No funny business as top SA comedians fight over awards

John Vlismas , a South African stand-up comedian and entertainment promoter, poses for a portrait in Rosebank, Johannesburg.
John Vlismas , a South African stand-up comedian and entertainment promoter, poses for a portrait in Rosebank, Johannesburg.
Image: ALON SKUY/THE TIMES

Two of South Africa's top comedians are going head to head – but the battle is not taking place on stage.

Durban-based Carvin H Goldstone has accused John Vilsmas of funny business and is calling for the suspension and full audit of the annual Comics' Choice Awards.

He told this publication that Vlismas and his company‚ Whacked‚ had brought the awards into question with the nomination of a comedian who didn't have a solo show in the past year in the Flying Solo category.

"The artist in question‚ Alfred Adriaan‚ is managed by‚ and had this same solo show produced by‚ John Vlismas' company‚ Whacked. And remember‚ John is also one of the owners of the Comics’ Choice Awards‚" he said.

Goldstone said it was not a case of sour grapes‚ as he was nominated in three categories. Instead‚ he had a right to question why Adriaan was nominated for a solo show that opened on June 27 when the call for entries closed on May 3.

He said voting for the awards ended on July 4‚ a week after Adriaan's show‚ which only played in Johannesburg‚ debuted.

"Alfred Adriaan's name came up a second time as he was also nominated as South African Comic of the Year‚ the highest accolade in the Comics Choice Awards. Quite an achievement for an act who had just debuted his first ever solo show only a week earlier‚ but still entirely possible.

"But this set off alarm bells across the comedy industry."

Goldstone said he learned that there was no recognised independent auditor. Therefore‚ he was calling for the awards to be suspended and for an investigation or audit of the whole process.

He added that he chose to raise the matter on Facebook as he wanted the comedy industry to see the responses.

Vlismas told TimesLIVE that Adriaan's show had not been launched at the time of registration but it was open while voting took place.

"There are no criteria in our terms and conditions that state when a show should have launched or run‚ but the general consensus is that it must be live before or during the voting process of the year in question.

"There are many shows all over the country. Provided they have fulfilled the criteria: a signed lease‚ marketing plan and official ticketing system all in place‚ they are valid for entry. This show was live during the voting process‚” he said.

Vlismas‚ a co-founder of the awards‚ emphasised that it was separate business entity from his company‚ Whacked. Moreover‚ in the history of the awards‚ only one of the 54 statues awarded was won by to an artist managed by Whacked.

"We are always open to the industry giving us feedback on the awards’ process and welcome Carvin’s comments‚ but we deny these claims as there is no foundation for any wrongdoing."

An independent audit has been commissioned to investigate Goldstone's complaint.

"There have been no other complaints on this nomination. In fact‚ the industry has come out to support Adriaan on his nomination as they’re the ones who voted for him‚" Vlismas said.

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