The first thing I like about Chris Lilley is his name. He’s not a Jimmy, or a Billy, or even a Barry. It’s not a diminutive, it’s a proper name, a grown-up name. The other thing, of course, is that he’s a wonderfully gifted comedian, actor and writer. He is outstandingly original and not really a comic at all. Thankfully, he doesn’t do stand-up. If I see someone doing stand-up, I immediately wish they’d sit down.
Some people will know of Chris, others won’t. I first came across him in Australia, where he is now very well known, but he’s had little airtime in the UK so far (a 12-part series he wrote and starred in called Angry Boys was shown on the BBC last year and the Little Britain team love him). His greatest success to date has been another series he wrote and acted in called Summer Heights High, filmed documentary-style, which has charmed a lot of people in Australia. He’s done masses of work since, to mixed acclaim; some of it has revealed the darker side of his nature — he’s totally unafraid of taboos and dives straight in, which I think is brilliant.
Chris lives in Melbourne but I imagine he’ll end up moving to either Britain or America — everyone wants to try to crack the US in the end. I shouldn’t admit this as the Australian people have been so good to me — but despite often providing the initial inspiration for writers like Chris, Australia burns people out. Sometimes their talent just disappears; it’s like the Bermuda Triangle. Wherever he ends up, I wish Chris well. I’m his number one fan.
Barry Humphries is about to embark on a new tour entitled Eat, Pray, Laugh, which he’s put out is being advertised as his ‘farewell’. If it goes down well down under, you can expect to see it in London later this year