And so, the problems with religion are broken down for us. What’s no longer cool about being religious and going to church and how can our Bogan Jesus reinvigorate our belief? The comic structure is quite methodical. The routine is broken down into an establishing segment, where we gloss over potential issues and changes before we get stuck into the big guns: revamping the Commandments. They range from re-hashes of the existing ten, “Love thy Bogan”, to completely new offers that fit into Chopper’s more Boganesque aesthetic, “No Fuckwit Brooms”. It gives the show a clear through-line and helps Franklin vary the rhythm; he knows the beats he needs to hit, and that gives him a bit of freedom as to how hard, how fast, and how many times he hits them.
Franklin's comedy covers a rather colourful range of topics behind Jesus and religion: same sex marriage, animal cruelty, transgender rights, dick pics, modern day ‘worships’, waiting on hold, and people who claim the book is always better, are just a few. I take a hearty laugh and sigh of relief with each, as Franklin navigates what could be several minefields with equal parts comedy and care. While no topic is off limits, it never feels like a joke goes too far without a clear purpose or awareness becoming the punchline. The comedy is intelligent yet stupid; it’s smart enough to dissect and analyse and it’s logic can be ridiculous enough to cause involuntary fits of laughter.
The way Franklin and his alter ego interact with the audience is one of key factors making Bogan Jesus the sell-out success it is. He plays off the audience reaction well, using what we connect to or spend minutes constantly laughing at in advancing through the routine. This ranges from asking a few of us about our religious beliefs, or lack thereof, at the beginning to extending the jokes of punchlines met with thunderous laughter. One of the first audience members he interacts with is his soon-to-be good buddy Nigel the private investigator; Nigel’s remembered and referred back to at several points within the set, brought into jokes where possible. And when a joke about ‘giving it back’ to certain occupations leaves us in hysterics, even Franklin can’t help but giggle as he brings the punchline back for round two.
The audience of tonight’s performance could barely contain their post-show excitement; hell, someone may have even set off a fire alarm while we were filling out of the auditorium. What’s more bogan than that? My partner and I meet the cold, Wellington air outside, but we’re all warm and content inside thanks to a night chock-full of hilarity. Bogan Jesus nailed all the marks it was trying to hit in rekindling God’s flame; it’s just a pity his Wellington resurrection was one-night only.
You can catch the tour in other parts of the country by visiting the 2018 NZ International Comedy Festival’s website.