Say hello to Heath Franklin, the man behind Chopper impersonation, at Rottofest 2017, kiddies

Heath Franklin as Chopper.
Heath Franklin as Chopper.

WHEN Heath Franklin met the late Mark ‘Chopper’ Read at a photo shoot, he was hoping for rare insight into the man he’d been impersonating for several years.

That didn’t happen.

“It was just a bit awkward to be honest,” the Sydney comedian said.

“He was very monosyllabic and that was that; I suppose it’s hard to take it too seriously when some kid comes along dressed like you in a fake moustache.

“He said: ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ a few times but I think he was just going with the PR line he was given.”

Franklin, who made his TV debut in The Ronnie Johns Half Hour sketch show in 2005 and was nominated for a Logie in 2006, has been imitating the infamous Aussie criminal for about 12 years.

“Chopper has always been associated with extreme violence but somehow garnered a lot of fans,” Franklin said.

“I never really had much to do with the original Chopper, I just really loved the Eric Bana film and the way his character swung between super charming and amazingly violent, which is incredibly useful in comedy.

“If someone who looks like me stands up on stage and tells everyone he wants to kill a parking inspector everyone goes: ‘Oh, that’s a bit much,’ but when you add a ridiculous moustache and some glasses then all of a sudden it’s more believable.”

Franklin never considered comedy as a career in his younger years.

“I thought I could do advertising because you can make funny ads but then I realised you could make funny sketches and you didn’t need to sell anyone anything but I had no idea it would be viable and I could make a living out of it,” he said.

“I was studying (law and media) at uni and eventually given the opportunity to make a TV show and thought: ‘Screw this, I’m out of here.’”

Franklin performs alongside fellow comedians Arj Barker and Frenchy at Rottofest 2017.

What: Rottofest 2017
Where: Rottnest Island
When: November 17-19
Tickets: www.rottofest.com.au

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