By Will Erskine
Ben Vernel, Adam Knox, Rosie Vernel and Timothy Clark are Melbourne based sketch troupe Chimp Cop. Over the past 4 years they have established themselves at the festival through their spoof cop movie franchise of the same name. The Death of Chimp Cop is the 4th installment in the series and to tackle the obvious question first, no you don’t need to have seen the first 3 for this one to make sense. This is a marvelously slick production that engages and delivers laughs throughout, from the quirky opening credits to the ridiculous conclusion.
It is a spoof cop action movie, presented in cinematic form complete with soundtrack and opening credits. The pace is of the show is incredible, making the 50-minute performance feel like half that. Each scene is so packed with puns, gags and prop comedy that it feels like for every joke that you notice there were 3 more hidden behind the surface. The plot progresses over a series of sketches blending between a current day courthouse and flashbacks to scenes of central protagonist Chimp Cop’s battle against one of his toughest adversaries.
The shows strength comes from its overall narrative and the combination of its parts. While each sketch could stand-alone in isolation the show is so much more than a series of unrelated sketches, delivering genuine story progression and character development often missing from sketch comedy.
On paper spoofing cop shows doesn’t seem like the strongest idea for a comedy festival show – and particularly not 4 comedy festival shows. The show is carried by the creativity and talent of every member of the group. This is very much an ensemble cast with each member getting equal measure of the laughs and funny moments.
The gags in The Death of Chimp Cop range from the bizarre, to the intelligent all the way to the wilfully awful – it is the combination of the three that leaves the audience begging for more by the end of the performance.
It will be fascinating to see if this really is the death of the Chimp Cop character. Whether, in the spirit of movie franchises, the troupe return to the well once more, or they decide to create new characters it will without doubt be another a must see show.
The Death of Chimp Cop is on at Trades Hall until 22nd April details on the website:
By Elyce Phillips
Sketch group Chimp Cop (Timothy Clark, Adam Knox, Ben Vernel and Rosie Vernel) have earnt themselves a reputation as cult favourites at MICF. At the last couple of festivals, word quickly spread around about how hilarious they were, and their late-night shows became must-see viewing for comedy fans. Chimp Cop Forever, the third installment of the Chimp Cop saga, keeps the old-school gags coming in a thrilling tale about a man who is part chimp, all cop.
Chimp Cop Forever starts out strong with one of the most inventive opening sequences I’ve seen in a comedy show. The crew don’t have a screen this year so there are no pre-recorded sketches, and with the regular audio-visual element out, they’ve come up with clever workarounds. It’s a great introduction, and it sets up the story neatly. Chimp Cop must head to his hometown, working undercover to expose a drug ring, and it gets personal.
In the past, Chimp Cop’s humour has been compared to Police Squad! and Naked Gun, and not without reason. The group is clearly influenced by these sight-gag-heavy pun-fests and it’s absolutely delightful to see that tradition continue on. Chimp Cop Forever hits on all the great tropes of the crime genre, playing with them in an affectionate, utterly silly way.
The cast of Chimp Cop work together brilliantly. There’s clear chemistry between them all and their performances are slicker than they’ve been in the past. Clark is brilliantly funny as the titular Chimp Cop, and Knox, Vernel and Vernel are absolutely terrific as a rotating cast of characters – from Chimp Cop’s dad, Criminal Cop, to a series of bumbling henchmen and stooges.
Chimp Cop Forever is the best kind of late-night festival fun. It had the audience doubled over with laughter, and continues Chimp Cop’s record of producing fabulous comedy.
Chimp Cop Forever’s run at MICF has finished, but the sketch group will be premiering a new show later this year.
By Elyce Phillips
We all had slightly embarrassing email addresses when we were younger. Email addresses that spoke to just how cool we were in high school. My first email included a reference to a Tetley tea commercial I thought was pretty great, so we all know I was very cool and definitely had a lot of friends. Timothy Clark’s old email address makes for a brilliant opening sketch in firstname.lastname@example.org, and follows through the hour as an example of misguided youth. It’s a terrific show filled with stand-up and storytelling that looks back on Clark’s earlier, awkward days.
