The Arts

Jul 31, 2017

If we find Chris Lilley’s blackface racist (and it is), what do we make of Sacha Baron Cohen?

The offensive Chris Lilley performance nobody talks about -- and why his comedy is graceless.

Luke Buckmaster — Writer, Critic and The Daily Review Journalist

Luke Buckmaster

Writer, Critic and The Daily Review Journalist

Chris Lilley offensive

Oh dear. Last weekend Chris Lilley reminded the world that he existed and ... it didn’t end well. In fact, it was all kinds of awful. With the comedian having recently garnered media attention in the wake of his most recent series, Jonah From Tonga, being axed from Maori Television, the publicity wing of Lilley’s flailing one-man empire decided on a somewhat unusual strategy to restore public favour.

He decided to -- and as they say, you couldn’t write this -- upload a video on his Instagram account called "Squashed N**ga". It contained vision of himself in blackface (as one of his characters, the rapper S.mouse) as well as images of a person lying on the road after being run over.

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34 thoughts on “If we find Chris Lilley’s blackface racist (and it is), what do we make of Sacha Baron Cohen?

  1. jon t

    Dont blame him, its the fault of the ABC for ever letting him on air

  2. [email protected]

    I have always found Lilley’s sense of “humour” utterly cringe-worthy. Even Summer Heights High was painful to watch. I have no idea why the ABC keeps funding this absolute trash.
    Give me Shaun Micallef or Borat anyday. Chris Lilley has always been, and will always be; a hack, that bullies powerless minorities for cheap laughs. I’m glad the media has finally woken up to this. Hopefully now the ABC will stop wasting taxpayers money on this git.

    1. mikeb

      He hasn’t been on the ABC since 2014.

  3. Nudiefish

    I couldn’t care if it is racist, comedy is supposed to be edgy. Lilley is simply not funny. I never understood his appeal ten years ago and I don’t get it now.

    1. Nudiefish

      I just clicked on the 2006 Logie’s link.

      Oh, my sainted Grandmother, what the hell did I just watch?

  4. mikeb

    Thanks for that youtube link Luke. It was hilarious satire.
    As for Jonah from Tonga. Presumably you didn’t watch it because if you did you’d know that J was a sympathetic character. You can argue about the blackface stuff and call it racist I suppose but throwing labels around is easy, and the intent from Lilley is certainly not racist. The worst thing about S.mouse is that the character is not particularly funny and so the satire isn’t as effective. I think a lot of people who look at Lilley’s work don’t try and think too deeply about it.

    1. Andrew P Street

      “You can argue about the blackface stuff and call it racist…”
      Correct, you can. You know, since it is and everything.

      1. mikeb

        Sure thing. The answer is all so black and white eh?

    2. Robert Robinson

      Spot on.
      You won’t get what he’s trying say if you watch a few minutes or even one episode. But if you want to be offended, you will poor baby.

  5. Dog's Breakfast

    Well, I could never understand why anyone ever thought he had the slightest hint of actual talent. There is very little humour there, and what there is is no higher grade than a primary school play, but at least they are put on by young kids.

    I’d argue that there are no layers to his satire at all, and that it isn’t even satire, it’s just crass.

    And thanks, but there’s no way I will be clicking on that link, your description made me cringe enough.

  6. CML

    Racist, unfunny, boring git!!

  7. edwin coleman

    It’s good to know that we have TV critics who know just what is and isn’t racist since smart and funny creative people don’t.

  8. Lee Tinson

    I thought Jonah was probably his most sympathetic character. And I didn’t really see any racism in it either. Problem I found with Chris is he isn’t particularly funny, and with summer heights high there wasn’t really anything interesting to delve into. Just like Borat. But Ali G, now that was funny

  9. Mark Tanner

    This is called holding a big fat mirror up.
    Humour is one way to find a connection to each other. This beyond the edge of the seat comedy is laying foundations for Australian society for years to come, I’d suggest.

  10. (the other) HR Nicholls

    He is, I think, a really good mimic – has a good eye for movement and mannerisms. I knew a guy like Jonah at high school – not any sort of islander, mind you, just a generic boofhead, the ‘not a bad guy but a troublemaker’ type. Same with Ja’mie and the teacher. They could have done Summer Heights High without the Tongan angle and it would have lost nothing.

    The problem is that I think Lilley has confused his mimicry for satire… which it ain’t by a long chalk. That’s a charitable take, anyway – the Smouse clip farrago suggests that he’s just a tone deaf dickhead or worse. But the fact that his last THREE series have tanked and had bad reviews probably counts more against him at this point.

    Nobody remembers the Logies thing because nobody has cared about the Logies for 20 years.

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