AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 8, Number 2 May 2024 Pp. 51-70

Liminality and Knowledge Production in Egyptian Stand-up Comedy: Reflecting Perspectives and Defying Restrictions

Department of English Language and Literature
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
The British University in Egypt
Email: nohayer.lotfy@bue.edu.eg


This paper aimed to examine how Egyptian live stand-up performances act as a liminal space where comedians present their perspectives on issues of concern, offering a different source of knowledge other than mainstream views and ideas. Data collected for this study included selected excerpts from Egyptian live stand-up shows in addition to interviews with stand-up comedians to collect more in-depth information about how they perceive stand-up comedy as a form of art and how they select their topics and develop their stand-up material. For this paper, two analytical approaches were applied: 1) A thematic approach to closely investigate the range of topics women and men Egyptian comedians tackle in their shows and how these topics introduce a new angle to knowledge production, and 2) Van Dijk’s (2007) macro-level critical discourse analysis that aimed to examine the context in which the selected performances have taken place, how comedians’ stances are expressed and whether their material defy or adapt to the surrounding incidents/contexts. Analysis of data showed that comedians discuss taboo topics both implicitly and explicitly, and in reaction to possible restrictions on stand-up material, comedians employ various techniques of humor to defy these restrictions using the space and time of the live show to share their views with the audience

Cite as:

Lotfy, N. E. (2024). Liminality and Knowledge Production in Egyptian Stand-up Comedy: Reflecting Perspectives and Defying Restrictions. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 8 (1)


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Dr. Nohayer Lotfy is a lecturer at the British University in Egypt. She received her PhD degree in applied linguistics and humor from Cairo University. She grew interested in stand-up comedy as a humor genre and decided to analyze comedians’ linguistic choices to create humor in stand-up comedy acts from Egypt and the United States. Her passion for the study of comedy shows has been the result of witnessing how comedians skillfully use language in their performances to criticize social, cultural and political issues of concern to their community. OCid ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6836-4084