Language, Vulgarity and Social Critique: The Case of Nigerian Pidgin in Stand-up Comedy

  • Akinmade Akande Department of English, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
  • Kofo Adedeji Department of English, University of Lagos, Nigeria
  • Anjola Robbin Department of English & Literary Studies, Lead City University, Ibadan, Nigeria
Keywords: Humour, stand-up comedy, language, vulgarity, social criticism, Nigerian Pidgin


The status which Nigerian Pidgin (NP hereafter) has come to have in Nigerian stand-up comedy is different from the position it has in other spheres of interactional communication where it is restricted to non-prestigious genres. This paper examines how stand-up comedy has changed the linguistic order in Nigeria by giving prominence and prestige to NP and elevating it to serve a good purpose. Data for the study were drawn from recorded performances of seven popular stand‑up comedians in Nigeria. The analysis shows that NP is dominant in Nigerian stand-up comedy. It also demonstrates that apart from their use of vulgar words, stand-up comedians in Nigeria mirror the society by discussing various types of immorality in their performances. Finally, the paper submits that Nigerian stand-up comedians are social critics and commentators who through humour and satire often tacitly criticize nefarious policies of the government and condemn immoral acts of politicians and their agents with the aim of changing the society for the better.