Comedian Heath Franklin is nothing like alter ego Chopper Read.
Good natured, well-spoken and sentences constructed without the stream of profanities that litter his performances, you’d be hard-pressed to recognise Franklin walking down the street.
But when he takes to the stage, all bets are off and no holds are barred as he brings one of Australia’s most notorious criminals to life – tats and all.
“The thing is, I can get away with more as him – it’s a little less hard to take seriously,” he says of the notorious Chopper, a convicted murderer, kidnapper and armed robber.
Franklin met the real Chopper only once, in a get-together that was awkward to say the least.
“He’s not incredibly friendly … a big, gruff, fierce, terse guy. There’s not much chat about the weather.”
However, he says that Chopper finds him pretty amusing.
“He told me to cut my ears off to make it more authentic.”
Franklin, a common sight on New Zealand screens and stages, says he prefers Kiwi audiences to Australian ones, claiming: “They’re not quite as aggro”.
A bold statement, as an Australian himself. But then again, who’s going to mess with Chopper?
Catch Chopper – The (s)Hitlist at the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall on November 20 at 7.30pm and 9.30pm. Tickets from $36.90 plus booking fee (Lakes Leisure, Ticketek)