Sunday, 8 September 2019 – Last night saw the Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards, an unequaled celebration of African comedy excellence, mark its 9th spectacular year at the beautiful Lyric Theatre in Johannesburg. It is the one night of the year where comedians, friends and fans of comedy come together to see who the comics of the continent have voted for as the best among them.

The CCA Yellow Carpet is always a highlight. Celebrities, comics, agents, promoters and media leaders were spotted making their way past the cameras and microphones to their seats for the anticipated show. The CCAs award show delivers sketch, music, dance and stand-up, in between handing out the best-looking award statues in South Africa.

Each year the Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards sets the standard for premium comedy production. This ninth edition, themed “Funny Money”, was no exception. “Funny Money” is an original musical show where a young hero comes to Jozi to realise his dream of becoming a comedian. He navigates the treacherous and thrilling world of clubs and corporates, managers and agents – all in pursuit of Funny Money. The show had comedians and industry types rolling in the aisles and cheering as they recognised familiar characters and situations.

A stellar team – writers Virgil Prins, Dillan Oliphant and Thapelo King Flat Mametja, directors Neels Claasen and Lwazi Mngoma, created the production with the score by Fabian Sing and puppets by Kosie Smit.

The real stars of the show, however, were the 12 magnificent Waldo statuettes, created by master craftsman, David Bolam. With over 360 registered comedians eligible for the awards, taking home a Waldo means the industry has put you in the top 3.3% of the profession.

This year, the Waldos went to:

  1. Best Friend of Comedy – Joe Parker
  2. Savanna Newcomer – Chomi Ya Jeso
  3. Next Level – Tsitsi Chiumya
  4. Headliner of the Year – Mpho “Popps” Modikoane
  5. Audience Choice Award – PelePele Mchunu
  6. Savanna Pan African Comic of the Year – Long John The Comedian
  7. Native Tongue – Siya Seya
  8. Flying Solo – Celeste Ntuli
  9. Comic’s Pen – Kagiso Lediga
  10. Savanna Comic of the Year – Loyiso Gola
  11. Comedy G – Celeste Ntuli
  12. Lifetime Achiever – Soli Philander

Savanna Premium Cider is the main sponsor of the CCAs. Lazola Dali, Marketing Manager: Savanna at Distell, says, “Nurturing comedic talent in South Africa is a real passion for Savanna Premium Cider, given that dry, sharp-witted humour is part of our brand’s DNA. Comedians are the charismatic mavericks of society, which is something Savanna can relate to, as the cider that corrupted the apple.”

“We are excited about the Savanna Newcomer of the Year category for 2019, as we see it as a reflection of how the comedy industry is thriving on our continent. We know we will see great things from this year’s winner, James Chomi Ya Jeso soon, and I personally am looking forward to seeing his career flourish over the next few years. We hope to see South African comedy go from strength to strength in the coming years,” continues Dali.

Another coveted Waldo on the night was the Savanna Pan African Comic of the Year Award. 2019 marks the third year of this award, and it was heartwarming to see Long John The Comedian take the trophy after Nigeria’s Basketmouth had dominated over the first two years.

Chatz Connect, the CCA’s official technology partner for the second year, and Samsung Mobile SA, Chatz Connect strategic partner for 2019, jumped on board to support this year. Samsung Mobile offers a range of devices for all types of customers and generously sponsored Samsung Gear VR headsets for all of the nominees, as well as a variety of Samsung smartphones for each of the winners to take home. With Chatz Connect and Samsung Mobile, they will ensure all winners have the tech to keep them savvy and amplify their status as a CCA winner on all of their favourite social media platforms.

This year also saw the CCA Audience Choice voting system migrate from SMS to an online platform. A whopping 180 000 plus votes were cast in this category, the only category where the public votes for the winner. After being nominated every year in this category, the audience went wild when PelePele was announced the winner, finally!

Soli Philander, the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, was presented with his Waldo by his childhood friend, Doreen Morris. The duo spoke nostalgically about growing up in Elsie’s Rivier and their adventures in show business.