Every year, comics around the country get together and nominate fellow comics they think really aced it over the past year. This celebration of local comedy is special because the recognition comes from their peers and is solely based on merit rather than a popularity contest.
Last night, at Gold Reef City’s Lyric Theatre, the 7th Annual South African Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards took place. The lavish affair features some of the greatest comedians that Africa has to offer — as celebrities, journalists and ministers join the entire comedy industry to honour the best of the best.
For selling out at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and his highly successful tour of Australia, Loyiso Gola won the coveted Breakthrough Award, which is bestowed upon an act whose achievement elevates South African comedy significantly.
Up-and-coming contender Thabiso Mhlongo won the hotly contested Savanna Newcomer of the Year category with previous newcomer winner Ebenhaezer Dibakwane scooping the Intermediate Award.
Funnyman Salesman (Collen Chepi) received the Non-English Comic Award for his hilarious vernacular routines. Mojak Lehoko received the Comic’s Pen Award for his outstanding writing on several local television productions.
The Nando’s Best Friend of Comedy was awarded to Goliath & Goliath for the third time for their ongoing support and facilitation of South African comedy.
Acknowledging that the audience is a huge player in the industry, the Audience Choice Award is the only category where the public can vote — and this year’s Waldo went to Elton Mduduzi Ntuli. This is the second time Elton has received this award and it is testament to the massive amount of effort he put into campaigning for public votes.
Skhumba Hlophe scooped two awards this year – both to huge applause from the audience. First was The Flying Solo Award for his hugely successful one-man-show #1STOFALL. Second was the apex of the Savanna CCA’s, The Savanna Comic of the Year, which acknowledged the incredible hard work Skhumba has put into his craft and his career in the last year.
Hailing from Nigeria, the inaugural Savanna Pan-African Comic of the Year Award went to Basketmouth (Bright Okpocha), a revered celebrity worldwide and one of the hardest working comedians in Africa. Performing in different countries weekly, it’s no wonder he has over 7,6m followers on social media and arrived in SA to an entourage of adoring fans.
Lifetime recipient award winner, Cyril Green, unfortunately passed away a few weeks ago, however, the awards gave the comedian a beautiful tribute at the ceremony.
The awards yet again showcased just how incredible the African comedy scene is. With an array of talented comedians in attendance, the space is guaranteed to get bigger and better in the years to come – and it’s an exciting space to watch right now.
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