Nominations for the 2018 Savanna South African Comics' Choice Awards were announced at the Goliath Comedy Club in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg on Wednesday, where legend of SA comedy Pieter-Dirk Uys was named the recipient of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Uys, who began his career in the late Sixties as an actor and later a dramatist, became world-famous in the Eighties via the character of Evita Bezuidenhout, the wife of a fictional apartheid politician and later the "ambassadress" to the "independent" bantustan of Bapetikosweti, another fiction created by Uys to allow him to criticise the National Party government, despite strict censorship under apartheid.
He also holds the distinction of being the first man to present an SABC Artes Award, live on national television, in drag — an electric blue sari, to be precise — despite the apartheid government's antipathy to the LGBT+ community at the time.
Originally just one character among several played by Uys in his satirical revue "Adapt Or Dye" in 1980, Evita quickly became the artist's regular alter-ego, overshadowing most of his other characters — including a renowned impression of apartheid's "Groot Krokodil" (Great Crocodile), former president PW Botha — through several revues, a stage play called "Farce About Uys", and even a 1985 film, "Skating On Thin Uys".
To this day, "the most famous white woman in Africa" remains a drawcard in online posts and at Uys' regular performances at Evita Se Perron in Darling, Western Cape — the disused railway station that he converted into a cabaret theatre, restaurant, museum and cultural experience in 1996.
The beloved entertainer has continued his political activism beyond the demise of apartheid, and has been especially involved in HIV/AIDS prevention and education since the denialism of Thabo Mbeki's presidency.
The Lifetime Achievement is the only category, voted for by registered South African comics, which is announced ahead of the main South African Comics' Choice Awards ceremony, which this year will take place at the Lyric Theatre in Gold Reef City, Johannesburg, on September 8.
The other categories all start off with a list of nominees, announced on Wednesday, with the eventual winners only to be revealed on September 8. This year, local funny people Celeste Ntuli and Skhumba Hlope lead the field, with nominations in four different categories apiece.
Although voting for most of the awards is restricted to South African comics only — hence the name, "Comics' Choice" — there is one category in which the general comedy-watching public get a say — the Audience Choice Award.
Here is the full list of nominees for 2018:
COMEDY G AWARD (a new award, for comics who have been working professionals for 15 years or more, launched this year)
SAVANNA NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
NEXT LEVEL AWARD
Phil de Lange
SAVANNA PAN-AFRICAN COMIC OF THE YEAR AWARD
Carl Joshua Ncube (Zimbabwe)
Kansiime Anne Entertainer (Uganda)
Charles Manase (Botswana)
NATIVE TONGUE AWARD
Thapelo King Flat
FLYING SOLO AWARD
COMICS' PEN AWARD
BEST FRIEND OF COMEDY AWARD
On Fire Comedy
Goliath Comedy Club
#ER Comedy What What
#BlacksOnly - David Kau
GAME CHANGER AWARD
SAVANNA COMIC OF THE YEAR AWARD
CHATZ CONNECT AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT RECIPIENT