Traduction et Langues
Volume 16, Numéro 1, Pages 164-174

Women Supporting Women: Changing Traditional Gender Perceptions In African Women Stand-up Comedy

Authors : Ajayi Ibukun Osuolale .


Stand-up comedians do not only aim to get their audience entertained. They also try to trigger audience epistemic and ideological engagement with different humour contents. This is done by them through the transactional frames of ideologies and social identity embedded in comedic routines. This study seeks to analyse a growing presence of Rapport management framework and gender representations that challenge and seek to change existing gender stereotypes about women not supporting women. Three female African stand-up comedians have been selected for this study. Two joking performances of Helen Paul (Nigeria comedian), Tumi Morake (South African comedian), and Heiress Jacinta (Ghanaian comedian) were transcribed using the researchers’ notations. Four jokes each were purposively selected from the performances of each of the comedians, and the transcribed data was analysed using Spencer-Oatey’s (2000) Rapport Management theory, and van Dijk’s (2000) ideological Square. The study reveals that African female comedians identify gender binaries and they use their jokes to project ideologies about it. These ideologies influence perceptions of the social identity of the African woman. It is evident, from the data, that the African female comedians predominantly challenge ideologies that are not positive about the female gender, sometimes by ‘de-emphasising positive things about the male gender’, but also by emphasizing female rapport that busts contrary stereotypes. In the process, the female comedians deploy several different linguistic strategies, which the study also explores.


Gender ideology, African females, stereotypes, challenge, change, joking performances.