Chris Franklin’s hit song ‘Bloke’ features on the comedy compilation CD Politically Incorrect. It turns out that the funny man has a fascinating history, too…
Interview: Nathan Lawrence
Can you remember the first thing you did to make someone laugh?
I was in the Navy and away at sea. All the different branches on the ship have a representative or a team of representatives who will perform at a show one evening. As the cook’s representative, I recited a half-hour of Col Elliott jokes that I’d been listening to as a child and made the whole ship laugh.
We’ve heard you cooked for the Queen in the 1980s. Is that true?
That’s correct. I was one of seven Navy cooks chosen to cook for her at the changing of the colours at HMAS Cerberus in Victoria, and we almost killed her.
Well, we had to cook the meal on several occasions before the Queen ate it, just to make sure that we got it right and for approval by various people. So we cooked it for the Premier of Victoria, then we cooked it for the Prime Minister, and then for the Governor-General, and they all approved the menu. So we cooked it for the Queen. About 70 per cent of the menu was seafood, and Elizabeth Windsor is allergic to seafood. Even the Queen’s own representative didn’t know that. Had she eaten some seafood, we might have solved the whole republic/monarchy debate there and then, long before it started.
How did you make the jump from your first stand-up experience in the Navy to making it your career?
I was in Melbourne drinking in a pub on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and there was a comedian named Chris Bennett standing at the bar. He’d been on Hey Hey It’s Saturday, so I recognised his face from there, and after a few beers I went over and just annoyed the shit out of him. “Here’s a joke you can use, and here’s another joke, and here’s a song I sing.” I annoyed him for about eight hours.
What was the inspiration behind your hit ‘Bitch’ parody, ‘Bloke’?
Life, I guess. There was another comedian named Pommy Johnson—he did a musical act—and he lived with Chris Bennett. He just happened to be with Chris the night that I was annoying him and before I’d even started doing comedy, he said, “I’ve got an idea for a song. I want to do a parody of the Meredith Brooks song ‘Bitch’. I either want to do it about Pauline Hanson and still call it ‘Bitch’ or do the male response and call it ‘Bloke’.” So I went around to his house, and within about three minutes I had written both versions. He chose to use the Pauline Hanson version, ‘Bitch’, on stage. Then, when I finally got roped into doing the comedy, I asked, “Do you mind if I do that ‘Bloke’ song?” He said, “You wrote it, go for it.” And it went to number one. He picked the wrong song!
‘Bitch’ is touted as a feminist anthem. Did you cop any flak for your take on the song?
To be able to release the CD, we had to get approval from Meredith Brooks and her co-writer, Shelly Peiken. Meredith was fine with it and Shelly was a little bit la-di-da about it. She said, “I don’t want anyone to parody it, my music is like artwork, it’s like a masterpiece that you hang on the wall.” So we had to send the head of EMI Australia over to England to convince her that it was going to make some money for her. And I sent her over with the message, “Tell her I’ve gone over her masterpiece in crayons and I didn’t stay within the lines.”
We’re willing to bet that he didn’t pass that on…
No, I hope not. He pointed out to her how much she might have made out of my single, because we went halves in the artist royalty, and I can only assume that her response was, “Well then, fuck art, and let him do it.”
Politically Incorrect Vol.1 is available at: http://www.politicallyincorrect.com.au/