Donovan Goliath: Illustrator and Stand-Up Comedian

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Growing up in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, Donovan Goliath says that: “The closest thing to creativity for me was hand painted signs on spaza shop windows and walls. I loved drawing so I would try and mimic the illustrations of coke cans, cigarettes and loaves of bread.”


Donovan went on to study Art and Design at NNMU, and later found himself working as an art director at Network BBDO. A few good years down the line, he felt like it was time for a new challenge. “I wanted that feeling of waking up in the morning and being excited, afraid, and not knowing what I was in for,” Donovan says. “I also wanted to try out a new creative outlet. I love performing and doing impersonations – there’s something really awesome about people laughing at your crazy thoughts. It took me two months to write a 5 minute set, which I performed at Cool Runnings. I did it again and it worked, and slowly the bug started biting.” And this, essentially, is how Donovan came to be a stand-up comedian.


Not diminishing his previous career, however, Donovan says that: “Being an art director at Network BBDO was the best training ground for me. The cut throat, competitive and demanding nature of advertising really prepares you for anything out there. It helped me come up with bigger and bolder ideas, sharpen my presentation skills and become a better writer. All this training really helps when writing jokes and delivering them on stage.”


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In 2012 Donovan Goliath partnered with Jason Goliath (whom he met two years ago at Cool Runnings, so their shared surname is completely coincidental) and his cousin Nicholas to found a unit called Goliath&Goliath. “Jason and Nicholas had started doing comedy not long after me so there were three of us on the circuit,” he says. “They got the idea to start their own gig in order to have a platform to practise and build an audience for themselves, and they pulled me into the group. Eventually, our flagship gig Awednesday was born. We joked about the fact that we had the same surname and pretty much came to the conclusion that we could either compete to let the country decide who the funniest Goliath was, or join forces to create something new, disrupt the industry and build a solid brand for ourselves.” To this day, Donovan hasn’t looked back on the decision and their brand has grown faster than they had anticipated. Now, Goliath&Goliath runs seven gigs around Johannesburg and manages six artists, all of whom are working towards their respective one man shows.


In addition to being a comedian, Donovan has been getting back to his roots by designing and illustrating logos and posters. “I haven’t done freehand illustration in a while and when I do, it’s always very loose and organic. I try not to erase anything if I’ve made a mistake – instead I work over it and see where it takes me,” Donovan says of his approach. “My digital illustration is always very simple, bold and clean. I believe in extraction – keep taking out what you don’t need and see if the image still works. Strangely enough, this is a golden rule in comedy writing as well. Remove unnecessary words and lines and get to the point/laugh quicker,” he notes.


Donovan’s inspirations are varied, including everything from 90s hip hop music, fashion, writing, graffiti, Mthata, vintage cars, his girlfriend and sister and even Pharrell Williams. Going forward he plans to inject all of this and more into more personal design and illustration work, which he hopes will ultimately result in an exhibition. Other than that, Donovan is currently writing his one man show, reviewing up-and-coming movies on Vuzu Tv once a week, and prepping a huge show that Goliath&Goliath are taking to the Grahamstown festival.


Keep up to date with Donovan on Twitter and Instagram.


Donovan Goliath - LOYISO GOLA

Donovan Goliath - REASON ARTWORK

Donovan Goliath - FARAH FORTUNE

Donovan Goliath

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Donovan Goliath - MADIBA

Donovan Goliath - SOUTH AFRICA20


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