Towards a New Poetics of Comedic Performance in Kenya Following COVID-19


Towards a New Poetics of Comedic Performance in Kenya Following COVID-19

DOI: 10.1080/23277408.2024.2308467
Author(s): Anne Lanoi Keton Maasai Mara University, Kenya , Denis Waswa Barasa Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kenya


Stand-up comedy in Kenya before COVID-19 relied on close proximity between comedians and their audiences. However, COVID-19 disrupted this arrangement and subverted the performance space of ‘traditional theatre.’ This article examines alternative comic spaces embraced by selected Kenyan stand-up comedians during COVID-19. The article seeks to answer two fundamental questions: (1) What was the nature of the alternative spaces where the stand-up comedians performed during COVID-19? (2) How did the alternative sites of comic performances redefine how stand-up comedians engage with their audiences? To answer these questions, we conducted research on major stand-up comedians on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter to obtain primary data, which we analysed and interpreted drawing on theories of humour and of social performance. We argue that the comedians, motivated by the need to maintain the relevance of their work and their audiences, used the digital ecosystem and devised variant alternative comic spaces innovatively to push the threshold of poetics of comedic performances individually and collectively.

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