Africa’s 11 Top Comedians Honoured at the 7th Annual Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards
What do former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, Nigerian comedian Basketmouth and DJ Dino Bravo have in common? They took part in this year’s 7th Annual South African Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards
Famed for being the largest gathering of comedy talent on the continent, this annual variety show 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.
Themed ‘The Freedom of Funny’, the 2017 instalment celebrated the power that humour has to break down barriers and open borders between African countries and encourage the free flow of comedy talent.
It was the first time that the Savanna Pan-African Award was handed out with the five nominees being flown in from Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and Lesotho to join their South African counterparts at the glamorous awards evening. Comedians vote for their fellow comedians, meaning that a Waldo (the award’s statuette), is one of the highest accolades that an African comedian can receive.
Staying true to the ‘Freedom of Funny’, the gist of the show was a hilarious parody of current affairs, with Hlaudi Motsoeneng (played by previous Savanna CCA award winner KG Mokgadi) interrupting the show to take over and ‘save it’ with a budget of R200-million. Comedy sketches were interwoven with stand-up as the 11 awards were handed out. As acknowledgement to the original Gupta whistle-blower, it seemed only fitting that Mcebisi Jonas was invited to present the Waldo to this year’s Savanna Comic of the Year.
This year’s Waldo recipients are:
Loyiso Gola, who won the coveted Breakthrough Award, which is given to those whose achievements elevates South African comedy significantly. He also won for selling out at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and for his highly successful tour to Australia.
Up-and-coming contender Thabiso Mhlongo won the Savanna Newcomer of the Year.
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 The Flying Solo Award for his hugely successful one-man-show #1STOFALL and The Savanna Comic of the Year, which acknowledged the incredible hard work he 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.
John Vlismas directed the show and was most proud of the tribute to the late Cyril Green, who was announced as the Lifetime Achiever recipient shortly before he passed away in July. As always, the event, which took place at the Lyric Theatre, didn’t disappoint, and the after party, well I guess you missed out if you were not part of the magical night.
Who is your favourite comedian and who do you think should have won this year?