ENTERTAINMENT
12/07/2018 17:48 SAST | Updated 12/07/2018 18:19 SAST

Pieter-Dirk Uys Lifetime Achievement Winner In 2018 Comics' Choice Awards

After more than 40 years lampooning those in power, the national treasure has been recognised with the highest accolade South African comics can bestow.

Pieter-Dirk Uys as Evita Bezuidenhout.
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Pieter-Dirk Uys as Evita Bezuidenhout.

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.

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Pieter-Dirk Uys speaks at Wits University on April 23 2012.

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)

David Kau

Marc Lottering

Loyiso Gola

Alan Committie

Celeste Ntuli

SAVANNA NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR

Bongani Dube

Lindy Johnson

Tsitsi Chiumya

Gilli Apter

Nonto Rubushe

NEXT LEVEL AWARD

Eric Jansen

Phil de Lange

Thabiso Mhlongo

Chik Aljoy

Ebenhaezer Dibakwane

SAVANNA PAN-AFRICAN COMIC OF THE YEAR AWARD

Basketmouth (Nigeria)

Carl Joshua Ncube (Zimbabwe)

Kansiime Anne Entertainer (Uganda)

Salvado (Uganda)

Charles Manase (Botswana)

NATIVE TONGUE AWARD

Skhumba Hlophe

Thapelo King Flat

Celeste Ntuli

Mashabela Galane

Siya Seya

FLYING SOLO AWARD

Carvin Goldstone

Celeste Ntuli

Loyiso Gola

Alfred Adriaan

Skhumba Hlophe

COMICS' PEN AWARD

Kagiso Lediga

Christopher Steenkamp

Thenjiwe Moseley

Lazola Gola

Dalin Oliver

BEST FRIEND OF COMEDY AWARD

On Fire Comedy

Goliath Comedy Club

Gino Fernandez

#ER Comedy What What

#BlacksOnly - David Kau

GAME CHANGER AWARD

Carvin Goldstone

Skhumba Hlophe

Loyiso Gola

Celeste Ntuli

Kagiso Lediga

SAVANNA COMIC OF THE YEAR AWARD

Carvin Goldstone

Mpho Modikoane

Skhumba Hlophe

Alfred Adriaan

Robby Collins

CHATZ CONNECT AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD

Abuti Lolo

Summary

Teboho Theoha

Pele-Pele Mchunu

Kwanda Radebe

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT RECIPIENT

Pieter-Dirk Uys

Tickets for the 2018 Savanna South African Comics' Choice Awards on September 8 at the Lyric Theatre can be purchased here.