Chris Lilley is bringing our favorite Summer Heights High character back with Ja'mie: Private School Girl. This time, she's left public school and back on her old stomping grounds, Hillford Girls Grammar School, where the lawns are more manicured and the trash bins are less random. We love Ja'mie for her brutal honesty, her words of wisdom, and her tireless goal of helping others. She's such a strong character that sometimes we forget that she's played by Australian actor Chris Lilley, who makes playing a schoolgirl look so natural and believable. We tip our hats to Mr. Lilley for creating one of the best female characters played by a man in comedy history. To celebrate Ja'mie's triumphant return, we're taking a look back at the best cross-dressing moments in comedy. (And of course, a feathered hat must be tipped to Eddie Izzard, one of the few real-life out transvestites in comedy.)
Dustin Hoffman's gender-bending role as Miss Dorothy Michaels is one of his most memorable. Out-of-work actor Michael Dorsey (Hoffman) dresses up as Dorothy and auditions for a female part on a popular soap opera. He lands the part and becomes a famous actress, but soon faces complications with his new identity, as he falls in love with his costar Julie and is courted by Julie's father. Tootsie earned 10 Oscar nominations, one of which was won by Jessica Lange as Julie, and the American Film Institute ranked it as the second funniest film of all time.
The Kids in the Hall (1988-1994)
The boys of The Kids in the Hall made playing girls a regular thing on TV. In fact, playing women was one of their trademarks, but they weren't in drag, they were just playing regular women. They made cross-dressing and playing the opposite sex seem normal, natural, and comfortable, paving the way for characters like Ja'mie. Two of our favorite characters are secretaries Cathy and Kathie, whose sketches often feature all five of the members playing women.
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Robin Williams was born to play Mrs. Doubtfire. After his character, Daniel, loses custody of his kids in his divorce, he finds a way to stay in their lives by applying to be their housekeeper. With the help of his makeup artist brother, he transforms into hefty Scottish matriarch Mrs. Doubtfire. His family has no idea that Mrs. Doubtfire is actually Daniel, and he is able to fully take on the role of their housekeeper, learning to be a better parent to his kids along the way.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Terence Stamp, known for playing villains and intimidating types, steps out of his comfort zone and into gorgeous gowns as Bernadette in this critically acclaimed Australian comedy. His stage partners are played by equally unlikely actors, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce. The trio travel in a purple school bus named Priscilla through the Australian outback to reach their gig in Alice Springs. They encounter many interesting characters along the way, and Bernadette questions her path in life.
To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)
Coming off the success of Priscilla, To Wong Foo is a similar twist on the buddy-movie genre. Three professional drag queens, Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze), Noxeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes), and Chi Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo) take a road trip from New York to LA and get into several mini adventures in the small towns along the way. In their encounters, the three ladies teach the townspeople valuable life lessons on self-confidence, chivalry, and love.
The Birdcage (1996)
This remake of the Franco-Italian classic La Cage aux Folles stars Robin Williams as Armand, the owner of a South Beach drag club, and Nathan Lane as Armand's domestic partner and star drag queen. When Armand's son, Val, gets engaged to Barbara, whose father is an ultraconservative Republican senator, Armand must create the illusion that he is a straight man when he invites Barbara's parents over for dinner. The ruse gets complicated — but hilarious — when Albert (Lane) uses his talents for cross-dressing and pretends to be Albert's wife.
Sorority Boys (2002)
It's definitely not the most eloquent example of cross-dressing in cinema, but Sorority Boys is proof that the tactic can been used in any genre, even teen sex comedies. Three mysgonistic playboys are accused of embezzlement and get kicked out of their frat, and their only option to stay on campus rent-free is by dressing up like women and joining the sorority Delta Omicron Gamma (D.O.G.). Not the best message, but their past mistreatment of women does come back to bite them in the ass, and they learn a few lessons in the process.
White Chicks (2004)
In this movie, not only do Shawn and Marlon Wayans have to become a different sex, but also a different race. The premise is ridiculous, but that's part of the film's appeal. Brothers and FBI agents Marcus (Marlon) and Kevin (Shawn) Copeland must pretend to be socialite sisters Brittany and Tiffany Wilson (this was when the Hilton sisters were still relevant) in order to catch a serial kidnapper. The movie might not go down in film history, but pop culturalists will forever be haunted by those faces.
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S10E9: Holy over-the-top drama. Last night was a long episode. Granted, group week is usually my favorite because it’s when everyone’s crazy starts to come out, and boy did it ever. The folks at Idol flipped the usual group week antics upside down. When students of the show got ahead of the game by forming groups during the first round of auditions, dreaming up routines and practicing whenever they could, the judges announced that this year the rules had changed. Every group would have to be part Day 1 contestants and Part Day 2 and they’d have to choose songs from a pre-set list. Well crap. Of course, tears and pandemonium ensued – as well as some serious heartlessness. Here’s a tip Idol hopefuls: you aren’t going to win the hearts of American voters if you kick a 15 year old sweetheart out of your group at midnight.
After nearly an hour of set-up, watching the groups flounder to get members, and subsequently fight for space to rehearse, the judges were finally ready to begin the judging. And away we go.
“He came out gangbusters…I think they all went off.” – Steven
Right out of the gate, the groups were shaping up to be pretty good. First up was a trio made up of Pia Toscano, Alessandra Guercio and Brielle Von Hugel singing “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. The New York natives did an adequate rendition of the song and fulfilled the choreography requirement by pretending they were in a Destiny’s Child video from 1999, but that was enough and they all made it through.
Then came the first sign of trouble after all the pre-audition drama. Jordan Dorsey, who will likely not be getting many votes after this display, ditched his group, 440, after playing prima donna all day and telling every potential new member they weren’t good enough. His new group, who changed their name to 4+1 in honor of the recent addition, also featured audience favorite Robbie Rosen and did an nice version of the Jackson 5’s “ABC” that allowed them to make it to the next round. (And even though Rosen aligned himself with the Jordan bozo, I’m still hoping he sticks around.)
Next, of course, because Idol loves the drama, was Jordan’s abandoned group 440 singing the song also known as “Fuck You.” (Take that TV sensors.) Because Idol cuts up the songs so we only see the faces they’re interested in, we saw both Adrian Michaels and Lauren Turner belt it out despite their frustrations due to the wrench Jordan’s decision threw into their routine. They were able to hold their heads high afterward because after a dramatic display of making them each step forward one by one, they all made it through.
“Oh you guys. I’m so scared of this group.” –JLo
Oh, Tiffany Rios, you nutcase. After searching tirelessly for someone, ANYONE to join her group, Tiffany had scored Jessica Yantz as her partner in crime, but no matter how hard they tried (including serenading the unwilling listeners in the auditorium) they couldn’t find a third person to meet the requirements. So they performed a duet and it was horrific. I didn’t know that “Irreplaceable” could sound so much like a horror movie. Then again, I didn’t think she’d make it past the first audition back in New Jersey, so what do I know? Buh-bye, ladies.
From “Irreplaceable” to irresponsible we go as Kevin Campos completely screws his group, Spanglish, by sleeping in until noon. Ass. The good thing about this little screw-up is that it gives Steven a chance to play the drums to pass the time while everyone waits for Kevin to get his act together. (Did anyone else think he looked like Animal from Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem?) When the group finally got up there, Jovany Barreto, Jorge Gabriel and Karen Rodriguez were obviously shaken up by their teammate's dumbassery, but only Jovany and Karen managed to continue on after Steven accidentally told them they’d all make it (and after their onstage celebration made their rejected teammates cry even more). Yikes.
“You fell off the melody…” –Steven
“And forgot all the words.” –JLo
Well, you can’t argue with that; and things continued to underwhelm the judges. Lauren Alaina and her group tried something a little different: they brought Steven up onstage and sang directly to him, even getting him to sing along with them at the end. It was pretty cute. Unfortunately for everyone but Alaina, the judges were impressed with the creativity, but not the vocals. Yeah, you know that little thing that the whole competition is based on. At least Lauren’s teammates were sweet about it.
Then things started to get really, really ugly. The “Nashville Stars” featured crowd favorite Matt Dillard as well as Colton Dixon, but by the time they were done singing the judges were holding their heads in frustration it was so bad. Colton managed to hold his own amongst the muck and walked away as the only one to continue on. This bad streak continued (so brace yourself) with a string of our favorites going off key and piercing ear drums left and right. Shannon Livewell, Brianna Tyson, Janelle Arthur, and Caitlin Koch were all sent packing. Steven’s protégé, Alyson Jaydos, was also sent packing after she just couldn’t cut it (but we could have told you that after her first audition). Many of you may be surprised by Paris Tassin’s expulsion from the competition, but to be honest, her performance of “My Heart Will Go On” last week was actually kind of awful. We all want her to succeed because of her backstory, but the fact is, her voice isn’t strong enough to keep her there.
“I was bathing in your vocals” -Steven
After Ashley Sullivan faked her group out about leaving the competition at nearly 2 a.m., the performed quite well, giving them all a chance to see Ashley’s INSANE happy dance. (I’m afraid we’re going to see a lot more of that.)
Then came more rivalries! Gee, their forming quickly. “The Minors” and the “Deep Vs” are in a bit of a rift because James Durbin of the Vs is pissed about The Minors receiving help from their moms, and then there’s the whole issue of the two groups singing the same song. Too bad no amount of mama’s help could have saved the Vs from their terrible audition. Only Caleb Johnson and James Durbin made it through (although I still think his voice is just downright unpleasant, and now he’s a whiner to boot). Just like JLo predicted, Emma Henry gets swallowed up in the competition and is sent home. It’s a wonder she made it past the sudden death round, to be honest.
The Minors, who included Jalen Harris, Sarina Joi Cole and Deandre Brackensick were absolutely fantastic. I highly doubt that they suddenly gained extra pure talent in those 10 hours of rehearsal. It must suck to be Durbin and have all that whining put on national TV only to be proven wrong. Sorry, dude.
“You goin’ to hoot for us?” –Steven
Corey Levoy and Hollie Cavanaugh’s group makes it through despite half of them forgetting the words. Then one dumbass is stupid enough to ask the judges why they were sent through. DON’T LOOK A GIFT STEVEN TYLER IN THE MOUTH DUDE. It’s scary.
The next two groups braved a capella auditions. The first was pretty awful, yet Julie Zorilla from Colombia and Casey “Fraggle Rock” Abrams managed to shine and continue on. (Can I just say again how much I love Casey Abrams? Dude can really sing…dawg.) Next was Naima Adedapo’s group; she and teammate Jacob Lusk were the only fantastic ones (Lusk adding an interesting little twist to the end of the song) but they all made it through and I’m still not sure why.
“I don’t know that song.” –Jacee Badeaux
“Well, you can learn it.” –Brett Lowenstern
“The Four Non-blondes and That Guy” featured Devyn Rush (who famously lost her job after auditioning for Idol), Carson Higgins, Caleb Hawley, and Chris Medina. The only standout here was Carson Higgins who was like an awesome singing cartoon. Only Devyn was sent home and she cried about how wrong they were – and sometimes they are, but thems the breaks homeslice.
Finally, we get to the group that accepted sweet little Jacee Badeaux after his original group rejected him in the wee hours of the morning. He didn’t know the words to “Mercy” but made his own little jingle (he only had a few hours to learn it!) and the judges had mercy on the poor kid and sent him and his group members who included Denise Jackson and Brett Lowenstern who is not only an awesome singer, but one of the sweetest people in that auditorium. It just warms my heart. (Oh no, I sound like my grandma.)
Jacee’s rejectors, let by the mega-annoying Clint Jun Gamboa, have to fumble on stage while the judges grill them about screwing over the sweetest little boy, but they manage to pull out a decent performance and they all continue on. Of course, now that he has to face the problem, Scotty McCreery is all teary eyed and sorry that he didn’t stick up for Jacee. Why don’t you go apologize to him instead of CRYING INTO THE CAMERA LIKE A PRIMA DONNA.
“Can we do it like a million more times and then we’ll move on?” –Jaqueline Dunford
Last group! We made it. Thanks for sticking with me. Three’s Company was the group of couples whose plans were dashed when Nick Fink was sent home (good riddance). Chelsee Oaks and her ex Rob Bolin partnered with the abandoned girlfriend Jaqueline Dunford who quickly took over everything. By the time they reach the stage, Rob is so tired he can’t remember the words and completely gives up on the competition. Buh-bye. Something tells me that he’s totally okay with that. Maybe it’s that vacant look in his eyes. Oh well. The girls make it through, although personally I think Jaqueline’s voice is unpleasant and she should have been sent packing with her boyfriend.
Now, let’s all rest up and get prepared for tonight, when the contestants will each fend for themselves and we’ll see who gets to make it to the Idol stage.