Stephen Sondheim, Elton John skewered on 'South Park'
Before their brilliantly un-PC musical Book of Mormon opened on Broadway and transformed them into Tony winners, co-authors Trey Parker and Matt Stone paid a visit to The Late Show with David Letterman. While there, Letterman joked to the duo about their show, “I think I just heard Eugene O’Neill turn over in his grave.” (Funnily enough, that sound bite has been used as a selling point in ads for the sold-out-until-the-end-of-time show.)
Of course, if their deliriously offensive musical didn’t make O’Neill do that yet, last night’s South Park probably did. The Broadway-themed episode — titled “Broadway Bro-Down,” which was co-written by Parker and Stone’s Book of Mormon collaborator Robert Lopez — suggested that not only do the toe-tapping shows we all know and love have subtext that makes women, er, perform for their dates, but that said shows are written by a bunch of high-fiving, beer-guzzling chauvinists. Those chauvinists being Broadway legends like Stephen Sondheim, Elton John, and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Of course, it’s not that obviously ridiculous notion that might have some fans singing an unhappy tune. (Though, admittedly, we may never listen to Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, and South Pacific the same way ever again.) It’s that the episode may have simply felt outdated. Sure, the show basically served as a reminder to go see Book of Mormon (or at least, try your hardest to snag a ticket), but the episode took a big potshot at the consistently lampooned Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. At one point during “Broadway Bro-Down,” Randy dresses up as Spider-Man to save his daughter Shelly from making it to the end of Wicked. Before heading into the theater, Randy declares, “It’s time to put an end to Broadway, once and for all!” Watch the VERY NSFW moment below:
So was the moment a hilarious send-up of the disastrous early run of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, or did it feel like a bit of a low — forgive me — blow, to make fun of a show that Book of Mormon has all but mopped the floor with in reviews, ticket sales, and Tonys? But, speaking of Broadway face-offs, outdated or not (the show also finally got around to making fun of Vegans in the episode), the whole thing was worth watching for a bro-ed out scuffle between Sondheim and Randy. Again, VERY, VERY NSFW, but hilarious, none the less. Watch:
I’m a firm believer that South Park doesn’t always have to be topical to work. In fact, some of my favorite episodes of the show have been when they don’t skewer what’s current (for instance, “Casa Bonita” or “Stanley’s Cup”). But the line got a little blurred here. The episode could have just been a one-off about Broadway and worked just fine, but by bringing Spider-Man — a show that’s been out of the spotlight for a while now — into the mix, it felt somewhat outdated.
What did you think of the episode, PopWatchers? Did the episode feel a little outdated or was it too funny for you to even care? Should Parker and Stone even have a beef with Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark? (I mean, Phil Collins didn’t even write it!) Or does that show deserved to be mocked for as long as it runs? (Hey, Cats is still a go-to punchline!) Share in the comments section below, bro.