Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Second Language Studies

First Advisor

Tamara Warhol

Second Advisor

Daniel E. O'Sullivan

Third Advisor

Felice Coles

Relational Format



This dissertation is a study of the comics’ lexical choices and how they achieve their goals with words. The comics’ choice of words is far from being incidental, superficial, or supplementary. Performers’ choices of words show how their ideas are embodied in language. That is to say, the effect of how a comedian uses words and humor strategies is vital for understanding the contextual meaning of jokes and how they appeal to logic and reason. The objectives are to identify and categorize lexical choices and interpret their denotative, connotative, and affective meanings. Based on the Incongruity Theory (Attardo, 1994) Data were obtained from videos on YouTube channels of two comedy shows, “AY Live” and “Night of a Thousand Laughs.” These comedy shows are the most widely viewed in the country and are held every year on national holidays in different cities in Nigeria and abroad. Five hours 23 minutes, and nine seconds of video were examined from 2017 to 2020 with 20 stand-up comedians performing in front of a live audience. The data from these shows will be listened to, transcribed using conversation analysis formalisms, translated to English (because NSCs use NPE for their performances), and subjected to the qualitative research method of analysis using Reis’ (2018) Paradigmatic and Syntagmatic Analysis (PSA). The findings reveal the pattern NSCs used to form their jokes and that they used words in the basilectal register in the punchlines to create a surprise in the situations of static incongruity and the sequence of events for dynamic incongruity jokes. The results from this dissertation on NSCs' word choice pointed to pedagogical implications for the instruction of stand-up comedy to help learners become professionals in the craft of stand-up comedy and entertainment to become more effective communicators and entertainers.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.