Basic Info

John Vlismas
Contributor Status:
Native AdVantage
Initial Contribution Date:

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Entertainment - Other
Personal Career Headline:
Stand Up Comedian & Speaker

My Native AdVert

Career Snapshot:

I have been a busy stand up comedian for 25 years. I won an award at some point. That has served me well as a paperweight. I founded the company which manages me. I don’t own it any more, but I do co-own the Savanna Comic’s Choice Awards, OGO Productions, On Fire Entertainment and Upside Global. My contribution to all of the above is creative in essence, but ranges from strategy to writing, direction and design thinking.

Native AdMission Statement (AKA Personal Brand Pitch):

I’m an outsider. I was raised by WASPS in an illegally privileged way, but despite that, I went on to major in alcoholism with honours in drug addiction. Not all sad, though – I managed to turn ADD and an anti-social, introverted streak into a career as a fairly rude and controversial stand-up comedian. I sobered up, raised a pretty talented child, started some businesses and am studying at Henley Business School. I also lecture there when I have time, which is hugely rewarding.

My Native AdVantage

What are your aspirations? (Personal and Business):

I’d like to build and sell a unique bundle of businesses to a large corporation and then focus on travel, art and personal relationships more than I do now.

Biggest Success?:

I’d like to say 13 years and 9 months of clean time, but I don’t believe that part of my life completely defines me. Pouring new energy into being a parent, and the process of pivoting from a career in comedy to a new and hard-to-box chapter, including a degree and two new businesses. It has been a real stretch mentally and personally. I am also proud and privileged to be a student and teacher of sorts, given my history with education.

Most Challenging Moment?:

I recently lost my father and also ended a relationship of 15 years. I also left the first business I started. These things all happened in a quick sequence and almost knocked me off course. 


Never, ever, ever give up.

Favorite People/Role Models?:

My family is an important foundation. I have a habit of seeking mentors out. They are diverse and unconventional. I’m lucky that my friends and business partners are high-quality humans. You don’t need many if they are gems. In terms of role models – this is tricky. We live in age where it seems role models are increasingly being exposed as having betrayed the trust placed in them. Let’s just say that I don’t believe in role modelling as much as rapid prototyping of new models : )

What Else To Know

My Thought of the Day:

Perfection is a disease.

My Action of the Day:

Serve someone with less power than you daily.

My Deed of the Day:

Don’t know that I have one everyday.

My Tip of the Day:

No matter how loud you set the alarm, if you’re only pretending to be asleep, it can never wake you.

My Pic of the Day:
Tell Us More:

My Pic of the Day: This was the perfect way to say goodbye to my father, who died recently. We had a close family gathering and took a moment to reflect on his life at a place he loved very much.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

The pace, and the appetite for hustling – set against lots of trees.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Avo and poached egg on rye. Jacksons Wholefood.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM finishing off studies for the day.

10:00 AM meetings.

12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

A poke bowl at ONO.

7:00 PM Making dinner with daughter – catching up on the day. Possibly heading out for a show.

11:00 PM – heading to bed, for an hour of Netflix before sleep.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Black Coffee and sparkling water. No alcohol allowed – we broke up almost 14 years ago.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

At the moment – Eskom Se Push. Helps me plan ahead.

What should everyone try at least once?

Scuba Diving. I’m not big on heights, but moderate depths are great.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

In any foreign city.

My Native AdVice:

How did you get into the industry?

I fell into comedy almost by accident. I studied Drama and there was little or no work around. Stand-up was evolving from an older, right wing genre into a more democratic beast, and I hitched a ride. That isn’t strictly true. I carved out a piece of the industry with a few colleagues – we had to build the infrastructure as we went. A circuit, management, an audience – we did it piece by piece.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Focus on the quality of your work. There’s craft and there are politics. Focus on your stage time, not the noise you hear before/after the show. Great practitioners just grab the mike and work the room. Average talent wastes time whining about why they never made it. Don’t take too much advice – the audience is all that matters.

Any emerging industry trends?

New content distribution platforms have democratized power and reduced the distance between the talent and the market. Barriers to entry have fallen away, this means far more content, lower average quality and a diluted market. In the long run, this is good, as the market is more discerning with more choice. In the short term, especially for the middle and aging talent bands, that available work is scarce. It’s tough but necessary in the maturing of the industry.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Clear communication of what the show will include, seamless booking experience, intelligent line-ups for the targeted audience, fast-paced shows and variety relevant to the demographic.

How do you motivate others?

Leading by example is important, but not doing other people’s work. I try to be respectful of those I lead, but equally to myself. I believe in empowering people and asking them to have a voice in the workspace. Robust debate and clear, healthy boundaries are great tools.

Primary Location

Are you sure you want to manually enter your location? Have you tried typing the first few letters?

SUBMIT your location My Location is Not Listed (enter manually) clear location