Went to see John Pierson interview Matt Stone, co-creator of South Park last night at the Austin City Limits studio on campus here at the University of Texas. Here’s a little write-up. I took some crummy sketchbook notes—could not for the life of me figure out how to draw him, so I just drew him as Kyle.
I have a kind of sentimental attachment to South Park: it came out the summer after my parents divorced, and my dad and I used to sit around in his little apartment and watch it and laugh our heads off. Humor when we needed it.
So, it was a real pleasure to hear him speak about the show, and his collaboration with Trey Parker. His thoughts were funny and intelligent.
Some highlights for me:
- The show was originally supposed to be a “X-Files set in the mountains” with all the townspeople seeing aliens, etc. That premise got quickly worn out, but they kept the small town setting, which would later serve as a little microcosm for America, keeping the show continually fresh.
- Their method of cut-outs was born out of procrastination: they do each show in only a week, and the quickness of the whirlwind process keeps them from getting bored. Stone said he barely remembers the shows after they finish them. He quoted Danny DeVito as saying, “Movies are never finished, only abandoned.” (There’s a different origin to that quote, but it’s true for all art forms.)
- Stone said they always used to start a project by making a trailer first, and they’d use that to shop it around.
He listed three things that make his job the best job in Hollywood:
- Complete creative control
- Working with friends
- Living five minutes away from work
When you think about it, that’s the formula for any great job…
- Speaking of formulas, here’s the formula to most South Park episodes:
- A controversial issue
- Two extreme sides screaming at each other
- Kids stuck in the middle
And again, when you think about it, that pretty much describes America.
Lots of other topics were discussed: Youtube, the original “The Spirit of Christmas” short, the Scientology Episode, the Britney Spears Show, lawyers, the 80s, the writer’s strike, Cannibal: The Musical!, and the genius Universal Studios Employee video.
Great, great event. Thanks to Janet for inviting me!