You probably already saw this clip since it was everywhere yesterday, and I promise never to ever be on an airplane again* so that you do not have to suffer the indignity of seeing something posted a few hours later than it was posted on some other websites. But on the slight chance that you did not see this clip yesterday, you are about to see it, and for that I suppose I am also sorry. Because it’s a terrible clip! Harry Connick Jr. was a guest judge on an Australian variety show called Hey Hey It’s Saturday, and a group of doctors calling themselves the Jackson Jive came out and performed a horrifying blackface Michael Jackson tribute. Yikes. To make matters worse: the audience LOOOOOVES it. Fosters may be Australian for beer, but blackface is Australian for thing everyone loves so much apparently. Afterward, the host of the show, Daryl Somers, brought Harry Connick Jr. out to apologize. All of this after the jump.

Oh, Australia. With your Apocalyptic dust storms, prison colony roots, and fiercely guarded love of blackface. Probably the weirdest part of this whole thing is the apology. Because what is the host apologizing for? Offending Harry Connick Jr.? Yes. Finally, the long rift between the Australian variety show Hey Hey It’s Saturday and Harry Connick Jr. has been repaired! So many generations of people prayed that they would one day see Hey Hey It’s Saturday living in harmony with Harry Connick Jr. but so few expected to see it in their own life times. Amistad.

According to FabLife, the Australian public reaction has been that Harry Connick Jr. was being too politically correct. Which is hilarious. Because Harry Connick Jr. was not so much being too politically correct as he was being exactly the right amount of regular correct. Also known as “classic correct.” I mean, even if blackface has a longer history of racial insensitivity in the United States, it still seems pretty obvious why that would be offensive everywhere. Right? Am I just so entrenched in my American puritanism that I’m incapable of seeing how a bunch of white people painting their faces with shoe-polish and doing a choreographed monkey dance is just gentle comedy all in good fun? Back me up, Japan! Japan? (Via MovieLine.)

*I make no such promise! IT IS LIFE, AND I MUST JUMP INTO IT.

Comments (66)
  1. I’m surprised Crocodile Dundee puts up with this shit.

  2. Oh Harry Connick Jr., you can speak as a white American or a black American any time you want.

  3. On the plus side, it’s good to finally see the deleted scenes from Bamboozled finally go online.

  4. As an Aussie, I can say from experience that blackface really doesn’t have the same connotations here – it simply doesn’t have a history, and that’s why people who don’t understand it’s background might call it an overreaction. Their ignorance doesn’t make it any better though.

    • also, racism aside, there really was nothing funny about it at all.

    • Banjodark  |   Posted on Oct 8th, 2009 +13


      There was a large amount of blackface minstrel troupes and groups that performed around australia in the 1880s+ onwards. Some of these groups were even american performers who toured around here. The Apollo Hall was a famous minstrel venue.

      There’s no excuse. we have just as much of a history as America when it comes to these performances.

  5. What they really need to apologize is for that comic sans. Ugh, double up, ugh ugh.

  6. That’s not the sick part. The sick part is this show used to be on years ago, got taken off the air and has actually come back on Australian TV and this is exactly the kind of skits they had back in the 80s. I can’t believe my favourite website just merged with my least favourite television show and created vomit in my mouth.

  7. That is terrible. It’s not like race isn’t an issue there either, I guess this http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23206140-2,00.html
    was for nothing.

    Way to go Harry Connick Jr, though I hear your new album isn’t the greatest….

    Your Songs

  8. I think it might be gentle comedy all in good fun. Considering that minstrel shows, the dominate form which Americans associate with blackface, were primarily meant to ridicule black people in general and were a singularly American entertainment genre, it is natural that we are prone to interpret any use of blackface as offensive and insulting. It strikes me that in other cultures, even those as similar to ours as Australia, with it’s own racial issues, the use of blackface could be seen as merely a form of costume. Especially in the context of a specific parody of a known entertainment property like the Jackson Five. Certainly a part of the parody is racial, and it is indelicate to be sure, but to a less racially sensitive audience, there is no reason to assume it is more inherently offensive than any other broad stereotype-based comedy, including those we would be less likely to be outraged by. Just thinking out loud here.

