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Chris Lilley (comedian)

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Chris Lilley
Chris Lilley 2014 (2).jpg
Lilley at the 2014 ARIA Music Awards, Sydney, 26 November 2014
Birth nameChristopher Daniel Lilley
Born (1974-11-10) 10 November 1974 (age 44)[1]
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Alma materMacquarie University
Notable works and rolesBig Bite
We Can Be Heroes
Summer Heights High
Angry Boys
Ja'mie: Private School Girl
Jonah from Tonga

Christopher Daniel Lilley (born 10 November 1974)[1] is an Australian comedian, actor, television producer, musician and screenwriter. He is a two-time winner of the Logie Award for Most Popular Actor, he is known for his creation and portrayal of several characters in the mockumentary television series We Can Be Heroes: Finding The Australian of the Year (2005), Summer Heights High (2007), Angry Boys (2011), Ja'mie: Private School Girl (2013) and Jonah from Tonga (2014).[2][3]

In 2015, Lilley was also the main actor for The Stafford Brothers, Rick Ross and Jay Sean's "When You Feel This" music video.

Early life[edit]

Lilley was born in Sydney, Australia. He is the youngest of four siblings and insisted on being a vegetarian from the age of five.[4] He was raised in Turramurra and attended Pymble Public School. He later studied at Barker College, and obtained a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Contemporary Music) with a Diploma of Education from Macquarie University in Sydney, when he graduated in 1997.

He began his career in his twenties as a stand-up comedian while also working as a childcare worker at Turramurra North Public School and a shop assistant.[5] He currently resides in Melbourne, Victoria.


Early career[edit]

Lilley in 2009

In 2003, Lilley made his debut in Big Bite, a Seven Network comedy programme, in which he portrayed extreme sports enthusiast Extreme Darren and the high-school drama teacher Mr G, a character that he continued in Summer Heights High.[6] Big Bite was nominated for Best Television Comedy Series at the 2003 Australian Film Institute Awards, marking the first time a comedy programme from a commercial television network had ever been nominated at the Australian Film Institute Awards. It did not win. The producers co-credited Lilley; however, the show lasted only one series before being spun off into a comedy/variety programme. Lilley was a recurring guest on the programme, but it was cancelled after only a few episodes.

Lilley has been acknowledged for his awareness and expression of controversial issues and not exploiting them for laughs.[7][8]

Lilley appeared in the film satire Ned, based on the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. He appeared as the "MSN Butterfly" in a series of television advertisements and Cinema for MSN. He has also appeared on the Hamish & Andy radio show.

We Can Be Heroes[edit]

After the cancellation of Big Bite, Lilley created We Can Be Heroes: Finding The Australian of the Year, a six-part series on the ABC, in which he portrayed various characters nominated for the Australian of the Year Award.[9] The series was co-written with Ryan Shelton.[10]

Lilley portrayed several characters in the series: Phil Olivetti, a self-obsessed police officer; Ricky Wong, a Chinese Australian university physics student from Melbourne; Pat Mullins, a 47-year-old housewife with a dream to roll on her side from Perth, Western Australia to Uluru, Northern Territory; Daniel Sims, a teenage boy who donates an eardrum to his deaf twin brother, Nathan (both Daniel and Nathan later appeared in "Angry Boys"); and Ja'mie King, an arrogant girl attending a private high school in Sydney (Ja'mie later appeared in "Summer Heights High" and "Ja'mie: Private School Girl").

Lilley was nominated for Best Comedy Series and Best Lead Actor in Television at the 2006 Australian Film Institute Awards, and won the Best New Talent and Most Outstanding Comedy Program awards at the Logie Awards of 2006. He also received a Rose d'Or award in Switzerland for Best Male Comedy Performance. Following the series' success, it was sold to other countries under the new name, The Nominees.

Summer Heights High[edit]

Lilley achieved overwhelming success with his second mockumentary series, Summer Heights High, which aired on ABC TV in 2007.[11]

In the series, Lilley played the series' three main characters at a public school. In March 2008, Lilley released a single, Naughty Girl, based on the series and performed in character as the Summer Heights High drama teacher, Mr G.[12]

At the 2008 Logie Awards he was nominated for four awards including Most Outstanding Actor and Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Television,[13] and won the Silver Logie for Most Popular Actor[14] and the Logie Award for Most Outstanding Comedy Program.[15]

The series was sold to the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Lilley embarked on a promotional tour of the United States in October 2008 to promote the U.S. broadcast of the series, which began to air on HBO on 9 November 2008.[16] The BBC began showing the programme on BBC Three in June 2008.[17]

