ISBN 9781920033859
Pages 214
Dimensions 244 x 170mm
Published 2021
Publisher NISC (Pty) Ltd, South Africa
Format Paperback

Yabbing and Wording

The artistry of Nigerian stand-up comedy

by Izuu Nwankwọ

Yabbing and Wording: The artistry of Nigerian stand-up comedy is a long-overdue academic interrogation of the novel stand-up practice in Nigeria as performance. 'Yabbing' comes from the Nigerian Pidgin English verb, 'yab', which means a satirical jibe thrown at individuals, groups or institutions. Nigeria's Fela Anikulapo-Kuti used this effectively in his recorded and live music performances against successive military regimes. 'Wording' derives from the English term 'word' and refers to a game in which parties exchange insults. It is a modern-day coinage for traditional forms of joking that existed across Nigeria and elsewhere in precolonial times.

In this book, Nwankwọ identifies 'yabbing' and 'wording' as outstanding indigenous elements within contemporary stand-up practice in Nigeria. On the one hand, these local joking patterns inform how comedians fashion their narratives. On the other, they mitigate offence and how the audience responds to ridicule in joke performance venues. The book's strength is its academic perspective and the inclusion of as many examples of stand-up and comedians as possible, to give a panoramic view of the practice. It also traces the historical path of the development of professional stand-up comedy in Nigeria. Its closing chapters detail the global outreach of Nigerian stand-up while also anticipating its future developments.

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"This is a beautifully written book. It presents an accessible exposition to the history, practice and cultural effects of Nigerian stand-up comedy."

Ibukun Filani, Department of English, Augustine University, Lagos; English Department, Chemnnitz University of Technology, Germany

About the Author

Izuu Nwankwọ

Izuu Nwankwọ is a theatre scholar, teacher, researcher, and essayist, whose research interests include African and African diaspora popular culture and performance. He is a recipient of the African Humanities Program (AHP) Dissertation Completion Award and Postdoctoral Fellowships in 2012 and 2014. Nwankwọ is also an Iso Lomso Postdoctoral Fellow, Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, and currently (2019-2022) a Georg Forster Postdoctoral Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Programme at the Department of Anthropology, Johannes Gutenberg University, Germany. His Igbo language translation of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is titled Ihe Aghasaa (2007). He has two upcoming book titles, the edited volume, Stand-up Comedy in Africa: Humour in Popular Languages and Media (Stuttgart: Ibidem Verlag, 2022) and the co-authored work (with Daniel Hammett and Laura S. Martin) Beyond Resistance: Humour and Politics in Africa (Bristol: Bristol UP, 2022).