Fans came to Hall H on Friday afternoon to respect the authori-tah of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who marked the upcoming 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking animated Comedy Central series with a Comic-Con Q&A.
Not a butt-ton of intel was downloaded about the upcoming 20th season, which will kick off this September (but perhaps that’s not surprising, given their penchant for starting episodes just six days before they air). They did, however, spin some amusing anecdotes about Colorado’s boys of bedlam while reflecting on the previous 19 seasons of 267 episodes, and 538,921 Cartman outbursts. They also sneaked a peek at the video game South Park: The Fractured But Whole, which will be released later this year. (For those interested in a fully immersive experience, the show is staging a three-day exhibition outside the San Diego Convention Center that features life-sized recreations of 20 iconic South Park scenes that visitors can walk through. The network also announced a traveling South Park exhibit curated by artist Ron English.)
Here are your highlights from the panel:
• The session opened with a fake-fuzzy commercial, “We’ve Been There” (above), which featured a montage of Daddy’s little girl growing up while watching outrageous South Park moments, while a narrator earnestly explained how the show had “been there” for her, for you, and all the “theres” they’d been. (The scene with Tom Cruise going into the closet was accompanied by this line: “We went there and didn’t even get sued.”) Moderator Chris Hardwick introduced a high-octane highlight reel from the show’s first 19 seasons, which marked the show’s accomplishments through stats: 1714 characters, 200 fights, 49 Cartman dumps, 18 Randy arrests, 84 Stan vomits, 6 anal probes, and 2 Garrison sex changes.
• Asked how they managed to keep the show pure in an industry run by lawyers and marketing teams, the duo noted they’ve had “a couple run-ins here and there with Comedy Central, but that the network has been great and allowed them for the most part to do what they want. And the show’s tight deadlines work in their favor, too. “We basically created this thing where we think of a show on Thursday and it goes on the air Wednesday,” said Parker. “So not only did we realize that the energy of that was really important, but it also is great because when the network calls on Monday and says, ‘Hey, we just saw this scene and you can’t do it,’ it’s like, ‘Well, dude, the show goes on the air in two days! What are you going to do?’ Like it’s their fault… It works all the time. It’s pretty awesome.”
• Their deadline structure also led to one of their most stressful production experiences. After going right from the big-screen puppet action-adventure movie Team America into season 8, they were burned out but somehow made it through the entire season until being stumped by writers’ block for the final and 14th episode. They didn’t start figuring out what the episode was until Saturday, allowing for only four days to produce the installment, and the idea they started with was a Christmas blood orgy with critters. Hours before the episode, “Woodland Critter Christmas,” was to air, they decided that to fill a plot hole, they would have one of the critters get an abortion so the savior could be born, and everything snapped into place. “That show in particular is one that just was a mess until the last second, and actually watching it we were like, ‘Wow, we really figured it out,” said Stone. “Sometimes the last second stuff looks the most thought-out.” He also noted that any time they would map out extra time to work on an episode, those installments were always the worst ones.
• They referenced the “Simpsons Already Did It” episode, which was based on their true frustrating experiences in the writers’ room coming up with a cool idea only to find out it had been done by The Simpsons. But what has happened in the last two years many times is, they’ll brainstorm a promising idea and then after a few hours someone will say, “Somebody already did this,” and then they’ll realize: South Park did that 10 years ago. And then we’ll watch it and we’re like, ‘That’s really funny!’,” said Parker.
• Hardwick asked the guys if they were going to do another “Chinpokomon” episode, and Parker noted that people have been asking that question about Pokémon Go, given its crazy popularity. His response: “We did it in 1999! Because we did an episode called ‘Chinpokomon’ where the kids were just buying dolls and the dolls had a chip in them that could track where the kids were, and send all the information to Japan so that they could control America and bomb Pearl Harbor. They ripped off our f—in’ thing! So we’re suing them for our f—king ideas!”
• They acknowledged they are old now, and that is why Stan’s father, Randy, has become a big character. They’re drawing from their own stories for him, and it’s helped dimensionalize the town. “I remember in the first five, even 10 years, I’d do Randy and I’d go into the booth to record him, and I’d do an impersonation of my dad. And now I just do my voice,” Parker said.
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• Parker, who grew up as a big Dungeons & Dragons fan, says serving as the Dungeon Master helped shape his storytelling abilities later in life. He revealed that two months ago, he played D&D with Elon Musk. “That was really fun,” he said. “And the best part of it was, I was like, ‘We shouldn’t spend a lot of time doing character creation because we were going to start at level 1, and… I was just emailing him and I was like, ‘If you just want to tell me what race and class you want to be, I’ll do the sheets so we can just get to playing and maybe 20 seconds later an email came back: ‘Human Paladin.'”
• During the audience Q&A, a woman wearing no shirt and tape over nipples asked if they would do an episode on the Free the Nipple movement. “Yes,” announced Parker. “We weren’t, and now we are. The entire next season will be Free the Nipple season.”
• Asked by a fan if they would have the American doppleganger version of Donald Trump on this season after killing Canadian Donald Trump last season, Stone joked, “You mean Mr. Garrison?” The guys admitted they didn’t see the Trump campaign gaining momentum and were just hoping at the time to get in some laughs about him before that was over. “We were worried that it was going to be one of those episodes you look back and go, ‘Why did you do a whole episode about that?’ We were more worried about that.” Added Parker: “Unfortunately we’ve already raped and killed him,” referring to the Canadian Donald Trump.
• When a fan asked if they would get around to making another South Park movie, Stone answered: “Someday we might do another South Park movie, but right now, like Trey said, all we can think about is: We have 10 shows to do this fall.” (They also noted they thought the show was coming to an end when they approached the first movie: “We thought at that time, ‘Well, the South Park thing is about to end, it’s been a couple years, it’s dying out, so we’ll do this big movie as this big final South Park thing,” recalled Parker.)
• The pair say they are excited that the soon-to-be-released video game South Park:The Fractured But Whole — a sequel to 2014’s The Stick of Truth that features the kids as role-playing superheroes — allows you to play as a woman, a feature that Stick of Truth did not allow. It took them awhile “narratively” to figure out how to make that work. And they are activated by the video game side of the franchise now that the xBox 360 technology is strong enough to make it feel like that players are actually inside of a South Park episode.
• Other newsflashes: PC Principal will appear in season 20. And: “We might kill Kenny some this season,” said Stone. “We kinda stopped doing that.” It was fun to do for awhile, they explained, but then it “got to be like homework.” But we could do that again.” Oh my god!
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