Clark’s act is confident, polished and always a step or two ahead of the audience. Even when you think you’ve adjusted to his comedic style, he still manages to catch you off-guard. The stories in email@example.com are funny and honest – the usual tales of gigs gone wrong and romantic misadventures – but are pushed a step or two further than expected. There’s a Tinder story, but it diverts somewhere weird. There’s a tale of a nightmare corporate job, but then a killer jazz joke. For every stand-up trope this show hits, there is a delightfully surprising counterpart to keep you on your toes. Clark’s delivery strikes a fine balance between relatable vulnerability and attention-holding bravado. He’s quick to get the audience onside and the energy stayed up right through the show.
firstname.lastname@example.org is stand-up done well, filled with anecdotes that feel familiar but are still unique enough to keep you laughing. It’s a fine example of the fact that any topic can feel fresh if it’s tackled with enough talent. Timothy Clark has crafted a belter of a show, and it’s got a killer finale that’s sure to impress any fan of late ‘90s pop culture.
email@example.com is on at Number 12 La Barre Electronique until April 9
By Elyce Phillips
When a business mogul goes missing and a man shows up dead, Detectives Chimp Cop and Tijuana Goldberg are on the case. Adam Knox, Ben Vernel, Timothy Clark and Rosie Vernel ham it up as a cast of good cops, bad cops, rogues and dames. It’s everything you love about a good detective drama, done on about 1/100th of the budget.
Chimp Cop is a loving parody of detective noir. It feels heavily influenced by Naked Gun, with a dose of Raymond Chandler in there for good measure. There are a lot of cheesy puns, plenty of stupid sight gags, and enough accents to cover every single cop show stereotype. The Chimp Cop team throw themselves into their performance wholeheartedly – to the point that there were probably a few prop-based injuries on stage. There aren’t a whole heap of bells and whistles in this show, but they work well with what they’ve got. A video screen is used to good effect to set the tone at the start. The character transitions could be clunky in the small space, but a few ad-libbed lines smooth things over.
Chimp Cop is a little rough around the edges, but there is some absolute gold in this hour of sketch. A graphic visual stand-in for a sex scene was…memorable, and an extended video montage about friendship was hands-down the funniest thing I’ve seen at the Festival so far. It sent me into one of those slightly terrifying hysterical laughs where you momentarily fear that you may never stop laughing. It’s the kind of unhinged madness that you want in late-night comedy.
Chimp Cop is incredibly silly and a whole lot of fun. If you’re a fan of cop dramas, there’s plenty of laughs to be had, and if you’re not, you’ll probably still get a chuckle out of the nonsense of it all.
Chimp Cop is on at the Imperial Hotel until April 18
By Colin Flaherty
Adam Knox, Ben Vernel and Timothy Clark have created a sketch show that takes the topics of comedy and history and smashes them together. The resultant rubble was a sometimes clever but often just plain silly hour of lunacy.
Sketches ranged from meta discussions of humour to twisted historical examples of jokes to current events given a darkly comedic treatment to scenes set in the past with a passing whiff of humour tropes. Some particularly clever ideas looked at humour from an almost alien perspective and used wordplay to fantastic effect. The scenes came thick and fast with some witty linking material holding it together.
On the whole this was a blunt kind of humour that didn’t shy away from using broad stereotypes and touchy subjects to get laughs. The fourth wall was regularly demolished while every imaginable comedic trope was held up to ridicule. Historical facts usually took a back seat to the jokes and merely provided a convenient setting for the sketches.
In any other sketch show the rough nature of the performance would be seen as a failure but this show revelled in this kind of anarchy. Things were seemingly always in danger of falling apart and there was a nice story arc of sorts where the performers comically lost control of proceedings.
Several of the sketches were a little long and the punchlines could be telegraphed quite early but this was probably by design. They were clearly trying to milk every piece of over acting and knowing glance at the audience for as many laughs as possible but it came dangerously close to needless self-indulgence. Nonetheless it was hard not to get swept up in the chaotic spirit of the show and find yourself regularly in fits of laughter.
The chemistry within the trio was wonderful with Clark regularly playing the fool on stage and Vernel the straight man. Knox’s tinkling of the ivories was an unexpected treat. The music that he played didn’t exactly provide humour but fitted in with the scenes perfectly.
This was a brilliant hour of sketch that combined enough smarts to satisfy the comedy nerds in the audience with plenty of base humour the keep everyone else chuckling. You won’t learn much but you’ll have a great time doing so.
A Brief History of Comedy is on at The Imperial Hotel at 7pm until September 28