Johannesburg - The 7th annual Savanna Comic’s Choice Awards took place on Saturday night at the Lyric Theatre in Johannesburg.
Themed The Freedom of Funny, the 2017 installment 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 year 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.
This year’s winners are:
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 -mand 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.
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.