Choppers flying Bay visit

By Amy Shanks

Most people make mistakes in life, but Heath Franklin's Chopper has devised a plan to ensure he won't be fooled twice.

The hilarious Australian comedian, best known for his outrageous humour, permanent marker tattoos and handlebar moustache, is returning to New Zealand with his latest skit,

The (s)Hitlist. ''It's basically Chopper getting organised. Instead of having things ruin your day, you put them on the (s)Hitlist and channel them into another place,'' Franklin said. ''It's about not making the same mistake twice.

WhenIwas last in New Zealand I got a bit of takeaway and afterwards I didn't feel so great, a couple of days later I'm eating it again-that's what the (s)Hitlist is for.'' Franklin takes inspiration from the real Chopper-a hardened Australian criminal who had his ears cut off in prison. He first created the skit in 2003 after seeing the film Chopper.

''I always knew Chopper existed, he put himself out there in the media, but it wasn't until I saw the film that I became obsessed, he's just a fascinating person.

''One of the things that appealed to me is the fact that he obviously has an incredibly messed up past, but he's almost roguishly charming.

It's like, why am I on your team? You'reahorrible person but for some reason I'm drawn to you.'' However, channelling Chopper is not as easy as simply imitating his dress sense and that signature Aussie twang.

''I think people genuinely believe that I put on some sunnies and just walk out on to the stage, but it's a little more complicated than that.''

Each time he prepares for a show, Franklin uses permanent marker to draw on numerous body tattoos, which mimic those of the real Chopper.

Most of the material for his shows comes from Franklin's real life experiences, although he always findsaway to give them a distinctly Chopper twist.

''I think of the things that irritate me and translate them. You have to come at things from a different angle, put yourself in a different mindset.''

Sometimes that means making outrageous statements in character and letting Chopper take the hit.

''There's something nice about pretending to be someone else and not having to worry what you say.''

While audiences can expect some crude jokes and inappropriate banter, Franklin says he is not out to offend people. ''Stand-up should be all the things you can't say on TV; just because it's not televisable it doesn't mean people shouldn't hear it. But I don't go out of my way to upset anyone.''

Entertainment Extra caught up with Franklin before he boarded a plane to start his 18-date tour of New Zealand, including a gig at Hawke's Bay Opera House in Hastings on Sunday.

''[Hawke's Bay] has been a regular fixture. It's been great, but as usual when you tour you go to all these pretty places and then you pack up and leave again. I'd like to get a campervan and do a trip around New Zealand at some stage.''

While his show last November show featured a hilarious impersonation of Bear Grylls from Man vs Wild, he would not make an appearance this time around.

''Bear is going to stay behind, it's going to be pure Chopper.''

This tour follows a busy year on the road, with performances across Australia, sold out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in Germany.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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