Australian comedian Chris Lilley draws fire over controversial new 'blackface' character

Ben Arnold
Chris Lilley as Jana in Lunatics (Credit: Netflix)

Australian comedian Chris Lilley is under fire – again – for appearing to use blackface for a character in his new series for Netflix.

Lunatics is set to air on the streaming service, with Lilley unveiling the new characters yesterday, including an online vlogger, a fashion retailer and an estate agent who’s an aspiring DJ.

But the character drawing criticism is that of Jana, ‘a lesbian pet psychic to the stars’ from South Africa.

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In the promo material for the show, Lilley appears with dark skin and an afro wig.

Though there’s some suggestion online that it could be a riff on Rachel Dolezal, the civil rights activist who claimed to be a black woman despite having no African lineage whatsoever, Lilley has not yet commented on the growing furore.

“There is absolutely no way to justify blackface in 2019. F**k Chris Lilley, and f**k anyone who works with him,” added another Twitter user.

The online backlash is already pretty fierce, notably because Lilley’s past form in this area.

Lilley as S.Mouse in Angry Boys (Credit: ABC)

In his mockumentary series Summer Heights High, he was heavily criticised for his character Jonah Takalua, a Tongan teenager, for which he darkened his skin.

Worse still was his character S.mouse in his show Angry Boys, in which he blacked up to play an African American rapper.