While the name Heath Franklin may not be immediately recognisable to the uninitiated Kiwi comedy fan, his comedic alter-ego,”Chopper”, needs no introduction (though we gave him one regardless). Shawn Moodie talked to the comic who is currently touring the country with his show “Bogan Jesus“ as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival.
‘Talk to me about what we can expect from your festival show?
HEATH FRANKLIN: Its 70 minutes of some of the best and funniest jokes I’ve ever written. Also, I’m redoing the ten commandments, Chopper style.
Where’s your favorite place to do stand up?
HEATH FRANKLIN: On stage. That sounds sarcastic I know but I have been asked to do stand up in all sorts of places and its always bloody hard work unless its on a stage. ‘The Classic’ in Auckland is a great place to do stand up. I also like the ‘Comedy Store’ in Sydney.
What’s the weirdest place you’ve done stand up?
HEATH FRANKLIN: On a boat full of strippers and lower management business men.
You’ve been on the comedy scene for a while, what’s a piece of advice you’d give to a new comedian?
HEATH FRANKLIN: Give up now and let us old timers work until we retire or die.
What made you get into comedy?
HEATH FRANKLIN: I always liked coming and making people laugh. I also have no other skills to put on a resume so I’m kind of trapped here. Good thing its going OK for now.
What impact did the Ronnie John’s Half Hour have on your career?
HEATH FRANKLIN: It certainly push started it. In hindsight we were very lucky. Not many 24-year olds get given a show with almost complete creative control. I’ve since learned that making TV isn’t as easy as Ronnie Johns lead me to believe.
Where do you most draw your inspiration for your version of the Chopper character?
HEATH FRANKLIN: My own life, then I Chopper it up a bit. All the things that irk me irk Chopper too which is no coincidence. I also indirectly make fun of myself as Chopper, ridicule stupid things I’ve done and pretend it’s someone else.
What was it like meeting the real Chopper in person?
HEATH FRANKLIN: To be honest a bit disappointing. He was just monosyllabic and terse and pretty guarded. I didn’t get much out of it.
How has your comedy progressed over the years?
HEATH FRANKLIN: I watched back some of my first stand up shows the other day and found it painful. I think I’m much better at writing material now and I’m also more inclined to get rid of jokes that aren’t good enough. I think if I did old material in one of my shows now it would expose it as being pretty weak compared to the new stuff.
What is something that you’d still like to achieve in comedy?
HEATH FRANKLIN: I’ve always dreamed of selling out a show and having no one turn up. Just once. Maybe one day when I’m tired from travelling all day. No work and all pay makes Chopper a happy boy! Also, being able to buy a nice house in the country.
Heath Franklin’s Chopper is currently touring the country with Bogan Jesus as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival with Best Foods Mayo. Full show details here.