    • Apologies for the typos. I’m using my phone which automatically completes some words and doesn’t always get them right. Also, I accidentally upvoted myself when trying to hit reply, so please reduce my comment’s perceived approval by one.

      • And please in no way should this be interpreted as a defense of the performance. Just because I’m not necessarily attributing it to racism does not mean I support it. I could never support anything so painfully unfunny.

  9. dan  |   Posted on Oct 8th, 2009 +9

    Firstly – this is terrible.
    Secondly – I’m pretty sure Australia doesn’t have the history of blackface that americans do. (as an Australian, I’m very sure… we did different terrible things to our indigenous popn and different things again to our immigrant population)
    Thirdly – That isn’t an excuse.
    Fourthly – Neither is the old “I’m Indian, so I can’t be racist” excuse.
    Fifthly – It was extremely offensive (not just to americans or HCJnr, who Daryl Summers directed that amazing apology to), but I’m hesitant to call it racist, as I’m reluctant to ascribe a motivation to the act (maybe I’m being too nice here)
    Sixthly – call it what you want, I think we should all pause to consider the number of brain-snaps required to get a cock-up of this magnitude onto the air
    Seventhly – Hey Hey makes Australia’s Funniest Home Videos look like Chekhov, so don’t judge us all by the people who watch it/defend blackface.
    Eighthly – there’s a reason this shit’s been off the air for 10 years
    Ninthly – THEY’RE DOCTORS! The guy in whiteface is a plastic surgeon.

    • dan  |   Posted on Oct 8th, 2009 +2

      Tenthly – did you see the bemused audience shot….. Not sure where the clapping was coming from..
      Eleventhly – Kamahl is a Malaysian/Australian crooner, so the dodgy arse cartoon isn’t very nice. Here’s an ad he did for vanilla coke http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1nRX_i4vEA He was unimpressed by the sketch.

  10. Scratch that, turns out the skit WAS the exact same one they had on 20 years ago. Same guys. Only this time they went up against Harry Connick Jr and the fact they’re all doctors now don’t mean nuthin to Harry.

  11. Banjodark  |   Posted on Oct 8th, 2009 +10

    as an australian, here’s what shits me off about all of this:

    1. the fact that the routine made it to air at all.
    2.Being disgusted at the ‘apology’, host Daryl Somers offered, which assumed that Australians wouldn’t be offended by a minstrel act on national television in 2009.
    3. And finally, the international media’s handling of the subject – making blanket statements and assumptions that the majority of Australians are racist and weren’t offended by the act rather than focusing on the real issue at hand – our archaic media institutions who actually thought this would be a good segment to go to air.

    I can only hope that this will result in HEY HEY ITS SATURDAY! not getting greenlit for a full series. because then I may have to expatriate.

    • I will join you in your hope of Hey Hey not going beyond the “reunion show” stage, and if the worst does happen, will get the boat and prepare us for expatriation back to …. I dunno anywhere but here…. you pick.

      • the worst thing is it’s been rating it’s anus off and has had huge outpourings of public support in the wake of this bullshit.. shut.. it.. down..

      • New Zealand? that seems to be our equivalent of ‘I’m moving to Canada!’

        as ashamed as I am that this embarrassment of a situation has reached the hallowed ground of Videogum, it has made me aware that there are more australians on here than i thought, we really are everywhere

  12. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, is there a guy who is paid to draw terrible jokes on bits of A4 and hold them up to a camera? This must be what “The Fifth Wheel” was like in the 1940s.

  13. Tosh.0 MY GOD!

  14. I’m sorry but enough of this excuse.
    “Larrikins were not the only Australians to be drawn to minstrelsy in the 1870s and 1880s. Minstrelsy’s combination of roisterous character-songs, sentimental ballads, comic sketches and hilarious burlesques appealed to diverse audiences in Australia–decidedly more diverse than in North America or England.”

    • dan  |   Posted on Oct 8th, 2009 +2

      Wow! I didn’t know that. It’s certainly not something that stayed in the popular consciousness in the same way as it did in the states.

  15. I’m sorry but enough of this excuse.
    “Larrikins were not the only Australians to be drawn to minstrelsy in the 1870s and 1880s. Minstrelsy’s combination of roisterous character-songs, sentimental ballads, comic sketches and hilarious burlesques appealed to diverse audiences in Australia–decidedly more diverse than in North America or England.”

