Accepted paper:

Political incorrectness in the stand-up acts of Basket Mouth and Trevor Noah


Izuu Nwankwọ (Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University )

Paper short abstract:

The thin line between abuse and amusement is such a treacherous one that comedians often have to tread them carefully in order to stir up mirth other than offence. This paper examines how Nigeria's Basket Mouth and South Africa's Trevor Noah appropriate specific stage mechanics in amusing audiences.

Paper long abstract:

For its diverse uses and relevance, humour has attracted overabundant multidisciplinary academic enquiries. In spite of the resultant research findings, it is yet to be clear what exactly makes humans laugh, basically because people laugh differently depending on various socio-cultural peculiarities. For these differences, humour performances like stand-up comedy have often stirred up controversies especially when jokes are taken badly. Also, for being essentially one of the most confrontational live performances (one in which the performer, not only addresses audiences directly, but insults or denigrates them for fun), stand-up comedy has been much criticised for abusive and politically-incorrect actions against individuals and groups. In this paper, I am interrogating the thin divide between abuse and humour within stand-up comedy, as well as the performance mechanics Nigeria's Basket Mouth (Bright Okpocha) and South Africa's Trevor Noah deploy in, not only keeping their audiences on the side of humour, but also in occasionally breaching the boundary into the realm of insult, defamation, denigration and slander, and still stir up mirth instead of repulsion. The preferred method of enquiry is performance analysis and textual reading of select recorded events of the duo which will take a theatrical perspective for its aptness in appreciating the ensemble relevance of embodied actions of the comedians against the backdrop of their performance ambience as well as costumes and other paraphernalia of stage enactments. One finds in these two fine humourists, a litany of stage artistry that enables them to abuse and amuse simultaneously.

panel Lang02
Limits and prospects of African humour