Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The intersection of the Nigerian national identity and popular culture has been overwhelmingly located in the Nigerian movie industry and the Afrobeats, the flourishing Nigerian popular music. Further, when intervention about the Nigerian national identity is located within standup comedy performances, such analysis is vastly linguistic analysis of the performance. Through the lens of performance studies, this dissertation extends the discussion of the Nigerian national identity to standup comedy performances. In addition to the linguistic analysis of select Nigerian standup comedy performances, this work considers the location, costumes of comic acts, and the settings of the performance studied. Simply, this dissertation analyses the performance holistically.

After decades of military rule, industrialized standup comedy in Nigeria exploded post-1999 when the country returned to its longest streak of democracy since independence in 1960. Consequently, this dissertation argues that Nigerian standup comedy re-invents hope and expresses outrage. The hope this work defends is a series of subjunctive possibilities of what the country could be if toxic ethnic and religious rivalry is eschewed, despite numerous postcolonial challenges bedeviling the nation. The outrage component of Nigerian standup comedy manifests through the boundary-pushing performances of the comics. What the performance data reveals is that the outrage manifests in two components: Nigerian comics express outrage when they use comic materials which would have attracted reprisals outside of a performance space. Comics express outrageous outrage when they call out in their performances leaders who fall short of leadership ethos through morally and ethically objectionable (non)actions and abdicating their constitutional responsibilities.

Arguing Nigerian standup re-invents hope and expresses outrage expands the analytical lens for studying the performance genre. This is in addition to how this work centers on national identity in Nigerian standup comedy.



Committee Chair

Fletcher, John