I’m very hard to please when it comes to comedians. Most of the popular ones do my head in. They remind me of the types of people I had drama classes with in high school--attention hogs with little subtlety and no off switch. Yet Chris Lilley is different. I think I’d prefer to call him a funny actor, because his brand of comedy doesn’t rely on punch lines or constant “look at me” showiness, but instead on creating characters that are brutally believable.
Lilley has developed two shows in his native Australia--We Can Be Heroes in 2005 and Summer Heights High in 2007. Both are Office-style character-driven parodies with a real fly-on-the-wall “is this real?” feel to them. He’s as compassionate as he is unflinching towards his targets. From Pat the “professional roller” in Heroes to Jonah the troubled schoolboy in SHH, he crafts characters that we care about while laughing our asses off at all their foibles. Both series are among the funniest things I have seen in my life.
Summer Heights High is my favorite of the two, mostly because of Mr. G. A self-obsessed drama teacher who’s painfully unaware of his flamboyance and how he is perceived by the rest of the school, Greg Gregson (to use his full name) is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. For those who have seen the show, I urge you to check out the special edition DVD (unfortunately available only from Australia) for literally hours of deleted scenes that only serve to enhance the realism of the whole experience.
Lilley is developing a new show, his third, and I am waiting on pins and needles to see what he’ll come up with next. I’d love to see more of Mr. G and the hottest girl in year eleven, Ja'mie (like, seriously!), though I have faith in anything he comes up with. The man is a genius, and officially the funniest person on the planet.
A clip from We Can Be Heroes
A clip from Summer Heights High
Buy both DVDs here