Ethnic Humor And The Dynamics Of Communication: Exploring Contemporary Africanness Through Three Stand-Up Comedy Shows

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School of Communication, Daystar University


ABSTRACT This qualitative case study explored contemporary Africanness within three comedy shows. Although humor is used in society as part of peripheral communication, deemed entertainment or unserious (Smith, 2009); it is a speech form that allows its users to pass on deeper, hidden messages about themselves or others. Stand-up comedy brings together a socio-economic group and comedians, binding those who have pro-social and anti-social goals through the boundaries formed in the stories. Humor is questioned as to its role in being a mirror of society. The research objectives led to the research questions, which asked: Which roles are African comedians playing in their comedic performances? What is the nature of the boundaries used by the humorists to negotiate their social worlds? How are Africans portrayed today? and What is the emergent theory of humor demonstrating ‘Africanness’? This study employed an interpretivist-constructivist paradigm, and a multi-methodological approach (combining interpretive inquiry, native inquiry, and ethnomethodology) to visually analyze three purposefully selected African comedy shows. Using cultural theories of communication and the Afrocentric model of communication, the Afro-Cultural Mulatto Theory of Communication (AMTC) was extended in this study. The study found that although the comedians used their personas to tell the story, they still used their persona to mask and reveal social tensions and issues with social institutions. The comedians were skilled in dynamically using verbal and nonverbal communication, and used mocking, stereotypes, and tropes to talk about their Africanness. The significant contribution of this study in the field of communication is the development of a grounded theory of African humor.


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Ethnic Humor, Dynamics Of Communication, Africanness, Comedy Shows


Bitrus-O. A,. (2023, Thesis). Ethnic Humor And The Dynamics Of Communication: Exploring Contemporary Africanness Through Three Stand-Up Comedy Shows. School of Communication, Daystar University