Exploring semiotic remediation in performances of stand-up comedians in post- apartheid South Africa and post-colonial Nigeria
Adetomokun, Idowu Jacob
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This research has been conducted by focusing on the trajectories of semiotic ensembles from various contexts that stand-up comedians exploited for aesthetic and communicative purposes. I apply the social semiotic theory of multimodality (Kress and van Leeuwen, 2001, 2006), and the notions of semiotic remediation (Bolter and Grusin, 1996, 2000) and resemiotization (Iedema, 2003) to selected audiovisual recordings performances of Trevor Noah and Loyiso Gola from South Africa; and Atunyota Akporobomeriere (Ali Baba) and Bright Okpocha (Basket Mouth) from Nigeria. I explore the trajectories of semiotic resources that the comedians used across modes, contexts and practices. I also trace the translation and interpretation of socio-cultural and political materials by South African and Nigerian stand-up comedians’ performances. The idea is also to examine the extent to which the socio-cultural and political contexts of both countries have differential effects on the choices in the semiotic resources used in the reconstruction of meanings, including cross socio-cultural taboos. The study reveals that combinations of various semiotic materials ranging from political, sociocultural, religious and personal lifestyles are remediated (repurposed) for comic and aesthetic effects. This involves translating and re-interpreting the semiotic resources across contexts and practices. In this regard, the study showed how the artists rework verbal language, images, socio-political discourses and other semiotic material for new meanings. It also reveals that although the choices of materials are similar, there is a tendency of localizing semiotic resources to particular localities and audiences, so that each artist’s performance comes out as unique to the person. The study concludes that language alone is not at the core of communication as other semiotic modes (in addition to languages) are integrated interweaving resources to make meaning. The direction of the modes or resources is multidimensional. All the spoken texts, all the non-linguistic modes: gestures, stance, movements, running on stage, postures, mimicking and others, perform vital roles to recontextualize meanings in stand-up comedy performance. Therefore, the study opens up new perspectives on social semiotic approaches to multimodality, as well as on language social semiotic and to theory and media studies. The contribution also answers the call to expand the understanding and research on the theory of ‘multimodality’ and the various concepts such as semiotic remediation and resemiotization associated with it.