Studies on humour in Nigeria have been extensively carried out from the perspectives of stand-up comedy and computer-mediated communication. There is a dearth of scholarly enquiries on humour in situation comedies (sitcoms). This paper investigates humour in the interactions of characters in Jenifa’s Diary and Professor JohnBull, with a view to accounting for the manifestations of humour, the humour strategies deployed and the functions that the humorous utterances serve in the sitcoms. The work is situated in Culpeper’s Impoliteness Theory. Eight excerpts from the sitcoms were subjected to pragmatic analysis. Two discourse functions of amusing and castigating are discovered in the data. The former serves the function of facilitating discourse and changing presumed power and status, while the latter serves the function of maintaining one’s own space and autonomy, and demanding respect. Allusion, parody, retort, tease, banter and putdown are the humour techniques employed in the sitcoms. The study corroborates the claim of earlier studies that humour in every sphere of language use serves certain functions beyond the interactional need to create amusement.
Adetunji, A. (2013). ‘The interactional context of humour in Nigerian stand-up comedy’. Pragmatics 23 (1), pp. 1-22.
Argyle, M. (1987). The Psychology of Happiness. London: Methuen.
Ayakoroma, B. F. (2013). ‘The rise of stand-up comedy genre in Nigeria: from nothing to something in artistic entertainment’. Paper presented at the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists Annual Conference, Benue State University, Makurdi, 4-8 June. Retrieved February 14, 2014 from http://www.nico.gov.ng/index.php/features/91-the-rise-of-stand-up-comedy-genre-in-nigeria.
Azeez, L. & Doghudje, R. (2015). ‘Comedy as a discursive exchange for social change: A study of the social themes of Papa Ajasco and its interpretation by Nigerian’. EJOTMAS: Ekpoma Journal of Theatre and Media Arts 5 (1), pp. 253-262.
Bamgbose, G. A. (2016). ‘Mock-impoliteness as a discursive practice in draught playing’. Ife Studies in English Language (ISEL)12 (2), pp. 91-103.
Bamgbose, G. A. (2019). ‘Beyond rhythm and lyrics: Pragmatic strategies of verbal humour in Nigerian hip-hop. The European Journal of Humour Research 7 (4), pp. 16-31.
Billig, M. (2001). ‘Humour and hatred: The racist jokes of the Ku Klux Klan’. Discourse and Society 12, pp. 267-89.
Brock, A. (2015). ‘Participation frameworks and participation in televised sitcom, candid camera and stand-up comedy’, in Dynel, M. & Chovanec, J. (eds.), Participation in Public and Social Media Interactions, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 27-47.
Brown, M. (2008). ‘Osuofia don enter discourse: Global Nollywood and African identity politics’. IJOTA (Ibadan Journal of Theatre Arts) 2 (4), pp. 56-72.
Chang, W. & Haugh, M. (2011). ‘Strategic embarrassment and face threatening in business interactions’. Journal of Pragmatics 43 (12), pp. 2948-2963.
Culpeper, J. (1996). ‘Towards an anatomy of impoliteness’. Journal of Pragmatics 25, pp. 349-367.
Culpeper, J. (2011). Impoliteness: Using Language to Cause Offence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Culpeper, J., Derek, B. & Wichmann, A. (2003). ‘Impoliteness revisited: With special reference to dynamic and prosodic aspects’. Journal of Pragmatics 35, pp. 1545-1579.
Davies, C. (2007). ‘Humour and protest: Jokes under communism’. International Review of Social History 25, pp. 291-305.
Dynel, M. (2009). ‘Beyond a joke: Types of conversational humour’. Language and Linguistics Compass 3, pp. 1284-1299.
Dynel, M. (2011). ‘I’ll be there for you: on participation-based sitcom humour’, in Dynel, M. (ed.), The Pragmatics of Humour across Discourse Domains. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 311-333.
Dynel, M. (2016). ‘With or without intentions: Accountability and (un)intentional humour in film talk’. Journal of Pragmatics 95, pp. 67-78.
Ehiemua, K. I. (2008). The semiotics of laughter in two Nigerian apolitical movie-comedies. Retrieved June 13 2017 from https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ejotmas/article/viewFile/121000/110427.
Faleye, O. (2016). ‘A linguistic analysis of Klint Da Drunk’s “Alcoholic” Talk Show’, in Taiwo, R., Odebunmi, A. & Adetunji, A. (eds.), Analyzing Language and Humor in Online Communication, Hershey PA: Information Science Reference, pp. 115-131.
Filani, I. (2015). ‘Stand-up comedy as an activity type’. Israeli Journal of Humor Research 4 (1), pp.73-97.
Filani, I. (2016). ‘Discourse types in stand-up comedy performances: An example of Nigerian stand-up comedy’. The European Journal of Humour Research 3 (1), pp. 41-60.
Glick, D. J. (2007). ‘Some performative techniques of standup comedy: An exercise in the textuality of temporalisation’. Language and Communication 27, pp. 291-306.
