Jason Goliath Talks Cars, Comedy Clubs And Creativity

We caught up with Jason Goliath to chat about fast cars, getting engaged and opening up a brand spanking new comedy club in Braamfontein.

We did a bit of a deep dive on your Instagram page and saw a photo of you next to a gusheshe, kneeling in front of a pretty girl with something in your hand. What’s that all about?

I am engaged! I am super-excited. The way I proposed to my long-term girlfriend (Sian Bailey) is something that I thought long and hard about. It had to be something special to the both of us and something we could cherish for the rest of our lives. We are both crazy about cars, especially classic BMWs, like the 1979, 635 CSI Turbo. Spinning is also something we enjoy together, whether as spectator or driver (yes, my fiancée can spin). It was a great moment for the both of us – but even a greater moment for me because SHE SAID YES!

You’re known for your obsession with fast cars. Besides the BMW 325i, do you have any other favourites?

Too many to mention. I love my current M3, also my classic rebuild 635 CSI Turbo – it’s my project build at the moment. I love the Jaguar F-Type, the BMW M5 and all things AMG and M. I’m working hard to also say I love all things Lambo, Ferrari and Porsche.

From AWEdnesday to your very own comedy club, Goliath and Goliath has managed to build one of the strongest brands in South African comedy. To what do you owe your success?

We are honestly in love with stand-up comedy; very few people get to derive their income from their passion. Comedy is our first love and, when something is your first love, it is also easier to put in more effort than anybody else in the game. Yes, we work hard but also get so much joy from watching stand-up, producing stand-up, creating platforms for stand-up and helping the industry grow. With that, money has become the by-product instead of the objective – a lot of businesses don’t have the luxury of getting to say that.

Give us the hard and fast history of the Goliath and Goliath brand. When did it pivot from a comedy troupe into a comedy troupe with its own set of comedy clubs and a monster following?

Nicholas Goliath and I started comedy on the 3rd of July 2011, doing an open spot at the Comedy Underground in Melville. We met Donovan Goliath a week later and became friends immediately. We realised that there weren’t enough platforms for comedians to showcase and practise their craft and decided to start AWEdnesday Comedy Jam in October 2011, which became an unexpected success in a very short time, which meant the three of us were working together a lot. This led to deciding to formalise and start a business, and with Kate joining in 2012, Goliath and Goliath was born. Kate is my sister, Nicholas is our cousin and Donovan is no relation, but having the same surname was a great comedy coincidence. Goliath and Goliath recently won the Comics’ Choice – The Best Friend of Comedy Award. This award, voted by comedians, is given to an entity that has provided support, facilitated or championed South African comedy significantly in the last 12 months. This award has only been handed out thrice, and we’ve won all of them. September 2016 also saw Goliath and Goliath being recognised by the South African entertainment industry, receiving a BET A-List award. This exclusive award ceremony celebrates the top 20 movers and shakers in the entertainment industry. G&G will continue to be the best friend of comedy by creating and building new platforms and supporting talent. When comedy wins, Goliath and Goliath win.

Given the success of the clubs you’ve opened so far, you’re taking on the inner city. Why Braamfontein in particular?

We think that Braam is a beautiful story. There was a time when Braam wasn’t a great place to go. But the community has rebranded themselves as the hip, new cool space. Braam also attracts a diverse audience, from students and young adults to families and tourists. Braam is synonymous with great markets, restaurants, bars and clubs, but a focused entertainment partner, besides music, was needed. The current offering is very music focused, and there isn’t someone doing dedicated comedy. We believe a New York-style underground comedy club will be the perfect addition.

What can Joburg expect from the new Goliath Comedy Club in Braamfontein?

A very focused basement-style comedy room. It is about the comedy (there’s no restaurant element), so cinema-style seating, a bar, an amazing stage, great vibe and the best comedy SA has to offer.

What’s the food and drink set-up like at the new club?

Our focus was to bring something we learnt from Melrose Arch. Very often it is not healthy to come into a new space as a competitor, so we are moving into Braam as a complement to the surrounding businesses. We won’t have a restaurant but will encourage patrons to support the amazing restaurants around us like the Bannister, Great Dane, Smoke House etc. This opens up for co-marketing and co-branding opportunities. Instead of taking patrons, we are encouraging foot traffic and sharing patrons by adding to the experience of Braam. A lot of people go to Braam without a defined plan or budget, but know that they want to go out and have fun. “Let’s see what’s  happening in Braam” is the phrase – we want to be one of the things that’s happening in Braam. Also with brand marketing, people will be enticed to check it out, i.e. comedy was not on their itinerary for the day, but now it is.

Seeing as Joburg is the land of opportunity, do you have any wise words for comics who want to make it big in Egoli?

Understand that you have to work incredibly hard – not only on writing, performance and actual stand-up, but working on other vehicles and platforms so that people get to know who you are and that you are funny. About 30–40% is what you do on stage, the rest is the back-end and the business of comedy, which is so important, e.g. networking, diversifying your income streams, ensuring you are getting booked, visiting and performing in as many comedy clubs and rooms as you can. There’s no such thing as an overnight success in comedy, because even the biggest names in comedy today are still learning – experience is key – on stage but also off stage.

On that note, are there any up-and-coming comics who we should keep an eye on?

Glen Biderman Pam, Ebenezer, Mo Matebe and Prince.

Who would win a fight between the Cape Town, Durban and Joburg stand-up comedy scene?

Well, let’s just say I don’t think anyone will be brave enough to fight a Goliath…

Interview by Shawn Greyling

Photos: Mike Turner Photography

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