Comedian Ebenhaezer Dibakwane. Picture: Jo Spies

‘I need to hit the strip club.” He says it quickly, almost like it’s true. Ebenhaezer Dibakwane doesn’t take time to go back to the night he took home the Newcomer Waldo at the 2016 Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards. So when I ask him what was the first thing he thought after his name was called, he quickly says: “I need to hit the strip club.”

The he laughs and says: “I’m joking! I’m joking! I saw Loyiso Gola stand up on his feet. Then I saw Kagiso Lediga on his feet, Robbie Collins, Lazola Gola and Mojak Lehoko. I just saw my heroes on their feet. I’d been struggling before that so the first thing I thought was: I’ve done it. I’ve proven it to myself and my heroes see what I’m doing. It was really surreal and affirming.”

Someone else will get the chance to experience a feeling similar to Dibakwane’s at the eighth annual Comics’ Choice Awards, which will take place at the Lyric Theatre on September 8.

Leading up to the awards, and for the sixth year in a row, 24 budding comedians will perform for five minutes at The Savanna Newcomer Showcase at the Soweto Theatre on May 20.

Comedian Ebenhaezer Dibakwane. Picture: Jo Spies

The awards, which are brought to you in partnership with Savanna Premium Cider, Kaya FM, Independent Online and 1Magic, even have new categories: The Next Level award, the Comedy G award and the Gamechanger award.

The last time I spoke to Dibakwane, who also won the Breakthrough award last year, he told me winning an award “might give you a platform but it won’t up your comedy”. For that, you need time.

“Comedians are the black sheep of the entertainment industry so we still have to work and hustle to up the industry. I believe what will up your comedy is time. Beg for five (minutes). Play in as many different venues as you can find. Play as often as you can and don’t forget to die. People who aren’t afraid to do badly become - and stay - the best for much longer. A lot of people burn out. You need time to build your foundation.”

Comedian Ebenhaezer Dibakwane. Picture: Jo Spies

Aside from comedy, Dibakwane appeared in Lediga’s film, Catching Feelings. About this experience, Dibakwane says: “Acting is so weird because you get there in your raggedy clothes and then they dress you up in chains and nice clothes and then you’ve got to go back into your own clothes and remember that you’ve got to work harder.”

Dibakwane has just shot a short film with Thishiwe Ziqubu for SABC and says he’s is working on his own screenplay.

“I would like to get into the production side. Trying to find a producer and funding has been a hassle,” he says.

This year has been a really busy one for Dibakwane. He even competed in the South African version of Dancing With The Stars. If you’re wondering which is harder - dancing in public or trying out new stand-up material - Dibakwane quips: “They’re very difficult in very different ways. But I’d say as far as my body goes, trying out new material has been slightly more manageable,” he laughs. “I don’t have to do sit-ups.”

Dibakwane was the first celebrity to be booted off the TV competition but he didn’t allow that to faze him.

“In the beginning, it was painful, no lie,” he confesses.

“Then my alarm went off at six in the morning the next day and I didn’t have to wake up so I was like: ‘You know whaaaaaat sometimes there are silver linings in the cloud.’

“No one likes to be the first to leave, but nothing was lost. I got some dope PR and met some beautiful people.”

* The Comics’ Choice Awards will take place at the Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City, on September 8.

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