  16. dan  |   Posted on Oct 8th, 2009 0

    From the performers:

    “e?re not so naive that we didn?t think it would be a little bit controversial to paint our faces black. We discussed it before the show.

    But to be honest, we thought that we didn?t get any complaints 20 years ago, and we didn?t get any complaints two months ago at the Med Revue, so we figured it was probably all in good fun.

  17. dan  |   Posted on Oct 8th, 2009 0

    From the performers:

    “e?re not so naive that we didn?t think it would be a little bit controversial to paint our faces black. We discussed it before the show.

    But to be honest, we thought that we didn?t get any complaints 20 years ago, and we didn?t get any complaints two months ago at the Med Revue, so we figured it was probably all in good fun.

  18. Hey Hey there definitely should be no more show.

    What TV producer gives this the ocular pat-down and clears it for passage?

  19. If this video teaches us anything it’s: If you are traveling to Australia and you are black… For Christ sake DO NOT GET SICK!

  20. Argh, this whole thing basically makes me want to curl up in a ball and die from embarrassment. I don’t think it’s entirely fair to say that public reaction has been totally “racist? whatever!”, because I know my reaction when I heard the next day was the correct one, namely “racist!”, same with my friends, but I do know from a lot of comments on websites that a lot of people disagree with me. I think there is some degree of truth to what the person who commented earlier said, that we don’t have as MUCH of a history with blackface as say America, but that’s a bullshit excuse regardless because no country exists in a vacuum, there is no way that this isn’t offensive just because certain things didn’t happen here. Plenty of other horrible things happened / continue to happen here, enough so that a MAJOR TV NETWORK should have known this wasn’t cool.

    The only other thing I will say is that it’s completely unfair to assume 20 million people all felt the same was about a really controversial thing, just for the sake of an easy joke.

    • so true, the minute i heard about this the day after (because no, i’m not the type of person who finds watching a lame reunion for a variety show that has never been funny or insightful entertaining) I knew it would end up around the globe which is just embarrassing.

      I found it distasteful, all my friends and family did too and no one with access to google can really argue the ‘we didn’t know’ defence. Just goes to show how many bogan idiots there are across the country these days which is kinda depressing

  21. Can we get SNL to do a skit with Honkeys dressed up like Aborigines? With big, broad, fake noses and didgereedoos? Eating kangaroos? Oh wait, SNL isn’t very funny since 1980. GABE CALL JENNY SLATE PRONTO. Like now. THE REBIRTH IS NOW.

    Also, I see you’ve played Knifey-Spoony before, Australia.

  22. If this site were Australia, would Tosh.0 be a troupe of blackface performers? If so, can I be Harry Connick, Jr.? And can we pretend this analogy isn’t somehow fundamentally flawed? Because I know there’s a point in here somewhere.

  23. i wrote about this yesterday in my blog. i’m australian living in america for a few months, and this was just embarrassing. i honestly can’t believe how it was allowed to happen!

  24. aside from the casual racism, the most offensive thing about this video is that they appear to be using the set from the Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

  25. another australian am i..

    another vote for the worst..

    honestly i can’t believe anyone is using the whole “we don’t have a history of blackface” bullshit as an excuse for this.. regardless of our own shitty history with our black indigenous populace you don’t have to have personally engaged in something yourself previously to know it’s probably going to be pretty fucking offensive to someone else.. i think putting on blackface and acting like a moron kind of ticks all the boxes..

    sorry world.. i did not think we were that bad as a nation but apparently we’re out to prove me wrong

  26. I have to say, other countries just don’t understand how this plays with Americans. I would think Australians would be a little more aware since they have the whole thing with their aboriginal folks but hey.

    When I lived in Czech Republic I saw a guy in black face singing as Louis Armstrong in the main square in the middle of town for a big international folk festival. I was mortified and started looking around for black people getting ready to riot. But there aren’t any black people in Czech Republic. They don’t mean anything by it and they don’t see what the big deal is. My friends thought I was being weird when I kept saying how wrong it was.

