November 07, 2022
The New Zealand Comedy Trust is delighted to announce that the inaugural Topp Prize has been awarded to the multi-talented comedian and self-proclaimed People's Princess of Aotearoa - Chris Parker.
Recognised as one of Aotearoa’s most generous and gifted comedians, Parker takes home $15,000 and two iconic milk bottle lolly artworks from Simon Lewis Wards - housed in a double hot pink crate to match Camp Mother’s pantsuit. But most importantly, Chris has the prestige and recognition bestowed by a kick-ass selection panel and Dames Jools and Lynda Topp – the namesakes of this new award.
Dames Lynda and Jools Topp say: “We are honoured to have our legacy acknowledged alongside kiwi comedy legends Billy T James and Fred Dagg. As young performers, we were not afraid to stand up for what we believed in and incorporated these issues into our live shows. Being out lesbians in the early 80s singing country music through comedic characters the Gingham Sisters was probably one of the most diverse combinations of political comedy in the world, and to have an award honouring those qualities in 2022 means so much to us. A message we would like to give to the next generation of comedians is "Believe in yourself, believe in your message and believe you are funny as".”
After surprising Chris with a Zoom call, the Dames told him he was now part of a special Topp comedy whānau forever, and he should proclaim loudly “I’m Chris Parker and I’m a Topp Man today!”
Chris Parker is at the top of his game. Since winning the New Zealand Comedy Trust’s prestigious Fred Award in 2018 he’s toured to sell-out audiences, won Celebrity Treasure Island NZ, had his felting hat exhibited at the Auckland Museum and Te Papa, published a book, and created the TVNZ special Chris Parker: Back To School. All of this, and he’s never compromised his unique voice and comedic flair.
“This is a huge honour. I’ve always truly idolised the Topp Twins and I spend an alarming amount of time watching them on YouTube. A performer like myself is a product of the work, advocacy and representation that they’ve put out into the world with such positivity and respect for Aotearoa. I’m so touched.”
– Chris Parker
The New Zealand Comedy Trust established the Topp Prize in 2022 as a non-competitive prize awarded annually to a practising individual, duo or group with a strong, clear and unique voice. It can be bestowed to a person or group making Aotearoa laugh with an out-of-the-box approach, whether that comedy takes place on the stage, on the screen or in a completely unexpected comedy space altogether. They should embody the wildcard spirit of the Topp Twins, our original trailblazers who have been entertaining us all for 40 years!
“Since erupting on to the Aotearoa comedy scene, Chris Parker has been the epitome of a wildcard and trailblazer. His unique comedy perspective and world-class talent has allowed him to create an amazing career that continues to inspire and entertain, while also being able to expand what comedy can be. Chris has welcomed new audiences to enjoy comedy in new ways.”
– Lauren Whitney, New Zealand Comedy Trust General Manager
This year’s selection panel led by comedy industry legend Paul Horan represented a diverse range of perspectives and expertise. 2022 panellists included Sam Brooks (The Spinoff – Journalist and Playwright), Morgan Waru (Piki Films Producer), Amie Mills (NZ On Air – Head of Funding), Tim Batt (Comedian and Producer), Salesi Le’ota (Playmarket Coordinator and Arts Practitioner) and Rhys Nicholson (Comedian and judge on Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under).
Paul Horan said a key consideration for the panel was recognising “People who make their own way and take others with them.”
Chris Parker will be awarded the Topp Prize on stage at The Civic during the Topp Class: The Topp Twins Tribute Show on Monday 07 November which is being filmed for Prime TV and RNZ.