“Playing girls is cool, but it’s a lot more fun playing boys.”
Underrated comic genius Chris Lilley is a two-time winner of the Australian Television Industry award along well as the inaugural award for Best Comedy Performance in Television and has produced, written and starred in five mockumentary-formatted mini-series. The shows contain vulgar language, partial nudity, bullying, and a few instances of drug use, so they may be inappropriate for kids (who are missing out…because shows are hilarious). The type of humor in Lilley’s shows is generally too sophisticated for younger viewers to comprehend anyway, and many of the jokes will probably go over their heads.
One of Lilley’s five series Angry Boys (2007) remains the most popular show to date on ABC TV’s, iView with over 1.4 million plays but despite the success of this Sydney-born talent’s shows, he is not nearly as well-known in the United States as he is in his Australia (which makes sense). However, although Lilley’s mini series’ were not aired regularly on cable television the U.S. like they are in Australia (with the exception his latest, Jonah from Tonga (2014), which aired on HBO on cable television), Lilley has sold his work for Internet distribution to BBC in the United Kingdom, HBO in the U.S. and Comedy Network in Canada.
While Lilley, now 40-years-old has been in the television business since his 20s, he didn’t gain the recognition he deserves until he appeared in sketch comedy show, Big Bite in 2003. Later that year he created his first six-episode mini-series, We Can Be Heroes: Finding the Australian of the Year, which follows the daily lives of five very different individuals who are among the thousands of citizens nominated for the honorary title of Australian of the Year. The main characters, all portrayed by Lilley, include Pat, the 40-year-old housewife plagued with the curse of two different length legs, 23-year-old Ricky, a student struggling with his strict parents’ disapproval of their genius son’s desire to become an actor rather than a physician and former police officer Phil, who rescued a group of children in a fly-away inflatable bounce house.
Lilley’s second mockumentary series, Summer Heights High (2007) became his most-recognized series in the U.S. The series is available on hbo.com for free, can be purchased on both vudu.com and amazon.com for $1.99 per episode and $14.99 for the entire series. This series, rated 8.7 out 10 on tv.com, has earned massive ratings for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The series, which is set mainly on the Summer Heights High public school campus, includes three main characters: the disobedient trouble-maker Jonah who constantly insults his kind, patient teacher so no one becomes suspicious of his crush on her, the spoiled self-absorbed private exchange student Jam’ie who, on her first day at Summer Heights High, decides she is the most popular girl in school because she is generally “better” than everyone and the melodramatic drama teacher, or “Acting Director of Performing Arts” as he prefers, Mr. G. Lilley’s third mini series, Ja’mie: Private Schoool Girl focuses on the conceited exchange student from Summer Heights in a spinoff series. Jonah also stars in his own spinoff of Summer Heights in Lilley’s final mini series, Jonah from Tonga, which focuses on the daily life of the nuisance who was first introduced in Summer Heights.What is it about Lilley that makes him such a brilliant comic? Certainly his unconventional methods add to his success tremendously along with the fact that his mockumentaries are unique in the sense that character featured in the shows are so different from each other but still have something in common. The fact that every main character is portrayed by Lilley is of course, is different from many other shows. As described on abc.net, the characters Lilley creates in each series “represent the full spectrum of Australian society.”
Lilley’s shows don’t even need to be a few episodes deep before they start getting good; they are hysterical from the very beginning of the first episode to the very end of the last episode. After watching just one episode of his collection of series viewers will quickly realize that Lilley is a natural observer of different types people and controversial issues in the world.
His characters are realistic and their personal issues are realistic because almost each of their issues and personalities are so ridiculous that it’s hard to believe somebody could make them up. Lilley however, has the observation skills to create such situations.
Although Lilley’s recognition for his comic work is unsurprisingly greater where his career began and his shows were produced, his popularity is creeping across the U.S. and steadily reaching different audiences. With his series available on the web and on-television apps, mockumentary subjects like Mr. G and Jonah are grabbing U.S audiences by the shoulders and pulling them into the hilarious world of Chris Lilley.
Expect to be hooked on the series once you check them out and prepare to be amazed by this actor/ writer/ producer’s natural ability to bring laughter to the world with his awareness of world issues and different types of people…while exploiting them for laughs. So check out Chris Lilley, because a true comic genius like him is hard to come by. Follow Chris Lilley on Twitter.