Heath Franklin, perhaps best known for his impersonation of the late Chopper Read, now has his own TV series…in New Zealand. Franklin as Chopper, it seems, is pretty popular in New Zealand, and appears on TV and tours live quite often. His series, Chopper’s Republic of Anzakistan, is currently airing on TV3.
Playing on the historic friendship and rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, the series imagines that both countries have united as the Republic of Anzakistan with Chopper as leader. Dressed like a South American dictator Chopper addresses the united country, using his speeches to ponder the differences and similarities between the two nations. But it’s there that the high concept of this series ends, for this is really just an excuse to showcase stand-up from Chopper, introduce guest acts (from both countries) and present some sketches about the ANZACs in the trenches. It’s basically Legally Brown, but with more white people and swearing.
Chopper’s stand-up is exactly what you’d expect (honed bogan material that gets solid laughs), the selection of guests is pretty impressive (Sam Simmons, Sammy J and Randy, Jesse Dixon as country singer Wilson Dixon and some good local acts) but the sketches need work.
The concept of an Englishman, an Australian and a New Zealander in the World War I trenches is reasonable enough, but hey, wouldn’t it be funny if the Englishman had to take the coffee orders and the Australian and the New Zealand keep changing their minds about whether they want a soya mocha or a skinny cap? It’s 1915, guys!!! Oh, and none of them can get phone reception, gee these Turkish telcos in 1915 are crap!!! Yeah, it’s that kind of sketch comedy. Probably best to fast forward through those bits.
Chopper’s addresses to the nation are also a bit half-arsed, but hey, it’s a way to link the show together. Sort of. Seriously, they probably just should have framed this as a hands-across-the-Tasman-Sea-stand-up showcase – and without the sketches they could have had room for another guest! But as shows of this type go, Chopper’s Republic of Anzakistan isn’t bad. It’s currently available in Australia if you know where to look for this sort of thing.