South Park has been around for a very, very long time, and at the show’s 20th season panel in Comic-Con’s Hall H, the discussion opened with a seemingly touching but subtly warped video that reminded the audience just how long the show has been on the air. So long that a proud father, one who welcomed his baby girl into the world the same time Comedy Central welcomed four foul-mouthed boys into ours, could know that she had grown into a young lady having been corrupted by nearly two decades worth of fart and poop jokes.
While the panel, hosted by our very own Chris Hardwick, started by looking back, it’s also clear Trey Parker and Matt Stone aren’t going anywhere soon, even if Parker swears that each year will be the last (“Middle of every season I’m like we’re f****ing done.”). Nor are they going to be easing up on their insane six-day from concept to air schedule they use to make new episodes.
That lightning speed production does have its benefits, beyond just being the method the two self-proclaimed procrastinators find most appealing. Creatively they say that when they try to take more time with an episode it ends up being terrible, whereas one of their best and funniest episodes, the “Woodland Critter Christmas,” came about when they were completely stuck on a final episode for the season, only coming up with the idea four days before air.
But even beyond the benefits they find from the creativity the production schedule generates, they said it also makes it harder for the network to cut anything. “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 the scene and you can’t do it,’ it’s like ‘But dude the show goes on the air in two days! What are you going to do!’ like it’s their fault.”
The freedom also extends to no longer feeling beholden to the idea of syndication, which allows them to tell season long stories like they did last year. The only thing that does hold them back is their own longevity, because when they try coming up with show ideas they can suddenly realize they already did that. They are now victims of their old “Simpsons did it!” joke.
Even that isn’t all bad though, like when they were asked about doing a new “Chinkpokomon” episode. “We did it in 1999,” said Parker, about their idea of a Japanese company coming up with a game that allowed them to track where every American child went, “They’ve ripped off our f***ing thing!” How many shows can say they anticipated a worldwide craze 17 years before it happened?
The two also talked a great deal about their complete and utter control over writing their game The Stick of Truth, as well as the next one, Fractured But Whole, because previous South Park games were awful.
There was some time to look back though, all the way to the start with their Christmas special that launched the show. They said they got paid 5,000 dollars to make it, but as Stone said, “We did it just as a one off, we didn’t know it would go anywhere.”
Well with their 20th season coming up it went somewhere, but that doesn’t mean they’re going anywhere soon.
What’s your favorite South park after 20 years? Tell us in the comments below.