When asked about whether there would be a second series, Lilley stated, "I never thought about it in the beginning because it was always a one-off thing. I'm not into just cashing in and rolling off into a second series that is not as good. I really enjoyed making the show, so the thought of writing and going back there again is really fun and exciting, but I haven't made a decision on what to do next."[17]

Angry Boys[edit]

Lilley in 2012

The much anticipated Angry Boys aired on ABC in Australia and BBC in the UK in 2011 and HBO in the US in 2012. The 12-part comedy series brought to life six vastly different characters and was met by worldwide acclaim and sold to over 100 countries. In Australia, Angry Boys remains the most popular program to date on ABC TV's iView with over 1.4 million plays. In Angry Boys Lilley plays multiple new characters in his third mockumentary series. The show introduces: S.mouse!, a US rapper; Jen Okazaki, a manipulative Japanese mother; Blake Oakfield, a champion surfer; Ruth "Gran" Sims, a guard at a juvenile detention facility; and her grandchildren, South Australian twins Daniel and Nathan Sims (who also featured in We Can Be Heroes). Chris Lilley was awarded the inaugural AACTA Award in 2012 for Best Comedy Performance in Television for Angry Boys.

Ja'mie: Private School Girl[edit]

On his Facebook page, Lilley confirmed that he was working on a new show. However, he said that he would not give any further details as to what the show would be about, stating that the fans would enjoy it more if the show was a surprise to them. He also added that the show would be aired in 2013 in Australia. ABC also confirmed that Lilley's new series would be released in 2013,[18] and that it is a six-part half-hour comedy series. The series is being produced by Melbourne-based production company Princess Pictures and Chris Lilley and is a co-production between the ABC in Australia and HBO in the US. It has been pre-sold to BBC Three in the UK.[19] On 8 September 2013, Lilley revealed that the returning character to the series is Ja'mie King, from We Can Be Heroes and Summer Heights High, and also revealed the title of the show.[20][21] Lilley won the 2014 Silver Logie for Most Popular Actor for his performance in Ja'mie: Private School Girl.[22]

Jonah from Tonga[edit]

On November 26, 2013, Lilley confirmed that he would be reviving Jonah Takalua (Summer Heights High) for a new show in 2014, titled Jonah From Tonga.[23][24][25] The show was originally posted online on the ABC iView service, available for viewing by Australian residents, and on BBC iPlayer in the United Kingdom, from 2–4 May 2014, before airing on ABC1 from 7 May 2014 and BBC Three from 8 May 2014.[26][27] The series was called "racist"[28] and "creepy"[29] and resulted in protests from academics[30] and Tongan youth[29] concerned at the inaccurate and demeaning portrayals of Tongan culture. There was also criticism of his use of brownface.[31][32][33]

Many major US civil rights organizations wrote to HBO expressing their "deep concern" over the show. These included the NAACP, National Hispanic Media Coalition, American Indians in Film/TV, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities and The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (which itself includes the Asian American Justice Center, Asian Pacific American Advocates, Japanese American Citizens League, Media Action Network for Asian Americans, National Federation of Filipino American Associations, and more).[34]

Netflix series[edit]

In March 2018, it was announced that Chris Lilley had been signed by Netflix to create a 10-part series, with the titular character not yet disclosed. Filming has already begun at the Bond University campus on the Gold Coast, Australia.[35]


On 29 July 2017, Lilley was the subject of criticism after posting a remix on his Instagram account of a music clip entitled "Squashed Nigga", starring the character S.mouse from Lilley's 2011 TV show, Angry Boys. The music video featured an indigenous boy lying on the ground with his arms splayed. On 24 July 2017, the court case based on the death of Elijah Doughty had ended in controversy and was the subject of pro-Aboriginal protests. Just like the real case, Lilley's music video described an Aboriginal boy being run over and killed. It was reported that many who criticised Lilley's bad timing were blocked from his Twitter account, with Lilley later deleting his social media accounts.[36]


Logie Awards
Preceded by
No previous award in this category
Graham Kennedy Award for Most Outstanding New Talent
for We Can Be Heroes
Succeeded by
Tammy Clarkson
for The Circuit
Preceded by
The Chaser
for The Chaser Decides
Most Outstanding Comedy Program
for We Can Be Heroes (with Laura Waters)
Succeeded by
Working Dog Productions for Thank God You're Here
Preceded by
Aaron Jeffery
for McLeod's Daughters
Most Popular Actor
for Summer Heights High
Succeeded by
Todd Lasance
for Home and Away
Preceded by
Working Dog Productions
for Thank God You're Here
Most Outstanding Comedy Program
for Summer Heights High (with Laura Waters)
Succeeded by
Working Dog Productions
for The Hollowmen
Preceded by
Steve Peacocke
for Home and Away
Most Popular Actor
for Ja'mie: Private School Girl
Succeeded by
Steve Peacocke
Home and Away
Rose d'Or
Preceded by
David Walliams with Matt Lucas
for Little Britain
Best Male Comedy Performance
for We Can Be Heroes
Succeeded by
Tiger Aspect Productions for The Vicar of Dibley


