Hungry for a laugh – and a pizza

Aussie comedian Heath Franklin’s bringing his infamous character ‘Chopper’ to town, and he’s not here to shag spiders.

The comedic character’s based on Mark Brandon ‘Chopper’ Read, an Australian convicted criminal, gang member and author.

Franklin’s interpretation’s beloved on both sides of the Tasman — here, thanks in large part to his stand-up gigs and his regular appearances on Three’s 7 Days.

He’s just wrapping up the North Island leg of his Kiwi tour — ‘Not here to f*** spiders’ – and will kick off his South Island leg in Queenstown on Wednesday.

Franklin says the show comprises his take on “silly things people are obsessed with at the moment, and whether or not they’re worth worrying about – like brioche buns, vaping and electric scooters”.

“People keep doing new and stupid things, which is not great for the species in the long run, but it is great for writing material.”

The name of his show essentially translates as not wasting time on unnecessary things, and that’s exactly the plan while he’s in town where he’s pumped about chowing down on a pizza by the fire at The Cow, a place he fell in love with during a family holiday in 1995.

“Usually on tour I don’t really get any time to stop and smell the roses, but for the Queenstown leg of the tour I have a whole day before the gig to wander around.

“I’m looking forward to walking around the lake, and if there’s no queue at Fergburger I might give it a go.”

He’s a self-confessed fan of New Zealand and says he’s missed the Kiwi crowds – “[I’ve] learnt to expect big things from them, always showing up in droves”.

Franklin’s also using the tour to pay it forward for small New Zealand businesses, in particular, craft beer brewers.

On each leg of the tour he’s taken to social media, in character, to review a beer – in Auckland, for example, he tasted Behemoth’s ‘Fresh Prince of Mt Eden’ which he concluded had a “little hint of bong water at the back there, maybe”, while in Hamilton he was told to try Waikato Draught, and then told by everyone else not to touch it.

Instead he went for “The Tron Cocktail” – a Woodstock Bourbon and cola – which he concluded was “serious fight juice”.

“A while ago I was very anti-craft beer,” Franklin tells Mountain Scene.

“But then I realised that 70% of the beer drunk in Australia is owned by Asahi.

“I love doing the reviews as it’s nice to give a shout out to small breweries, and it helps me engage in the area.”

He’s not yet worked out which beer he’ll review in Queenstown, but the one to beat is Wellington’s Double Vision Brewery’s ‘Luscious Loompa’ – a chocolate-orange port – though he notes that’s definitely “more of a Heath beer than a Chopper one”.

Heath Franklin’s Chopper – Not here to f*** spiders, Queenstown Memorial Centre, Wednesday, June 5, from 7pm. Limited tickets available from $45, via Ticketek

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