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Angry Boys' Chris Lilley Interview After London Bus Tour

by Emma Cowles. Published Mon 28 May 2012 19:34, last updated: 29/05/12

Unlike many celebrities, Chris Lilley is a comic that likes to give back to his fans, and this month the Aussie funny man arrived in London to act as bus conductor and tour guide on a number of ‘personalised’ bus escapades around the Big Smoke.

It was shorts and surf-board weather in London when Lilley pulled up to Trafalgar Square hanging out of an iconic red double decker bus, comically gesturing to the crowd in typical fashion and waving his middle finger around ‘Nathan style’.

The event consisted of a number of jaunts about London town in what was a modern day, swashbuckling ‘treasure hunt’ adventure, all of which had been organised on the social networking site, Twitter.

Chris spent the week hiding copies of his much loved ‘Angry Boys Soundtrack’ in various comical places around the city, then Tweeted a cryptic clue for anticipating fans – “on your marks, get set, go!”.

Having brought us the hit mockumentary series like ‘We Can Be Heroes’, ‘Summer Heights High’ and ‘Angry Boys’, Lilley is still riding high after his sell out ‘S.mouse’ mock-concert at the o2 Academy last year.

No other comedian from down under is waving the flag for Aussie humour like him just now, and with his absurd characterisations he is pushing the boundaries of taboo.

Lilley was in fine fettle as Purple Revolver pulled him to one side and chatted on the top deck of the tour bus. Here is what he had to say:

Hi Chris, thanks so much for chatting to us today!

No no, thank you!

Right, first things first - did you always know you wanted to be a performer?

Yea, I’ve always loved dressing up and playing other characters. When I was eight there were two younger American kids across the street that I hung out with, and I started fibbing that that I had an American cousin. I’d say, 'oh she’s at home'. Then I’d go home, put on this ridiculous wig and my mum’s big high heels, and come back over pretending to be her. It was totally ridiculous but they completely believed it! I thought it was the most genius thing. But then my mum came over and she got really pissed off…she was like, “you’re gona’ get a name for yourself!”

And that you did! It worked out well in the end. So were you always headed down the comedy route?

I always wanted to do it, but had that moment where I finished school and my parents were pushing me to do something sensible, so I went to uni to train as a teacher. But I was doing stand up comedy too, so I was kind of pretending to study. I didn’t like teaching at all. I liked the kids, but the whole ‘staff’ thing was a bit dull…

So ‘Mr G’ has some kind of relevance to your life then?

Yea, definitely! When I was teaching they made me do a dance class. I just laughed and asked if they had any of those stretchy lycra body bag things… Then I created this ridiculous performance where I played a ‘Daft Punk’ song and the kids grew out of these weird trees. It was pathetically absurd but it got hailed as the most ingenious thing anyone had ever done!

Haha! And you were doing it as a 'serious’ production?

To be honest I was just trying to kill time! I wasn't putting that much effort into it. Then I realised that school wasn’t the place for me.

So when would you say was your big break?

Well, I actually started to do the characters on stage during stand up performances - ‘Mr G’ was a central character. Then I made a short film of him to send to a TV network. I broke into a school playground and my mate shot me walking around in character, wearing one of my mum’s tracksuits. It was really low budget! But the network loved it and offered to pay me to do a series, so it went from there.

And do you find it hard to get into character?

Yea, it’s not something I do spontaneously. I put a lot of thought into the script writing. It can be improvised as well but I do have to be in that ‘mode’.

How do you get the characterisations so spot on? With ‘Ja’mie’ for example, did you follow school girls around and observe their behaviour?

Yea, I did follow girls around! *laughs* I mean it was arranged, but I went into private schools. Also I’d ring up the girls who played Ja’mie’s friends, and have long conversations with them about girly stuff. The characters take a while to get into. It’s the costume, the environment, the people that you’re around and it’s a matter of settling into it.

Of all the characters you’ve created, who are you most proud of?

Probably ‘S.mouse’, the rapper in Angry Boys. It was a really scary idea to take myself out of my comfort zone, and I had to produce all the music myself as well as perform in front of people.

Wow, it’s interesting because the music you write could actually be in the charts at the moment…is it a semi critique on rubbish chart music?

It is, and the funny thing for me is that when we shot ‘Angry Boys’, some of the boys in the prison listened to ‘S.mouse’ and thought it was really great. They kept asking, “who is this guy?!” They didn’t get that it was a piss-take at all. I wanted to do that crappy, Southern rap thing, like Soulja Boy. That really cheap sort of music that kids are into.

We’ll be watching out for your collaboration with Jay Z next! So music is a passion of yours?

Definitely, when I left school I actually wanted to be a pop star! I used to play around all the pubs. I played the keyboard, and did this weird electronic stuff. But it was all very serious, so then I decided that comedy was much more interesting.

After the success of ‘Summer Heights High’ did you feel the pressure to create something just as amazing with ‘Angry Boys’?

Yea, I mean I could have easily done ‘Summer Heights High 2’, but I wanted to do something on a really big scale, where I pushed the boundaries further. I also wanted to make sure I had fun whilst doing it – I think that translates on screen, if people can tell you’re loving it.

Although it’s a comedy, some of your characters can get quite emotional and it’s genuinely moving! Do you intentionally lean towards more drama than comedy at times?

Well it seemed to happen a lot in ‘Angry Boys’, I was surprised at how dramatic it went. I just write instinctively, but obviously part of me wanted to head towards drama. It quite often turns out more dramatic than it is on paper. I wanted to turn it up a notch from ‘Summer Heights High’. But it’s just the biggest compliment when people say they’ve cried during the shows. If you can have people laughing one minute and crying the next, it’s just the best! It’s great to know people get that emotional over what I do.

And lastly…what can we expect from you next?

Well I really love writing in this style, and I don’t want to stop. But, I also love the idea of progressing further. I’ve already written something new that I’m just putting the finishing touches on, then we’ve got to shoot and edit it, so it will be a little while. I want to get straight into it cos’ I love it so much. It will be similar, and funny!

We don’t doubt that for a second. Thanks for chatting to us Chris!

My pleasure.

END.

Who said don’t meet your idols? It will only leave you disappointed? Chris is the exception to this rule and surpasses all expectations in the flesh.

You can’t help but be taken in by his enchanting charisma and quiet positivity, he’s a true star onscreen and off.

His zest for life is infectious, and his sense of fun certainly permeated through this interactive London tour which was soundtracked with witty banter and anecdotes throughout.

Contradictory to his on screen ego ‘S.mouse’, Chris remains remarkably humble amidst his fame and fortune.

Polite, down to earth, and possibly the funniest man TV’s seen in a long time, he’s just what the stale comedy scene in Britain needed today.

We have pencilled his return in our diary for next year – and we are counting down the days!



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"I hope Chris brings back Jen Okazaki. She's so hilariously mean! I want to see what happens with Luke, her soon-to-be golf superstar!" Lol, Denmark around 1 year, 9 months ago

"Chris Lilley is true raw AMAZING talent and my kids and I enjoy watching all his series, he is a remarkable man." Tracey Balzan, Jervis Bay around 2 years, 2 months ago