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Published April 4, 2016

“How does a chimp even become a cop?”

Adam Knox, Ben Vernel, Rosie Vernel and Timothy Clark have taken another look down the back of the sofa and unearthed a long lost VHS copy of classic cop show Chimp Cop. Rookie cop Rachel Rosethorn has dreamed of being Chimp Cop since she was a little girl. He was her inspiration to join the academy. Imagine her surprised being partnered with him on her very first big city case; a hostage negotiation that soon goes bad. And that’s all before the opening credits.

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And oh! Those opening credits. A lot of time and effort has been put into preparing the exact right audio and visual effects, projected behind the performers in the style of a late 80s – early 90s video release. As you take your seat in one of the Imperial’s upstairs comedy rooms, you’re greeted with a slew of dated adverts, and before the show starts “you” fast-forward through some pre-movie trailers and an ad for your local video store, stopping only briefly to take note of the FBI warning.

The plot – while hilarious – is very incidental, really only used as a way to navigate from one send-up of notable clichés to the next. There’s a shooting, a few dramatic reveals, a heist, but quite often only as a commentary on notable tropes, helped by a lose awareness of the fourth wall. While the style screams late 80s, the timing is left deliberately ambiguous, allowing for “current” references to be made to all manner of films and TV shows, notably Die Hard and Mission Impossible.

It’s low budget comedy at its finest; Tim is Chimp Cop, Rosie is Rachel, leaving Adam and Ben a lion’s share of the work as everyone else, but boy do they pull it off! The performances are strong, and everyone weaves their way around the opening night fumbles and an overly enthusiastic crowd with deft professionalism. The consistent laughter frequently requires the performers to take a couple of beats as they waited for the noise level to die down before moving on to their next joke.

If you’re keen to take a chance on something a little less well known, appreciate a well told if slightly daggy joke, and don’t mind that you won’t get a chance to drink your beer for fear it will end up on the neck of the audience member in front of you, Chimp Cop Nights may just be perfect for you.

Chimp Cop Nights is at the Imperial Hotel at 10:15pm every night until April 16. Prices $15 – $18. Take advantage of the Imperial’s new rooftop bar (I like the chips in gravy!) before and after the show, and you can take a drink in with you.

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