinguistic milieu, and shared knowledge and experience of the interactants. The study adopts Relief and Encryption Theories of Humour because the theories account for the situational appropriateness of the humorous expressions as "coping devices" in coherence with the cognitive, linguistic, situational and social contexts. Data were generated by means of participant observation in on-site and virtual interactions on social media platforms. Findings show that COVID-19 pandemic has exerted irresistible pressure on language resources that stimulated the creation of humorous expressions as coping mechanisms for the consequential circumstance. Specifically, the humorous expressions such as "happy wives", "sad husbands", "side chicks are hungry" among others were regularly and contextually deployed for comic reliefs and cognitive recreations to stimulate laughter in crisis. Linguistically, the expressions are devised English structures and other constructs with codemixed elements derived from the registers of several discourse domains that reflect the Nigerian sociolinguistic environment. The structures are therefore modeled to demystify the pandemic and unify interactants in order to ease tension and cope with the realities of the preventive and survival protocols.
... Any gathering organised for the main purpose of being entertained can refer to non-formal humour. These include weddings, birthdays, home movies, reality shows, comedy shows, TV drama series and many others (Akinola, 2018;Ogungbe & Omolobi, 2020). ...
Not only did the COVID-19 pandemic infect large parts of the world’s population, but it also affected the mass media and the internet. The pandemic has gone viral on the internet. On one hand, COVID-19 is frequently concerned with “i-memes”, or social media-based memes (also known as internet memes), a popular form of communication among users. How do these internet memes comment on the COVID-19 pandemic? This question will be answered through influential examples that reflect the crisis discourse. The COVID-19 pandemic also generated viral hoaxes, fake news, misinformation and puns regarding the origin, scale, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the virus, a phenomenon the World Health Organization describes as “infodemic”. Using a critical review of literature based on a thematic approach, this chapter analyses the common “conspiracy theory” associated with the COVID-19 pandemic circulated on social media platforms.
... Studies in humour are in unison regarding the fact that jokes are generated from incongruous social experiences, many studies on humour focus mainly on the first two of the three possible varieties of humour: formal, non-formal, and informal humour. Humour is perceived as formal in a situation where the occasion is strictly formal and the primary purpose of the event is not just to merely evoke laughter (Akinola, 2018). Examples include audience at national day celebrations, business forums, political meetings, corporate meetings, and many others. ...
Humour, an established means of reducing stress and tension, has attracted scholarly attention over the years. In the Nigerian discourse context, studies on Coronavirus-Motivated Humour (CMH) are relatively new. This paper investigates humour that reflect the social, economic and health challenges in Nigeria shared through the social media in order to identify CMH as a form of humour through which real-life experiences of other people can be understood. Insights are drawn from Mey’s (2001) Pragmatic Acts Theory to analyse a total of seven purposively selected humour on Coronavirus from social media, specifically Whatsapp and Facebook. The study found out that the pragmatic relevance of CMH is embedded in its social functions as it serves as an indicator of the sense of citizens’ freedom and a pract of warning to the corrupt and inefficient leaders in Nigeria, particularly on health facilities in the country. Also, the context of CMH construction presents it as a satire of the social, economic and health experiences of the people as it reduces and reinforces status differences as well as strengthens the feeling of connectedness among people. This is achieved through the practs of informing, satirizing and mocking. The paper concludes that humours do not only make people laugh, but also comment on certain societal maladies that finger the minds of Nigerian citizens. Keywords: Coronavirus, Humour, Social Media, Pragmatics and Lockdown.
... (Baym 1995: 0) Nowadays, there is little doubt that humour pervades digital communication in many different ways (e.g., gifs, memes, YouTube postings, etc.). This core role of humour in digital discourses is also reflected in the growing body of research devoted to it (see, among others, Shifman 2007Shifman , 2014Maíz-Arévalo 2015;Wen et al. 2015;Dynel 2016;Yus 2016Yus , 2017Marone 2017;Akinola 2018;Chiaro 2018). Contrary to what was originally thought, "the overall feeling is that humour is most at home online" (Chiaro 2018: 3). ...
