Nigerian stand-up comediennes performing femininity: A pragmatic analysis
Augustine University, Ilara-Epe | Chemnitz University of Technology
Nigerian stand-up comedy has attracted several investigations from different disciplinary perspectives; however,
there has been little research interest into the performance of femininity in the genre. Coming from pragmatics, this paper
analyses how Nigerian comediennes use the language of humour to (de)construct sociocultural perspectives on the female identity.
Data comprise purposively selected routines of three female comics while Kecskes’
(2014) approach to intention serves as the theoretical framework. Comediennes employ different pragmatic strategies
that reference their intention to reinforce or challenge the traditional image of femininity. Analysis reveals comediennes perform
the popular perspectives on femininity, which are enshrined in the wider sociocultural context of the country.
Studies on Nigerian stand-up comedy (NSC) (e.g. Adetunji 2013; Nwankwo 2019 etc.) and on gender in humour (e.g. Hay 2000; Chiaro
and Baccolini 2014; Ruiz-Gurillo and Linares-Bernabeu 2020) have yielded
fascinating findings. Despite the increasing literature on these areas, there has been little research into the performance of
femininity in NSC. Therefore, this article bridges the gap by examining the performance of femininity in the routines of Nigerian
stand-up comediennes. ‘Subversive humour’ is the technical term for referring to the performances of female comedians (Gilbert 2004) since stand-up comedy is conceptualised as a phallocentric and male-dominated
genre (Lockyer 2011; Adetunji 2016). The females
in stand-up comedy, therefore, use humorous enactments to subvert (and sometimes reinforce) the negative framing of women. This research
analyses how Nigerian female comedians use the language of humour to (de)construct sociocultural perspectives on femininity.
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