Humour, satire and the emergent stand-up comedy: A diachronic appraisal of the contributions of the masking tradition


Stand-up comedy

How to Cite

Orji, B. E. (2018). Humour, satire and the emergent stand-up comedy: A diachronic appraisal of the contributions of the masking tradition. The European Journal of Humour Research, 6(4), 24–38.


Masking is a phenomenon that is traced to almost all human ages. From its prehistoric and primitive narratives in Africa, its dramatic beginnings in ancient Greece and Rome, to its use as forms of character delineation in the commedia dell’Arte of the 16th and 18th century Europe, as well as its age long association with carnivals due largely to its analogous to humour and entertainment. Masking, as comic as it may seem, has been critical of humanity’s social dispositions from time past. As humans, the façade of the mask is a leeway to speak truth to power and also an opportunity for the performance of self in ways that are at variant with the real self. As topical as the activities of the masquerade are to the society, no academic quest has been directed to investigate how humour and satire have always been associated with the masquerade. Following the social criticism, humour and entertainment which have become evidently inherent in the emergent stand-up comedy, scholars have directed their critical attention towards this new live theatre without considering the humorous functions of the masquerade for an academic enquiry. It is against this backdrop that this paper has decided to investigate and re-establish historically the humorous contributions of the masking art in almost all facets of human conditions. The resources for the paper were a combination of library and historical research. The paper established that satire and humour, as enjoyed in all venues of stand-up comedy acts in Nigeria, are just a contemporary addition to what masks had done in the past but for dearth of proper documentation of these contributions. The masking tradition has been a source of humour and sarcasm to issues bordering on human relations all over the world


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