"By way of nuanced analyses of comic performances drawn from diverse national and cultural backgrounds this volume reveals in rich and fascinating detail the immense popularity of stand-up comedy in Africa. A must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about how jokes are staged, how mimicry is fused with mockery, and about what and why audiences laugh (not only) in Africa."—Professor Matthias Krings, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz
"This book is a significant contribution to the rich, though understudied, area of research on comedy in general, and stand-up comedy in particular, in the African continent. Keen on probing and describing the specific techniques adopted by African stand-up comedians, the book presents engaged and intimate readings of different traditions of performance, which are informed by a depth of theoretical and conceptual approaches to this artistic and cultural practice. The investigation highlights the ample diversity of African stand-up comedy practice, not only in terms of geographical locations (which are as wide apart areas as South Africa and Egypt), but also through the inclusion of diverse media of representation such as live performances, satellite channels, and YouTube, and the investigation of various modes of performance ranging between one-person and multi-person performances, and scripted and non-scripted shows. This combination of vastness and depth produces valuable insights into people’s attempts to grapple with their realities, make sense of the world they live in, and carve out spaces for expression, representation and visibility."—Randa Aboubakr, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Cairo University, Egypt
"A conceptually dazzling meditation on the serious business of laughter in Africa. If stand-up comedy banks on breaking taboos without causing offence, then analysing it takes a similar gamble of pursuing scholarly depth without smothering the delicate pulse of the genre. The essays in this volume are absorbing demonstrations of how to take this gamble, and win.
At a time when the stereotypical prejudices that once formed the comedian’s staple are increasingly questioned; this volume offers a timely snapshot of how African comics and their publics navigate the comic tightrope between offence and the hilariously fresh insights of comedy’s defamiliarizing impulse.
Easily the most encyclopaedic volume on comedy in Africa at this stage, traversing a delightful range of geohistorical contexts, comic traditions and theoretical debates convened by stand-up comedy, with remarkable depth. A necessary barometer of the state of the genre and its scholarship today."—Grace A Musila, Associate Professor, Department of African Literature, University of the Witwatersrand.
"This beautifully curated volume offers critical perspectives on stand-up comedy in Africa and the African diaspora from an impressive group of international scholars. For a newcomer to comedy studies such as myself, it offers a useful overview of the history of stand-up and its relatively undertheorized status in scholarly literature. The chapters explore subjects such as African and diasporic comedians’ invocations of colonial histories, injustices, and power relations; the ways in which colonial, indigenous, and vernacular languages figure in contemporary African and diasporic stand-up; and the invocation of abject and taboo subject matter to deliver satire and political commentary. The comedians and cultural scenes discussed range across the African continent and beyond, and the authors in the volume bring to bear expertise and disciplinary tools from a wide array of fields, including literary studies, linguistics, humour studies, theatre and performance studies, media studies, history, and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies. This book seems likely add new perspectives and new depth to the fields of comedy and African cultural and performance studies; and to enlighten and stimulate the curiosity of those of us working outside those fields."—Karen Fricker, Department of Dramatic Arts, Brock University, Ontario, Canada