By Nomali Cele
In July, when the 2019 Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards nominees were announced, another special honouree was announced along with them. This person wouldn’t have to wait until the big nigh of 7 September to find out what their comedy peers thought, they knew from the announcement. The person whose name was called was Soli Philander, the veteran media personality, theatre practitioner and singular voice in South African public commentary.
The announcement of Philander’s Lifetime Achievement honour, as with previous Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards, came with more than just the trophy. Soli Philander also got the special honour of being grilled by people with whom they’ve worked. Philander whose career has many of its roots in activist communities and speaking truth to power, used the moment to shine a spotlight on the oft-neglected comic: the comedienne.
From left: Shimmy Isaacs, Mel Jones, Bianca Le Grange, Soli Philander Coconut Kelz and Lihle Msimang
The four grillers and grill master were all women — four of whom have been making strides in the world of comedy for years. Not only that, the voices of women of colour and black women were central at the grilling. Mel Jones, Shimmy Isaacs, Bianca Le Grange, were a nod to Philander’s Western Cape roots and all three women are have worked with them quite a bit over the years. On the other hand, Coconut Kelz and Lihle Msimang are leading a new generation and speak to the future of the comedy industry and the role women can play.
If you are not familiar with the concept of grills or comedy roasts, it’s when a panel gathers around one guest of honour and ribs them. But the jibes and punchlines are not only directed at the guest of honour, but the panel also grills each other and, finally, the guest of honour has the last word and grills back. At Soli Philander’s Grilling Of A Lifetime, there were many jokes, laughs and, more importantly, love.
With the grill now behind us, all roads lead to The Lyric Theatre for the main event. You don’t want to miss the 2019 Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards, get your tickets NOW.
Images supplied by Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards