Harry Connick Jr has made a special guest appearance on a live episode of Australian TV show Hey Hey It’s Saturday - and he was so offended by one of the skits on the program that he told host Daryl Somers, “If I knew that was going to be part of the show, I probably – I definitely – wouldn’t have done it.”
Connick Jr appeared on the iconic Australian show, which aired as part two of a reunion special on Wednesday (October 7), to sing a couple of songs and judge ‘Red Faces’, a skewed talent show.
‘Red Faces’ acts are typically silly and goofy, and this episode featured an act Jackson Jive, a parody of the Jackson Five.
It involved a group of six men who danced around with their faces painted black. The group had appeared on the show doing the same skit 20 years earlier, and were performing their act again for as part of the reunion line-up.
Connick Jr sat stony-faced throughout Jackson Jive’s performance and gave them a score of 0 out of 10, commenting that in the United States, the show would have been pulled off the air if such a skit had been played.
Later in the show, host Daryl Somers commented, “I think we may have offended you with that act, and I deeply apologize on behalf of all of us – because I know that to your countrymen, that’s an insult to have a blackface routine like that on the show, so I do apologize.”
Connick Jr, who has appeared on the show several times in the past, responded:
“Thanks Daryl, and I just wanted to say on behalf of my country, I know it was done humorously, but 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,” he said.
“I know it was in good fun, and the last thing I want to do is take this show to a down level – because you know how much I love this show and this country – but I feel like I’m at home here, and if I knew that was going to be part of the show, I probably – I definitely wouldn’t have done it.”
He added, “Thank you for the opportunity, I’ve got to give it up because [I spoke to] Daryl at the break, and he said ‘Man, you need to speak up as an American – not as a white American or a black American, but as an American’. [I felt] I needed to say that, so thanks for giving me the opportunity, I appreciate it. You’re a good man for letting me do that.”
The pair seemed to move on, as Somers then presented Connick Jr an ‘honorary cast member’ award in recognition of his contribution to the program over the years.
Hey Hey It’s Saturday was a long-running variety show in Australia that ran for 28 years, from 1971 through to 1999. Channel 9 commissioned a two-episode reunion special that aired September 30 and October 7; due to strong ratings, there is the possibility that the show will return full-time.