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The Aesthetics, Politics, and Cultural Economy of African Stand-up Comedy – Special Issue of the Nokoko Journal

Stand-up comedy persists as one form of cultural production in Africa that defines how Africans negotiate their existence and artistically re-frame the burden of nationhood, social identities, and everyday existential challenges. At its core, stand-up comedy is a form of cultural criticism driven by aesthetic, political and economic forces. Through humour, African stand-up comedians produce alternative public spheres and commentaries, share coded messages that implicate socio-political inclusion and exclusion, the individuality of experience, and the self-critical way we think about ourselves as people.

Despite Africa’s tortuous postcolonial experience, humour is emerging as a central node in reorienting African publics as to their excruciating socio-political conditions and to the urgency of imagination. Stand-up comedy, notable for the immediacy of its face-to-face interaction, is one of Africa’s most popular emergent art forms—produced and circulated through multiple traditional and digital media. Yet, despite its ubiquity on the continent, especially in urban centres, stand-up comedy is regrettably among the less theorized and less analysed genre of African oral tradition and popular cultural production.

In this special issue, we approach the form systematically by examining how stand-up comics reflect on identity politics in Africa, appraise the provenance and evolution of the form, while highlighting its significant contribution to the cultural economy of the continent.

The entire issue can be accessed here OR https://ojs.library.carleton.ca/index.php/nokoko/issue/view/221 

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