No punch­lines will be pulled in new com­edy roast TV

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KHAYA KOKO

“COM­EDY doesn’t have a job to play. That’s one of the rea­sons peo­ple love it – it’s the un­cle who breaks the rules.”

So said vet­eran co­me­dian John Vlis­mas when asked about the role he en­vis­aged com­edy play­ing in South Africa.

Known for his con­fronta­tional brand of com­edy, Vlis­mas is prob­a­bly the most apt per­son to host Com­edy Cen­tral’s Roast Bat­tle, which pre­mieres tonight at 9pm. It will be a six-part TV series – fea­tur­ing six co­me­di­ans in each episode – which will pit some of the coun­try’s most caus­tic comics in a no-holds-barred joust of de­spi­ca­ble in­sults and snappy one-lin­ers.

As the roast-mas­ter, Vlis­mas is keen on let­ting the bat­tlers go hard at each other, ex­plain­ing that his job was to “set a tone where any­thing is al­lowed, switch off your own lim­its and al­low the bat­tlers to con­trol the con­tent”.

“My job is to keep the rounds go­ing and try not to leave any­one hang­ing.”

As some­one who is known for de­liv­er­ing a brash brand of hu­mour, Vlis­mas con­ceded that trep­i­da­tion fre­quently sets in be­fore he de­liv­ers a com­edy set.

“I’m al­ways ner­vous – not be­cause of how peo­ple will re­act, but be­cause I want my work to be good.

“In terms of be­ing edgy and con­fronta­tional, I don’t set out to cause of­fence.

“I sim­ply high­light the fact that the truth is gen­er­ally hard to ac­cept, but a re­lief once it’s out in the open,” he pointed out.

Vlis­mas added that a lot of thought went into his com­edy, in that he didn’t want to ham­mer on about race jokes – cit­ing his new stand-up show, The Good Racist, which he said was not a col­lec­tion of race jokes, but an in-depth look at racism.

“I’m not in­ter­ested in do­ing dick or race jokes, but the topic of sex is won­der­ful as it con­nects us all – and I’m not against pulling out a willy ref­er­ence in a tough room. Racial stereo­types are not only un­in­tel­li­gent, but keep au­di­ences back from de­vel­op­ing,” he con­tended.

Roast Bat­tle’s pre­miere sees Loy­iso Madinga, Rob van Vu­uren, Eric Jansen, Simmi Ar­eff, Dono­van Go­liath and Martin Evans squar­ing up to each other in what prom­ises to be a series of rapid and bru­tal comedic com­bat.

The comics will be ini­tially paired, af­ter which Vlis­mas, the guest judges and the stu­dio au­di­ence will de­cide who pro­ceeds to the next round, un­til there is an even­tual win­ner.

More ex­cit­ing comics are in store for view­ers next week, in­clud­ing the ever ef­fer­ves­cent Tumi Mo­rake, who is sure to bring her award-win­ning “Thaba Nchu-meets-Joburg” brand of com­edy. No won­der Vlis­mas is bullish about the fu­ture of South African com­edy.

“South Africa has a grow­ing mid­dle class and dig­i­tal ac­cess to global com­edy. Be­tween the greater com­edy ‘lit­er­acy’ and some dis­pos­able in­come, more peo­ple are sup­port­ing lo­cal com­edy.

“So there will al­ways be room for more (comics) and more good com­edy.

“Com­edy is a uni­ver­sal com­men­ta­tor on sen­si­tive sub­jects, a con­nec­tor of au­di­ences and an op­por­tu­nity to feel em­pa­thy,” he said.


John Vlis­mas is

to host Com­edy Cen­tral’s Roast

Bat­tle, which is a six-part tele­vi­sion series fea­tur­ing six co­me­di­ans per show.

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