Tradition and subjectivities: Warri-related comedians and their art

Keywords: tradition, subjectivities, performance, Warri, comedians

Abstract

By some coincidence, many Nigerian stand-up comedians were born, raised, live in, or are associated with Warri and its environs. By Warri, as understood in the area, we mean Warri and its surroundings and, to a large extent, what is called the ‘core Delta’ of Nigeria’s Delta State. The comedians include Gordons, I Go Dye, AY and Real Warri Pikin. We investigate what is possibly responsible for the natural talent of these comedians. We relate the success of these comedians to the notion of Warri as ‘not coming last’, the history of the city of many ethnicities, boma boys, the blues nature of suffering pain and deprivations but laughing them off, and some indigenous traditions such as the Urhobo udje oral poetic performance which aims to elicit laughter as a means of maintaining normalcy and preventing anybody from deviating from the communally-established norms. We use multiple concepts such as laughter as a means of regulating people’s lives, satire, historicism, culture, and aesthetic considerations to study these Warri-related comedians and their art. We investigate the commonalities, subjectivities, traditions, and individual talents that have made Warri-born, raised, resident, and related comedians so successful—not only in Nigeria, but also in Africa and the world.

Author Biographies

Tanure Ojaide, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, USA

Tanure Ojaide is the Frank Porter Graham Professor in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, USA.

Enajite Ojaruega, Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria

Enajite Eseoghene Ojaruega is associate professor in the Department of English and Literary Studies at Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria.

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Published
2020-10-23
How to Cite
OjaideT., & OjaruegaE. (2020). Tradition and subjectivities: Warri-related comedians and their art. Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 57(2), 81-91. https://doi.org/10.17159/tl.v57i2.8321
Section
Research articles