Goddard, C. (2006).’ “Lift your game, Martina!” – Deadpan jocular irony and the ethnopragmatics of Australian English’, in Goddard C. (ed.), Ethnopragmatics: Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 65-97.
Greenbaum, A. (1999). ‘Stand-up comedy as rhetorical argument: an investigation of comic culture’. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 12 (1), pp. 33-46.
Hay, J. (2000). ‘Functions of humor in the conversations of men and women’. Journal of Pragmatics 32, pp. 709-742.
Haugh, M. (2010). ‘Jocular mockery, (dis)affiliation and face’. Journal of Pragmatics 42 (8), pp. 2106-2119.
Haugh, M. (2011). ‘Humour, face and im/politeness in getting acquainted’ in Davies, B. L., Haugh, M. & Merrison, A. J. (eds.), Situated Politeness, Continuum: London, pp. 165-184.
Holmes, J. (2000). ‘Politeness, power and provocation: How humour functions in the workplace’. Discourse Studies 2, pp. 159-185.
Holmes, J. (2006). ‘Sharing a laugh: pragmatic aspects of humor and gender in the workplace’. Journal of Pragmatics 38, pp. 26-50.
Holmes, J. & Marra, M. (2002). ‘Humour as a discursive boundary marker in social interactions’, in Duszak, A. (ed.), Us and Others: Social Identities across Languages, Discourses and Cultures, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 377-400.
Inya, O. (2016). ‘Pragmatics of humour in a Nigerian university’s departmental chat rooms’, in Taiwo, R., Odebunmi, A. & Adetunji, A. (eds.), Analyzing Language and Humor in Online Communication. Hershey PA: Information Science Reference, pp. 190-206.
Jefferson, G. (2004). ‘Glossary of transcript symbols with an introduction’, in Lerner, G. (ed.), Conversation Analysis: Studies from the First Generation, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 13-23.
Korostenskiene, J. & Pakrosnyte, M. (2019). ‘Analysis of humour in TV series Friends and its translation into Lithuanian’. Sustainable Multilingualism, pp. 155-178, http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/sm2017-0017.
Lamidi, M. T. (2016). ‘Humour in visual-verbal code-pairing in selected comments on the Facebook forum’, in Taiwo, R., Odebunmi, A. & Adetunji, A. (eds.), Analyzing Language and Humor in Online Communication. Hershey PA: Information Science Reference, pp. 228-251.
Lefcourt, H. (2001). Humor: The Psychology of Living Buoyantly. New York: Kluwe Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Locher, M. A. & Bousfield, D. (2008). ‘Introduction: impoliteness and power in language’, in Bousfield, D. & Locher, M. A. (eds.), Impoliteness in Language: Studies on its Interplay with Power in Theory and Practice (Language, Power and Social Process 21), Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 1-13.
Odebunmi A. & Ajiboye, S. (2016). ‘Negotiation of wit in Facebook humour’, in Taiwo, R., Odebunmi, A. & Adetunji, A. (eds.), Analyzing Language and Humor in Online Communication, Hershey PA: Information Science Reference, pp. 20-37.
Olaosun, I. E. (2016). ‘Communicative content of selected visual construction of humour on Facebook: A visual social semiotic perspective’, in Taiwo, R., Odebunmi, A. & Adetunji, A. (eds.), Analyzing Language and Humor in Online Communication. Hershey PA: Information Science Reference, pp. 115-131.
Ologun, O. (2017). ‘Linguistic representations of social actions and ideology in Jenifa’s Diary’. M.A. Project, Dept. of English, University of Ibadan.
Palmer, J. (2019). ‘Conversational structure and implicature in Professor JohnBull’. M.A. Project, Dept. of English, University of Ibadan.
Radcliffe-Brown, A. (1952). Structure and Function in Primitive Society. New York: The Free Press.
Robinson, V. M. (1991). Humor and the Health Professions. Thorofare, NJ: Slack.
Schwarz, J. (2010). ‘Linguistic aspects of verbal humour in Stand-up Comedy’, PhD dissertation, Saarland: University of Saarland.
Sperber, D. & Wilson, D. (1986). Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Sunday, A. B. & Filani, I. (2019). ‘Playing with culture: Nigerian stand-up comedians joking with cultural beliefs and representations’. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 32 (1), pp. 97-124.
Taiwo, R. (2016). ‘Discursive power relations in Naijabookofjokes.com’, in Taiwo, R., Odebunmi, A. & Adetunji, A. (eds.), Analyzing Language and Humor in Online Communication, Hershey PA: Information Science Reference, pp. 177-189.
Wieczorek, M. (2018). ‘Different shades of viewership: a pragmatic analysis of viewership in sitcom discourse’, Forum 3, pp. 101-117.
Ziegler J. B. (1998). ‘Use of humour in medical teaching’. Medical Teacher 20, pp. 341-348.