  27. i kinda wish the term “politically correct” never existed because it just gives ignorant folks an excuse to point fingers at a person who is trying to respect another person’s cultural differences. it’s really easy to say that someone is being “too politically correct” when you’re not part or close to the group of people that’s the butt of everyone’s jokes.

  28. In a town in northern England, not so far from where i grew, up there’s a troupe of ‘morris dancers’ that use to use black face. They’ve done it since the heavy mining times hundreds of years ago. This might explain it a little you might think. Though. They’re called ‘The Britania Coco-nutters’. I kid you not.

  29. it wasn’t racist until the host called them ‘boys’

  30. Wait, I just got to the end: they’re all doctors? They should have called themselves the Huxtable Jive and then it wouldn’t be racist anymore. (I think that’s correct)

  31. In an age were information is shared all over and one can simply wiki black face and learn that it is offensive I call bs on not knowing it would offend any one.

  32. ZimZamson  |   Posted on Oct 9th, 2009 0

    Banjodark 10:07am – totally with you.

    I’m Australian and I am cringing from embarrassment about this. That as far as the rest of the world is concerned we all appreciate a blackface musical number on primetime TV in 2009.

    It was in bad taste and it was racist. Here is the quickest way to tell why – because people are offended by it. It is a shocking display of how out-of-touch either network execs are in Australia to think it makes for good viewing, or the shameful state of the Australian general public to prove those same execs right based on the shows popularity. Either way I am astounded and disappointed by it.

  33. Liz  |   Posted on Oct 9th, 2009 0

    This was a lame skit from an equally lame show, its the equivalent to Jay Leno making a joke about our Aboriginal stolen generation:-
    1. it would piss off a lot of Australians
    2. it would mean little to none to Americans
    3. Americans would get pissed off that Australians thought they were insensitive assholes because of Jay Leno’s gaping mouth.

    So in summary how about we just get over it? Shit happens and theres wankers in every country. FIN.

  34. I haven’t really been following this because, well, ugh. Ever since Sommers started his insane mutterings about how the nation NEEDS “Hey Hey” back, I’ve been living in a perpetual state of ugh. “Hey Hey” was never the good timey wholesome pure hearted beacon of family entertainment that Sommers has retrospectively been trying to cast it as. It was crude, racist, sexist and homophobic 20 years ago and I guess nothing much has changed. I’m guessing because nothing could entice me to actually watch either of the specials. But anyway, where is the baying for blood a la the furore over The Chaser’s Make a Realistic Wish sketch? Is this the lesson we are actually taking away from this? Black humour doesn’t fly but blackface does? Oh man, I fear for the fate of Saffran’s new show.

  35. Australia  |   Posted on Oct 9th, 2009 +1

    I’m so fucking embarrassed right now.

  36. Did I miss something regarding HCJr’s voice??? Why is he talking like that????

  37. Rhonda Thomas  |   Posted on Oct 10th, 2009 0

    I am offended by this. Will any Americans apologise for it?

    “Now just throw your hands in the motherfuckin air
    And wave the motherfuckers like ya just don’t care
    Yeah roll up the dank, and pour the drank
    And watch your step (why?) cuz Doggy’s on the gank
    My bank roll’s on swoll
    My shit’s on hit, legit, now I’m on parole, stroll
    with the Dogg Pound right behind me
    and up in yo bitch, is where ya might find me
    Layin that, playin that G Thang
    She want the nigga with the biggest nuts, and guess what?
    He is I, and I am him, slim with the tilted brim
    What’s my motherfuckin name?”

  38. Henry  |   Posted on Oct 11th, 2009 -1

    Oh America, land of the culturally superior and politically correct! Thank goodness your most sparkling orator, a mouthpiece for a nation of equality and social justice, chastised those backward Australian mannerisms. Thank you Gabe, your insightful nationalist diatribe has penetrated the facade of puerile humour to locate the true problem here: Australians. It is only right that a representative for a nation with such discreet international policies and peaceful ambitions should be appalled by the barbarism displayed by these reckless displays of liberty and corporatism.


  40. Nothing New  |   Posted on Oct 12th, 2009 0

    Well, if anything it pokes fun at white people for not having the ability to “move” and “dance.”

    HCRjr, has class that is for sure…but we need to lighten up. geez

  41. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vtOt5mNEZE
    Harry Conick Jr in blackface

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