Harry Connick Jr.'s Mad TV Sketch: Blackface or Blackface-Adjacent?


Since we broke the news Stateside yesterday morning of Harry Connick Jr. being bamboozled on Australian TV by the Jackson Jive -- a Jackson parody act consisting of white men in Afros and black painted faces -- it's gone on to dominate headlines in Australia and abroad. It sparked another heated culture war right here on our own doorstep, too, with much sparring and name-calling lobbed about in our comments sections between the Jive apologists -- a very vocal minority who live in a colorblind utopia, where the application of black shoe polish to one's face is simply a testament to one's deep commitment to craft -- and the outraged, with some highly educational lessons about Australian history sprinkled in along the way.

Bolstering the apologists' cause was an unearthed sketch from a 1996 episode of Mad TV in which Harry impersonates a Southern preacher. Whether his skin tone was darkened for the sketch is open for debate, though the wig certainly suggests the kind of hair Chris Rock would like to corner for an interview. His pronunciation of the word "Christmas" as "Chrimmuh" certainly doesn't help matters, either.

The clip has quickly spread across continents as proof of Connick's hypocrisy, and the singer and actor defended it as such: "Those of you who have seen my shows or seen me in several comedic skits on TV know that I have absolutely no problem with comedic send-ups or making fun of myself or others."

· Harry Connick, Jr. on MadTV - Preachers Skit [YouTube]

· Previously: Harry Connick Jr. Clashes with Blackface Jackson Family on Aussie TV [Movieline]


  • AA says:

    I do wonder how many non-Australians that are commenting here actively consider the feelings of other countries before their own. In this example, the assumption is that the history of America and its issues / conflicts with African Americans is something that Australians should be constantly sensitive to and therefore avoid anything that may be deemed incendary to Americans. Australians are very sensitive to cultural conflicts and are focussed on resolving our own issues with addressing past conflicts and current needs for our native aboriginees. To make the comparison, I'm not certain that non-Australians would necessarily avoid using stereotypes representing the Australian aboriginees other than representing them as uncultured desert dwellers as tends to be the way they are shown in many overseas movies. We have many with aboriginal background that have reached international acclaim in art, sciences and sport, for example. We hold these individuals high to show that although we are not perfect, we are trying to do better and to promote all that is good within all of us from all backgrounds. I think that the uproar that is being shown about a group intending to perform only to an Australian audience, but now unavoidable playing out across the world, should be a reminder for all that for all of us that we need to look within ourselves to our own conflicts and be sensitive to all conflicts of the world and not only those that are in our own backyard, no matter which country we come from.

  • Anonniesmaus says:

    There's no comparison. Connick was not being derisive of Black preachers. They DO give stirring, theatrical sermons intended to keep you alert so you stay awake and hear the message and he was making a satirical point about the commercialization of Christian holidays while hawking his own Christmas CD. Get it? The Jackson Jive skit was condescending, disrespectful, lacked substance and also lacked any preface that it began 20 years ago when we all were much more stupid than we should be now!

  • ankhesenapaaten says:

    If you want to see something great from australia watch this video....zorba the greek yolngu style... Its great

  • Tamara says:

    Update: Connick posted this statement on his website regarding the "MADtv" sketch:
    "There is a 1996 MadTV clip of a spoof featuring a black Baptist minister named Rev. LaMonte Nixon Fatback and a white southern evangelical preacher with a pompadour named Dr. Michael Kassick. Some people seem to be confused about which actor is playing which character. For the record, the actor playing Rev. LaMonte Nixon Fatback is Orlando Jones and the actor playing Dr. Michael Kassick is Harry Connick Jr."
    The skit was rude and offensive and harry did the right thing!! Kudos to him!

  • osvaldo says:

    My point is: we see what we want to see. What I watched that night was a group of migrant kids, who, 20 years later have become all professionals. They represent was this country is about it. Have you read any Anglo Australians saying “they are not Australians, they are migrants, don’t blames us”. No. We are defending them for who they are: Australians. What you watched was offensive for you, fair enough, and our apologies. What is not right it is some Americans blaming a hall country of been racist. I watched the program with my Anglo Australian partner, our 16yo son and his English girlfriend, and 2 of his best mates a boy from China and a boy from Turkey, and my best friend a girl from Ethiopia. We are ethnic, We are Australian. This is the real Australia, I am living it each day, and I love it.

  • Isabel says:

    From Ted | Reply
    Posted 08 Oct 2009, 2:17 PM
    Harry was in a skit with an african american in the other skit where as the australian group was all white and painted their faces jet black. The jackson jive skit was really offensive.
    no, they were not white, they were brown and of Indian descent! The Jackson Jive skit may have been offensive to Americans but it's target Audience was Australia, who didn't find anything offensive about it.

  • David says:

    Is there a single black American who is NOT offended by harry's comment?
    "In response Connick said: "We've spent so much time trying to not make black people look like buffoons, that when we see something like that, we take it really to heart ... If I knew that would be part of the show, I probably, I definitely wouldn't have done it.""
    Do they really need some lame white nit-wit to make them not look like buffoons?

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