Watching Jon Stewart rave about The Book of Mormon, the new Broadway musical from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, last night for a solid seven minutes, I realized that in an instance like this, his opinion actually carries as much weight with me as any theater critic’s will — if not more. That said, I was always going to go see The Book of Mormon, but now, if it doesn’t live up to my expectations, I will be disappointed in him as well. Watch the fawning interview below.
Hearing that Parker and Stone manage to “satirize religion while almost simultaneously celebrating it” won’t surprise anyone who’s a fan of their work, but it’s fun to see how touched Parker and Stone appear as Stewart’s compliments escalate to this: “There is a song in this that I think… when the aliens come thousands of years from now, it may exist as the only memory of Earth, and I gotta say, I’m happy to go down with it.” (Another fun moment to watch for: When talking about the positive response from Mormons who’ve seen the show, Parker cracks that everyone the duo has ever made fun of on South Park has loved it. Says Stewart: “Yes, I remember the security.”)
Parker says the response from the Broadway community has generally been surprise and then happiness over the fact that The Book of Mormon is actually a traditional musical. I’m always surprised when other people are shocked by how good their work is. Just because their humor is irreverent doesn’t mean they’ll disrespect a medium or half-ass something. These are the guys who got Matrix cinematographer Bill Pope and Independence Day pyro Joe Viskocil to work on their marionette movie Team America: World Police. They were nominated for an Original Song Oscar for South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut. They’ve won four Emmys. And as they’ve been mentioning in every interview, they’ve crammed music into everything they’ve done, starting with their first film, Cannibal! The Musical. If you’ve haven’t seen that, it’s available on Hulu now. Hulu also has the full drunken commentary version, which I’ve taken the liberty of embedding below as well.