I had a chat with Aussie legend and well known Chopper Read impersonator, Heath Franklin, ahead of his Bogan Jesus national tour. We talked about the concept of the show, his previous achievements, and what the real Chopper Read thought of his impersonations.
J: Hey man, how are you?
I’m good, I’ve just been relaxing and looking after the kids on school holidays.
J: It’s strange to hear you speaking in your own voice *laughs*. I was watching Ronnie Johns Half Hour the other day, and the first scene I saw of you, you had your ‘daughter’ in your arms, she’d just ruined your new Lexus and you threw her off a cliff. There’s some very silly scenes in that show.
That’s right, god. I obviously didn’t have kids back then when I was joking about throwing them off cliff’s *laughs*. I probably wouldn’t make that joke these days, there was a hint of truth, even though it wasn’t reality. Sometimes I fantasize about that when the kids are getting ratty *laughs* don’t worry, I’d obviously never do that.
J: There’s a family man behind the character I suppose. You’ve got the resurrection tour for Bogan Jesus coming up, which is a revival of your Chopper Reid character, tell me a bit about that.
The last show I did was ANZACistan, which was about Chopper starting his own country because he was sick of watching everyone else do it badly. The premise of this one is basically that chopper’s decided to start his own religion, because he’s sick of watching everyone else do such a crap job with it. It’s kind of about Chopper going through his version of what the Ten Commandments would be.
J: The real Chopper Read has passed away now, but back when he was alive, he wasn’t too impressed with the cheeky character you portrayed. How did that effect things for you, did you get much backlash for your character?
I wouldn’t say I’m facing any backlash. At the time, there were a few interesting moments. I was never quite sure if he didn’t like what I was doing, or if he was just being told to react that way. I get a feeling it miffed him a bit sometimes, especially when I had a tour that was selling really well and he wasn’t doing so well selling his own shows. The anniversary of his passing was just the other day, so it’s definitely quietened down a bit. I remember doing a show in Kalgoorlie in WA, and a phone number I didn’t recognize called me. It was Choppers bodyguard, and I could hear Chopper in the background fuming, I got told off a little but it wasn’t too serious. It made me a little nervous.
J: You never had any thought of eliminating the Chopper character?
Nah, I mean I never tried to do it in a way that made Chopper look stupid or bad. He’s an interesting guy, he makes a much more interesting character than just another thirty year old dude doing stand-up comedy. I never really considered whether it would piss him off, but I later realized the biggest threat would be the financial jealousy.
You can catch the hilarious Heath Franklin on his Bogan Jesus tour, hitting all major cities across Australia. Keep up to date with what he’s up to by following him on social media or via his website. Grab your tickets now for a good laugh, guaranteed.