Comedy Central Africa has partnered with Savanna Premium Cider to host the inaugural Comedy Central International Comedy Festival. Local and international acts will perform, from top stars like Trevor Noah to lesser-known gems.
“We don’t do things ‘just because’,” says channel head Evert Van Der Veer. “We do them to show what Comedy Central stands for: empowering new, local talent and not just staying with established comedians. What makes me passionate about this job is that we always give back to the local comedy scene.”
As head of the network, Van Der Veer has a lot of responsibility. This includes making sure all the departments are profitable.
“I make my financial targets by making sure that the ratings for the channel are high enough for the sales team to sell commercial airtime,” he says. “But the channel is in a good space. The numbers are high.”
One of his goals for 2016 is to use the channel’s online and social media presence to bring the brand to people who have smartphones but might not have DSTV. It all comes down to his belief that comedy plays an important role in society at large.
“They say that comedy is tragedy plus time,” he says. “Some things you can joke about right after they happen and some things you have to wait a bit. That being said, it also depends on the platform. When a comedian makes a joke in the confined space of a stand-up club, he can get away with anything. But he cannot tweet or broadcast those subjects on television because the audience might not be ready for it or they might not understand.”
Still, that’s no reason to shy away from speaking up. Van Der Veer is a strong believer in laughing about the things we might not want to. Otherwise too much goes unsaid.
“Comedy can unify a nation (and a continent) when everybody laughs at the same things, like power in the hands of the corrupt or the lack of power in the hands of Eskom,” he says. “It puts everything in perspective. And without comedy, there is no life.”
The Comedy Central International Comedy Festival (brought to you by Savanna Premium Cider) takes place at the Silverstar Casino in Krugersdorp from 25 November to 5 December. Book at Computicket or learn more at www.comedycentralafrica.com.