The present study stems from previous work on self-presentation in What-sApp users' profile status. However, its main goal is to gauge other users' reactions to WhatsApp "humorous" statuses. In other words, do other users find statuses intended as humorous "funny"? To this purpose, the method-ological approach adopted is both quantitative and qualitative. For the quantitative stage, a survey was carried out where participants were presented with eight statuses intended (as reported by their creators) to be humorous. These eight statuses represented both male and female What-sApp users (four each) as well as different strategies to construct humour (e.g., intertextuality, wordplay, absurdity). After piloting the survey, it was launched online, and 142 participants carried it out. Findings show that humour does not always lead to the desired effect and can indeed trigger negative evaluations and/or perplexity on other interlocutors. As a result, the user's intended self-presentation as a witty, funny individual fails to hit its target and may contribute to other users' negative perception of their persona.
Is it okay to meme and laugh during the pandemic? What does laughter mean amidst moments of crises? This research explores laughter during health disasters and pandemics. It takes particular focus at the case of listeriosis and COVID-19 which both affected South Africa while only the latter affected Zimbabwe. The comparative study explores the use of memes in the two countries as important tools in health communication revealing, among other things, citizens’ fear of death, despondency as Black Social Media used its digital leisure, spaces and resources to challenge the system, that is, White monopoly capital and industry by critiquing the system via laughter and uncomfortable memes and commentary. Internet memes remain a central language in the digitally colonized space of human communication, and interaction help society critique, question, desensitize, rebel and correct itself. It also allows power to escape, play along or threaten the subjects and citizens, depending on the depth of citizenship in a given state.
Full-text available
The main objective of this article was to identify and analyse humorous strategies found in Nigerian stand-up comedy. Particularly, the illustrations were taken from the routines of a popular Nigerian stand-up comedian, I Go Dye. First of all, a case was made for humorous meanings. How humorous meanings were achieved in stand-up comedy performance was then explained. Analysis showed that I Go Dye, as a Nigerian stand-up comedian, adopted exaggeration, naming and labelling, self-praising, self-denigrating and retorts as strategies for expressing humorous meanings.
Full-text available
Learning a second language requires a " positive " classroom atmosphere. This research presents " humor " as an effective tool in creating the affective second language classroom, and in learning a second language. Students' views reveal favoritism towards using humor in learning a second language-(80%) reported that jokes help them pay more attention during class time, and (71%) pointed out that humor helps learning difficult material. Evidence in this research confirms, consistently with past studies, that the use of " humor " in ESL classrooms reduces tension, improves classroom climate, increases student-teacher rapport, and even facilitates learning. More specifically, students reported greater enjoyment of the learning process when humor is used. This research argues that " humor " has a positive effect on the language teaching setting in increasing motivation and success thereafter. Along with encouragement and praise, " humor " ought to be used by language teachers to make their classrooms more inviting and conducive to learning.
Full-text available
Theories of humour have attributed the creation and interpretation of humour to emotional and cognitive factors, involving arousal-relief mechanisms, hostility, and incongruity-resolution processes (Freud 1905; Koestler [1964]1989; Gruner 1997; Suls 1972). Linguistic theories have centered on the bisociation produced by two frames of reference, or the abrupt shift in scripts, triggered by ambiguity or contradiction (Raskin 1985; Attardo 1994). An essential ingredient in the humour process is the intentionality behind the joke, the 'raison d'etre' of the cartoon, as well as the intended emotional effects. This is clearly the case in political cartooning, where the combination of the emotional power of the drawing and the critical analysis of social and political issues creates a highly complex message (Ginman & von Ungern-Sterberg 2003). The present paper examines humour in political cartooning in Spain during the 1970s. The use of humour may be seen as a form of challenge of existing ideological and political structures (Mumby & Clair 1998).
