Anyone who has watched Summer Heights High will remember Jonah Takalua (Chris Lilley) from the show and being a person who has watched Summer Heights High and then last year’s Ja’mie Private School Girl I wondered if a show will ever be made with just Jonah in it or not. Well for all those who have been waiting for that show, they can smile in relief because that show has been made and it’s called Jonah From Tonga.
Jonah From Tonga is a six episode comedy starring Chris Lilley as Jonah and is also written by Chris Lilley as well. Over the course of the six episode saga you get quite a lot of comedy and also quite a bit of drama as well, which mixed really well together to make it an enjoyable season of television to watch.
Jonah from Tonga follows Jonah (Chris Lilley) who is this mischievous 14 year old kid in year 9 who causes nothing but trouble for his family, his teachers, his counselor and occasionally his friends. Jonah is sort of a bully in the school and spends a lot of time picking on smaller kids especially the ones who are “ranga’s”. But even though Jonah is a bully his character is actually very interesting to watch over the 6 episodes. I don’t really want to talk about too much about what he gets up to because I don’t really want to spoil the show, but his mischievous ways do get Jonah in a lot of trouble. Yet when he’s in trouble you sort of feel for his character and throughout the season you notice that actually Jonah has a lot of insecurities about himself and there a lot of characters that try to help him a long the way such as Mr. Joseph (Doug Bowles) his high school teacher, Kool Kris (Uli Latukefu) his councilor and even at times his family members as well.
The show is primarily a comedy at heart and there isn’t really much drama for Jonah until episode 3 where it picks up and you really start to relate not only to Jonah but a lot of the characters around him. It’s this dramatic element of the show that for me made it incredibly enjoyable to watch. The jokes are great to keep things funny as well and my favourite moments when watching Jonah from Tonga were the interactions between Jonah and his teacher Mr. Joseph. Every time I watch one of Chris Lilley’s shows there’s always that one character that makes me laugh every time no matter what they are doing and in show it was Mr. Joseph (Doug Bowles) who was super funny. But so too was Kool Kris (Uli Latukefu) and Jonah’s friends (Tama Tauali’i, Jason Moleli, Lafaele Tauali’i, Tana Laasia). If you’ve seen the Jonah character before then you know what to expect, Chris Lilley’s Jonah is incredibly funny and also well acted.
In speaking of the acting in the show everyone was really good for what it is, everyone seemed to me to be believably real and well cast in the show. I liked Chris Lilley’s performance a lot as Jonah, I could believe that someone like Jonah could exist in the world. Considering also that Chris Lilley also wrote all the episodes I guess that helps a lot of deliver a lot of the jokes, I sometimes wondered how much of the show was scripted and if any of the parts were improvised as a lot of the jokes look rather natural in the show. Doug Bowles’ performance as Mr. Joseph was a very entertaining to watch as well. Mr. Joseph was such crazy teacher! My favourite thing Mr. Joseph did was when he smashed up the chair on the wall of the classroom to make everyone be quiet. Uli Latukefu was good as well and had some funny bits, although his character was more there for drama but still pretty funny. All of the rest of the actors were entertaining to watch. Jonah From Tonga is a show I think you aren’t meant to take so seriously and really only go in to watch it for fun and if you’re doing that then you’ll likely enjoy all the performances, they are all there to make you laugh at the end of the day and they made me laugh quite a lot.
In terms of the writing of this show in comparison to last year’s Ja’mie Private School Girl I quite liked Jonah From Tonga, it was much better. I felt that over the 6 episodes the story started strongly and established the Jonah character well enough for people who might not know who he was to have him figured out by the first episode. Then episode two was very comedic focused and had quite a lot of jokes in there which continued onto episode three which added quite a bit of drama and then we get carried through to the ending. I also felt that Jonah From Tonga ended in a much better way to Ja’mie Private School Girl and I found that I did relate to these characters a lot more in this season than in the last one. I also felt that the school setting was more relatable for me because actually there were people in my school like Jonah and his friends and it reminded of what school was like back in those days. Chris Lilley has really done well in portraying the high school environment in a very smart and very comedic way, as he did in Summer Heights High. I think because the environment that the characters are in is so similar to what school is sort of like in many places, that it’s this that makes the Chris Lilley show so enjoyable and many people can easily relate to the content in Jonah From Tonga. It’s a difficult thing to get the tone of familiarity right I think, but in getting it right it really helps to make the show funny, I couldn’t stop laughing in some parts.
Overall I really enjoyed watching all six episodes of Jonah From Tonga. I feel that that show for me was incredibly funny and the tone of the show was just right which helped to add a lot to the humour elements. The characterisation of Jonah was also very well done and I found him to be an interesting character to both laugh at and observe throughout all the episodes. Chris Lilley and the rest of the cast have done well with their depiction of high school life and have really made a very entertaining, well written dramatic comedy experience. I watched all the episodes one after another and didn’t get bored, it was a great show to binge on and being only 6 episodes, you can watch it during the weekend and still have have a lot of time to spare. If you can enjoy the humour of Jonah From Tonga then it’s definitely going to be a fun experience. I look forward to seeing what Chris Lilley comes up with next because Jonah From Tonga was hilarious.
Episode 1 of Jonah From Tonga will be shown on Wednesday the 7th of May at 9PM on ABC1