“Di one Wey Dey Pain me Pass …!”

Social Satire, Caricature and Mimicry in the Comic Act of AY

Authored by: Rotimi Fasan

Routledge Handbook of African Popular Culture

Print publication date:  May  2022
Online publication date:  May  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367483869
eBook ISBN: 9781003080855
Adobe ISBN:


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Earlier studies of African popular culture have in the main been generalized investigations of the field, limited by a lack of attention to the forms as cultural artifact in their own right. There has been a fixation on popular arts as mere means to an end – pointer to the attitude and material condition of both their consumers and practitioners. It is against this background that I will here explore the comic practice of the comedian popularly called AY (Warri Boy), Ayodeji Richard Makun, one of Nigeria’s best-known comic acts in terms of his place, presentational routine, linguistic predilection and general stage comportment and style. My approach in part follows Karin Barber’s model of a historical rather than what she refers to as ‘a presentist view’ of popular forms. I make the point that, like with many stand ups whose art consciously or unconsciously draws upon indigenous aesthetics and creative forms, in this instance the free speech form that characterizes the carnivalesque atmosphere of traditional festivals, AY’s comic performance has its avatars in a mesh of traditional and neo-traditional forms such as the Efe-Gelede and Agbegijo Alarinjo theater of the Hubert Ogunde, Moses Adejumo (Baba Sala) and Ojo Ladipo (Baba Mero) style. With songs, dance and folk humor constituting the framing pillars of his comic repertoire, social satire, freighted by and anchored in caricature and mimicry, sit at the centre of his practice. AY’s routine which implicates far more than the popular conception of stand-up comedy, I argue, is an apt form for a comedian who started out and has indeed sustained his art by mimicking the ecstatic, even inebriated charlatanism and possessed performance of reformist Pentecostalism both in its Euro-American and indigenous Aladura variety.

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