In order for joking to actually have a function in the workplace, it must have a forum. There are many pieces of empirical research on humour in the workplace, however the notion of the appropriateness of joking behaviour is often overlooked. The time, place, and circumstances of when joking does or does not occur is related to the situated and contextual nature of humour and issues linked to the private/public domain often will delineate when humour is acceptable or not. When, where, and, most importantly, the permission to joke is important to the understanding of the functional nature of humour. In order to gain an understating of how workers understand the notion of appropriateness, a qualitative study of a very unusual group of workers, crime scene investigators, was undertaken. Tacit personal and organisational belief systems related to culture and learned normative behaviours help determine when and where joking is allowed or forbidden.
Socialism produces distinct forms of humorous ridicule that are relatively rare in capitalist, bourgeois democracies. These forms are arranged in a hierarchy that reflects the distribution of power in this type of social and political order, one which differs markedly from a bourgeois democracy or indeed even a traditional or dictatorial authoritarian society. Merely authoritarian societies lack the kind of over-riding ideology and central control of economic and cultural life that are the defining characteristics of socialism. Socialist humorous ridicule is cruel at the top; then comes an aggressive and admonishing, but in intention humorous, official ridicule employed by the state in pursuit of centrally defined political ends. Finally, there is the ridicule by ordinary people of the elite and the social order they have imposed on the masses who respond by spontaneously and autonomously inventing and circulating innumerable jokes and anecdotes. This pattern is a product of the exercise of a monopoly of political and economic power by the leaders of the Communist Party and the distinctive political inequality that characterises socialism, an inequality based not on ownership but on differential access to the power of the state. The rulers of merely authoritarian societies that were not socialist such as Franco’s Spain, Pinochet’s Chile or Afrikaner South Africa did not and could not attain the same kind of hegemony that was possible under socialism because there existed economic, religious, scientific and even legal institutions that enjoyed a substantial degree of independence from their political rulers. Accordingly, they did not exhibit to anything like the full extent the patterns of humour to be found under socialism. The aggregate patterns of humour in socialist societies must be treated not as interactions between individuals but as ‘social facts’ to be understood in relation to other social facts, notably the nature of political power, with both sets of social facts being contrasted with those to be found in the capitalist democracies that are the antithesis of socialism.
In modern analyses of humor and laughter, social scientists have begun to recognize the potential importance of social variables. But this recognition is by no means universal. For example, Berlyne (1972) alleged that because laughter can be generated in a solitary individual, “it seems doubtful that its prime significance is a social one” (p. 51). The view taken in this account is more in line with that of Hertzler (1970) who wrote of laughter: “[it] is a social phenomenon. It is social in its origin, in its processual occurrence, in its functions, and in its effects” (p. 28). That view borders on an extreme, but nonetheless humor’s social functions may be its most crucial for modern man. Humor can serve as a useful and convenient triggering device permitting laughter to serve a myriad of functions in a manner that is, at least physically, harmless.
Research on political jokes has more often than not concentrated on their content, which is related to, and interpreted in view of, the sociopolitical events and contexts that have given rise to the jokes investigated each time. The present study intends to suggest that there are other aspects of political joke-telling that could be taken into consideration when exploring its social functions and goals: First, the subgenres employed by speakers to convey their humorous perspectives on political issues; and, second, speakers’ spontaneous comments on the jokes under scrutiny. The variety of subgenres could be related to the diverse ways joke-tellers perceive and encode their everyday problems and political views. Speakers’ spontaneous comments on the content and effects of jokes could reveal why they consider such texts tellable and recyclable, as well as how they evaluate them. The political jokes analyzed here come from a large corpus of humorous material about the current Greek debt crisis and its sociopolitical effects on the Greek society. The analysis reveals the multifunctionality of such jokes: They convey a critical perspective on the current sociopolitical conditions in Greece, strengthen the solidarity bonds among Greek speakers, entertain them, and bolster their morale.