Program

African Humanities Program Dissertation Fellowships , African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships

Project

Theatrical Appraisal of Contemporary Nigerian Stand-Up Comedy

Project

Study of Nigeria’s Stand-Up Comedy as Theatre Using Theories in Anthropology, Theatre and Performance Studies

Department

English

Theatrical Appraisal of Contemporary Nigerian Stand-Up Comedy

Stand-up comedy has emerged in Nigeria as one of the most popular performance forms in recent times, rivaling the ‘Nollywood’ video film and clearly ahead of conventional theatre. However, in spite of its popularity, theatre scholars still elide stand-up comedy as unworthy of serious academic attention. What engenders the exclusion of stand-up comedy from the corpus of academic discourse in Nigeria today? Is this art form theatre? What traits make it either theatre or non-theatre? By answering these questions, this project lays bare the dramatic/theatrical aspects of Nigerian stand-up comedy and describes it as theatre, thereby extending the frontiers of theatre scholarship. It further argues that Nigerian stand-up comedy is a postcolonial art form being a (formerly) colonized people’s way of making their own cost-effective theatre—an analysis that will lead to a remapping of the boundaries of postcolonial epistemology.

Study of Nigeria’s Stand-Up Comedy as Theatre Using Theories in Anthropology, Theatre and Performance Studies

Popular genres like stand-up comedy and Nollywood (Nigeria's video film industry) have gradually taken over sites hitherto occupied by more conventional forms like theatre and cinema. Their ascendancy to prominence allies with the global transcendancy of pop culture like rap over classical, kitsch against regular arts, and the likes. However, in spite of its popularity, stand-up comedy has received little or no critical attention in Nigeria until very recently. This work will therefore provide a schorlarly enquiry on Nigeria's stand-up comedy, first as a postcolonial art form which accords new voices to the previously downtrodden; then as theatrical art imbued with all necessary elements like audience, space, performance and a performer. Homi Bhabha's postcolonial theory of hybridity will be deployed to explicate on the potpourri influences that Nigeria's stand-up art has had, whereas the duo of Eugenio Barba's Theatre Anthropology and Jerzy Grotowski's Poor Theatre are useful in designating stand-up arts as theatre. By purposive sampling, the stage acts of four Nigerian stand-up comedians--AY, Basket Mouth, I Go Die, and Klint da Drunk will be interrogated using close reading and performance analyses.