When your bread-and-butter is taking real life and bending it to parody, but suddenly, real life becomes parody, what do you do?
That is the conundrum the creators of Comedy Central’s long running animated hit, “South Park” were faced with, when Donald Trump became president.
They’d spent an entire season parodying the election, featuring character, Mr. Garrison, as the belligerent, outrageous Trumpian candidate, vying against the candidate called “Turd Sandwich” – Hillary Clinton.
While simultaneously taking on online trolls and real-life “trolls” in politics, you could almost see the absurdity unfolding in Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s minds. Namely, the absurdity that Donald Trump might actually win.
Stone and Parker were totally unprepared for the fact that Trump did win, and reports are that they had to rewrite the episode that immediately followed the election.
They ended their 20th season flabbergasted. How do you out-do reality that is beyond what you could have made up, on your own?
Well, according to a recent interview with Trey Parker, they’ve decided they won’t be dabbling in politics for the upcoming season. They’re getting back to the roots of the show.
Parker, who also voices several characters in the long-running satire, thought showrunners were falling into the “same trap” as “Saturday Night Live,” he tells the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Thursday. He didn’t want the show to turn into CNN, where viewers can just “tune in to see what we’re going to say about [President] Trump.”
“We probably could put up billboards — ‘Look what we’re going to do to Trump next week!’ — and get crazy ratings. But I just don’t care,” said Parker, who created the show with longtime collaborator Matt Stone.
“South Park” began in the mid-90s, and although its main characters, Kyle, Stan, Kenny, and Cartman were third graders in a small, Colorado town, the show is definitely not meant for children.
They haven’t shied away from taking on any topic, nor with skewering any side. They are equal opportunity offenders.
And the language – NOT kid-friendly.
The move to politics and more of a focus on the obnoxious adults featured on the program took them adrift from their roots, which had more to do with 4 kids with potty-mouths getting into various troubles.
Parker went on to say Trump was using “comedic art” to grab headlines and it won the election for him.
“The things that we do — being outrageous and taking things to the extreme to get a reaction out of people — he’s using those tools. At his rallies he gets people laughing and whooping,” he said.
And with that, Parker has said that Season 21 of “South Park,” which begins in August, will see a return to their roots. They don’t want to focus on Trump or politics.
They couldn’t do anything more outrageous than what Trump normally does, anyway.