US college kids see the real Chris Lilley

05 December, 2013 by Don Groves

Chris Lilley at the USC Berkeley Q&A


Critics in Australia, the US and elsewhere who think Chris Lilley pays attention to their reviews, good, bad or indifferent, are misguided.

The creator of We Can Be Heroes, Summer Heights High, Angry Boys and Ja'mie: Private School Girl doesn’t read reviews, according to his producing partner, Princess Pictures’ Laura Waters.

Waters doesn’t read reviews either, as a rule, although she was aware of the UK blogger who bagged Summer Heights High because the Australian media aired his carping comments. “You get a tonne of great reviews and someone finds a nasty one,” she says. “We both made the choice not to read reviews; it’s healthier.”

The actor/writer/producer may have a reputation as a very private person but he revealed a lot of himself in the US last month. Lilley and Waters spent a few weeks touring the college circuit in the lead-up to the premiere of Ja'mie: Private School Girl on HBO and were overwhelmed by the responses.

Chris did Q&As and hosted screenings of the show at University of California, Berkeley, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, the George Washington University in Washington D.C., and HBO arranged a screening for New York University students.

“Hundreds of people were turned away; it was surreal, crazy,” Waters tells IF. “One middle-aged father came up to us and said his sons aged 11 and 12 run around the house singing Black Balls (Lilley’s song in the guise of African-American rapper S.mouse in Angry Boys). Chris was his normal self: he really opened up to the audiences. After the tour we told HBO we want to do it again.”

Lilley is now editing Jonah (working title), the six-part series which follows the further adventures of the bored Tongan teenage delinquent who was expelled from the concrete playgrounds of Summer Heights High.

Jonah’s father Rocky Takalua sent him back to Tonga to live with his uncle and their family in hopes that he will get his life back on track. But life is still not cool for Jonah and his Poly-posse, who continue to swear, tell tall tales and tag ‘Dicktation’ all over the school grounds.

The series is co-produced by Lilley, Princess Pictures, HBO and the ABC, with BBC3 aboard again. Waters says she pitched Summer Heights High to HBO executives, who passed initially but changed their minds. She’s delighted to have the support of the three broadcasters, noting, “They could not be better creative partners.

Lilley seems to have a penchant for privacy but Waters says, “He’s a normal, honest person He’s not interested in the business of being a celebrity.”








  • Sandra

    What a great talent! Can’t take my eyes of this guy!

  • Notna

    I am a 58 year old male Christian, the father of eight kids and I don’t like swearing. Having said that, I quite like Chris Lilley. I get his take on modern life. I realise what he portrays is a bit exaggerate, but he is taking the ‘piss’ out of the characters he portrays. In Jonah he shows both sides to this obnoxious, funny and vulnerable kid. With Ja’mie, he shows her self absorbed, empty narcissism. Although Ja’mie wasn’t my favourite show, I was quite moved by the plight of her mother, the long suffering wife the obnoxious Afrikaans capitalist (that is quite a loaded imagery in Australia, as these rich white South Afrikaans are migrating in large numbers to Australia and many of them like to criticise Australians and they are bossy). Lilley is great with the unspoken story. At the surface, the spoken word is crass, homophobic (he’s not really anti gay), racist (he’s not racist), and puerile. However, at a deeper level, as in the case of Ja’mie’s parents, there’s this unspoken story of the new rich Afrikaans immigrants with these bratty, spoilt children: contrast this to the other, poorer, African portrayed, Kwami. The white ‘King’ exploits the poor black in every paternalistic and patronising way; Ja’mie, the Christian missionary/ sexploiter (sic). Just a few thoughts.

  • Jonah Takalua

    Good to be home, toko. Tonga wuz ok, a bit sh** but. Girls were easy az, only too many rellos askin 4 money, ay? 2014, we gonna show those palangi kotas on Oz TV how it’s done bro! TONGAN POWER 4 LYF MTFKZ!!! J.T.

  • Jay

    I’m 23 from PHX, AZ and a christian as well that doesn’t use vulgar language but I have to say that Chris Lilley is a comedic and musical genius. I first heard about angry boys and how he plays different characters I was skeptical about it but after the first episode i completely fell in love with it. He portrays various stereotypes characters in a way that the audience actually can connect with and care about. My favorite being S.Mouse! I literally watched it all including the live stuff and I can’t get enough! Come slap your elbows in AZ!

  • Holly Young

    I found Angry Boy’s by accident one night when I was bored, I fell in love with it. I am a Christian, and I can’t stop watching it , over, and over again. I know he is just acting with the song black balls, and all of the other vulgar gestures, but Chris Lilley is a genious !!!!!! I would LOVE to meet him. He reminds me of a younger Larry David, also one of my favorites. I hope Chris keeps making shows. my favorite character was, Ja’ime, and Jen , and Pat. Love them. If you read this Chris, I love you !!!!!!!!!!