Sexual jokes in Nigerian stand-up comedy


sexual jokes
stand-up comedy
social relief theory
incongruity theory

How to Cite

Mensah, E., Inyabri, I., & Aboh, R. (2023). Sexual jokes in Nigerian stand-up comedy: a multifaceted analytic approach. The European Journal of Humour Research, 11(3), 54–71.


Nigerian stand-up comic artists explore emerging social, religious, and political issues as materials for comic entertainment within their performance space and community of practice. One of the resources for comic performance is the recourse to sexual contents which are deployed to reduce apprehension around stereotyped norms about sex and sexuality in the Nigerian sociocultural context. Drawing on ethnographic qualitative data using social media skits, audio-visual disks and semi-structured interviews, this article examines sexual jokes as ideological texts and rhetorical devices that embody the struggle between conservatism and postmodern conceptions of sex and sexuality. It highlights the recurrent themes and creative discourses of sexual humour which stand-up comedy performers exploit as artistic tools for the engagement of gender roles, sexual myths, sexual politics and social contradictions within a vulnerable socio-political and economic context. We adopt social relief theory and incongruity theory of humour comprehension to provide a nuanced understanding of sexual jokes and the sociocultural inhibitions that surround them. The dominant themes in these jokes include male sterility, faking orgasm, commodification of sex, prostitution, rape, and the use of aphrodisiac. The results indicate that sexual jokes are circulating within the comedy performance space as forms of protest against stereotyped sexual culture. In this way, male and female comedians, working with the tools and ideology of postmodernism, help to satirise conventional sexual values and radicalise their audiences against normative construction of sex and sexuality.


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