  1. ^ a b The dates 10 November 1974, 15 April 1975 and 25 April 1975 appear in sources
  2. ^ "Chris Lilley Biography". Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  3. ^ Wilmoth, Peter (4 May 2008). "Gilding the Lilley". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  4. ^ Deacon, Michael (7 June 2011). "Angry Boys: Chris Lilley interview". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  5. ^ Callaghan, Greg (30 April 2011). "Chris Lilley is the man in the comic mask". The Australian. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  6. ^ Idato, Michael (11 September 2013). "Jonah Takalua to join Ja'mie King in new Chris Lilley series: sources". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  7. ^ Downie, Stephen; Casey, Marcus (23 September 2007). "Chris Lilley just misunderstood - fans". Herald Sun. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  8. ^ Fans queue to meet comedian Chris Lilley Archived 26 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. NineMSN News. Accessed 4 July 2008.
  9. ^ Romeo, Demetrius (26 July 2005). "Chris Lilley". Stand and Deliver!. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  10. ^ "We Can Be Heroes". 27 July 2005 – via IMDb.
  11. ^ "Chris Lilley ready for next ABC project". 8 May 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  12. ^ Naughty Girl (Mr. G(Chris Lilley)) Archived 28 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. Accessed 4 July 2008.
  13. ^ "Lilley and Hills threaten Rove and Ritche for Gold Logie". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australian Associated Press. 7 April 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  14. ^ "Lilley wins Silver Logie". ABC News. 4 May 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  15. ^ Bastow, Clem (8 May 2008). "Logie-Mad Chris Lilley Desperately Seeks Further Awards-Bait". Defamer Australia. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  16. ^ Dunn, Emily; McKenny, Leesha (17 October 2008). "Happy being cult". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  17. ^ a b Wilkes, Neil (11 June 2008). "Chris Lilley ('Summer Heights High')". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  18. ^ Brookes, Dylan (29 November 2012). "ABC TV in 2013… Amazing!". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  19. ^ Cubito, Adam (20 February 2013). "New Chris Lilley series in production for ABC1". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  20. ^ "Summer Heights High's Ja'mie King goes back to school for BBC Three". British Broadcasting Corporation. 8 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  21. ^ Lewis, Maria (8 September 2013). "Chris Lilley reprises role of Ja'mie King in new series on ABC". Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  22. ^ "Nominees". 56th TV Week Logie Awards 2014. 27 April 2014. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  23. ^ Lilley, Chris (27 November 2013). "ChrisLilley: YES it's true. Jonah is back ..." Twitter. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  24. ^ BBC Media Centre (26 November 2013). "Chris Lilley's Jonah Takalua coming to BBC Three in 2014". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  25. ^ Raeburn, Steven (27 November 2013). "Chris Lilley confirms the return of Jonah as BBC leaks details first". The Drum. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  26. ^ Kalina, Paul (17 April 2014). "Chris Lilley's Jonah breaks rules with an online first for ABC". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  27. ^ "BBC Three to premiere entire series of Chris Lilley's Jonah From Tonga on BBC iPlayer". BBC. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  28. ^ "Jonah From Tonga: the modern minstrel show?". 23 April 2014 – via The Guardian.
  29. ^ a b "Tongan community branding Jonah From Tonga 'racist' and 'creepy'".
  30. ^ "Chris Lilley's Jonah From Tonga slammed as 'offensive'". 9 May 2014.
  31. ^ Rosenberg, Alyssa; Rosenberg, Alyssa (8 August 2014). "Why is HBO calling a brownface show, 'Jonah From Tonga,' groundbreaking?" – via
  32. ^ Gupta, Prachi. ""Jonah from Tonga": HBO forgets the first rule of brownface".
  33. ^ "The Brownface Controversy Surrounding "Jonah From Tonga"".
  34. ^
  35. ^ Meade, Amanda (2018-03-06). "Chris Lilley to make 10-part comedy series for Netflix". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  36. ^ Dmytryshchak, Goya (2017-07-29). "Chris Lilley condemned for reposting 'Squashed N***a' clip after Elijah Doughty verdict". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017-07-29.

External links[edit]