The title of Chimp Cop tells you a lot about the show. Firstly, it’s silly. Secondly, it’s about a chimp who is a cop. Thirdly, it’s a cop movie parody. Keep these things in mind.
Chimp Cop is made up of Melbourne stand up comedians Timothy Clark, Adam Knox, Ben Vernel, with guest star Rosie Vernel. The hour long show is one long narrative, the story of Chimp Cop’s return to the police force after spending two years undercover. There’s a corporate robbery, a beautiful woman, and high tensions.
The immediate points of comparison are 90s action flicks like the Naked Gun, but Chimp Cop is aware of the older films that the later fare reference. There’s a strong Noir structure to the plot and the characters alongside the trope-tastic conflict.
The humour of Chimp Cop is referential, but not purely so. The references are couched in other jokes, so that they garner not just laughs of recognition but genuine surprise. There’s a lot of breaking of the fourth wall and great big helpings of self awareness, a strength that the show plays on. There are puns, there are guns, there are bananas.
Knox and Clark’s characters are particularly well written, and the pair deliver their lines with the appropriate snappiness and gravitas. Clark, as the titular character, is utterly comfortable onstage, when he flubs a line, he solves it with a wink and a shrug. Knox has a fantastic range of accents, all of which he manages to deliver despite his obvious ill health. None of the performers are afraid of their own physicality, and their movements complement their verbal gags. The Vernels hold up their end of the show by providing narrative straight men covered in one liners and physical comedy. Beneath their anarchic energy, Chimp Cop fit in some elegant gestures towards classic sketch comedy.
The audience are boisterous, intoxicated by the ridiculousness taking place onstage in front of them. Some may find loud laughter a little off putting, which is a pity because Chimp Cop inspires cackling.
Chimp Cop is on at the Imperial Hotel at 10:15pm until Saturday April 18th. Tickets cost between $12 and $18, and are available online or at the door.