No punchlines will be pulled in new comedy roast TV
“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.