Interview: Chris Parker On Acting As The Role Model He Never Had

Chris Parker is a 27 year old actor and comedian from Christchurch, New Zealand. I’ve been a fan of his for awhile and got to see him in Hudson & Halls Live! when it came to Hannah Playhouse in Wellington (which was amazing). Recently I got the chance to interview him about his life and all the awesome things that happen in it.

Q: Where did you grow up and how did you get into acting?

A: Ok well my full name is Christopher Robert Parker and I grew up in Christchurch New Zealand. When I was a young boy I had bad co-ordination, like “we need to talk to a professional about this” bad. So my mother enrolled me into ballet classes in an effort to help me out. That sparked my desire to perform. From there she enrolled me into drama classes, to help channel some of the energy I has at home into something more creative. Then I decided it was the only thing I wanted to do with my life. Im 27 now and have not given up yet.

Q: What is your favourite part about performing and writing?

A: I reckon I find my purpose in this world on stage. Like day to day I can get quite bogged down with massive existential questions such as “why am I on this earth” and “what am I doing with my life” but when I’m on stage it all goes away, I just have to entertain the crowd. I can understand that, it’s an easy life purpose. I love telling good stories, at dinner parties I always get over excited when I have a good story to tell. Theatre is getting to do that on the grandest possible level.

In 2015 and 2016, Chris Parker played David Halls in the live theatre version of the New Zealand television show Hudson and Halls, Hudson & Halls Live!. The show played at Auckland’s Silo Theatre in 2015 and Wellington’s Hannah Playhouse in 2016.

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Q: What did you like about doing Hudson & Halls Live!?

A: It’s a brilliant show, it’s a pleasure to be in it. There is nothing hard about doing that show, every joke, every moment, every look is a pleasure to do. They are such an incredible slice of New Zealand history too, so to be able to remind or introduce them to audiences all around the country is a great honour.

Chris premiered his show No More Dancing In The Good Room at the 2015 Comedy Festival, and has played it in various places around New Zealand since. No More Dancing In The Good room is an autobiographical performance about a young gay boy growing up in middle class Christchurch.

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Q: Why do you think No More Dancing In The Good Room is important and what did you like about doing it?

A: I really wanted to challenge this old fashion notion of what a “New Zealand Man” is. Growing up I never identified to the picture of New Zealand men I was being shown. There are some great role models for men in this country but they are all a very similar kind of “man” Telling my story is my small way of broadening that image. Also when I grew up in Christchurch, I had no gay role models, no one was sharing their story of coming out. So I figured I may as well do it, that way I can be there for someone else.

As well as doing various live shows, Chris Parker writes for TV3’s Jono and Ben and Funny Girls.

Q: What’s it like working with everyone on TV3?

A: It’s like turning up to work with your friends every day. Sorry, it IS turning up to work with your friends every day.

Snort is Auckland’s improvisational comedy troupe that play every Friday night at 10pm at the Basement Theatre. Snort includes other awesome people such as Rose Matafeo, Guy Montgomery, Joseph Moore, Nic Sampson, Eli Mathewson, Alice Snedden, Donna Brookbanks, Eddy Dever, Laura Daniel & Hamish Parkinson.

Q: What is it like doing Snort and why should everyone go and see it?

A: Snort is one of things I can’t imagine life without it. It’s so much more than a weekly improv show for me. It’s a community, its opportunity, it’s friendship, it’s everything. For those who don’t know come to the Basement Theatre Friday Night at 10pm and watch the funniest people I know entertain you for an hour. It’s affordable and the best vibe in Auckland

Q: How do you think the New Zealand comedy and/or acting community is different to the rest of the world?

A: People in this country complain that is too small and that they need to go and escape to a bigger country. But I think New Zealand’s size is one of it’s greatest assets. We are small enough that our industry isn’t impossible to work in. There is quite a bit of work and not hundreds and thousands of actors who look like you who will get the job over you. We are big enough now though that their is an audience for that work. I think you can fast track your career in this country, because there are lots of opportunities and cool people who are open to listening and meeting new talent.

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In 2016 Chris and his friend Eli Matthewson began their podcast ‘The Male Gayz’ which can be downloaded here, there are new episodes weekly.

Q: What do you like about doing the Male Gayz and why do you think it’s important?

A: Once again it was Eli and I’s attempt to be the role models that were missing in our up bringing. We wanted to create a podcast for young gay people who didn’t have other people to listen and talk to. Make them feel less alone and give them something relatable to laugh at. Eli is a wicked friend and talented comedian so it’s an honour to work with him on it

Q: If you could give any advice to a young teenager not knowing who they are or wanting to come out what would you tell them?

A: There is no rush! Take your time, surround yourself with cool people, talk to your friends about it first. They will totally understand because they are young and cool and you choose to be around them. They will help you and give you courage to tell the harder people. Don’t let anyone take this journey away from you. It’s special. It can be the most beautiful time in your life. So no need to rush it.

Q: What is it like being an openly gay actor and comedian in New Zealand?

A: I recommend everyone giving it a go. Sorry weird joke. I heard rumours before coming out like “don’t talk about being gay in the industry because you only get cast as gay.” and to be honest that way of thinking is bullshit and homophobic. I have no worries about only being cast as homosexual, and if I’m only cast as gay men for the rest of my career then what an honour that will be. Fortunately we live in a time where writers creating more diverse roles. So hopefully that keeps growing.

Q: Where can people see you this year/what are you doing that’s coming up?

A: We are bring out 2016 New Zealand International Comedy Festival show CAMPING to the Q Theatre Loft as part of Auckland Pride in early Feb. You’ll want to book for that 🙂 Thomas Sainsbury and I will be premiering a new show in this years Comedy Festival, Hudson & Halls: Live! is coming back to Silo Theatre this year for a Mid-Winter Christmas and I’ll be trying to do as much TV and Web stuff that I can get my dirty little hands on as possible.

You can also follow Chris on Twitter here.

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