In the “South Park” universe, “Donald Trump” is a former grade-school teacher that dated a sex slave and once brutally raped a different, Canadian version of “Donald Trump” to assert American dominance. With comedians routinely expressing frustration that the real Donald Trump is too hard to parody, “South Park” stands alone in knowing how to land jokes absurdist enough to make sense in this currently ultra-confusing country.
So it’s relatively joyful news that contrary to widely reported remarks the “South Park” creators made earlier this year, the duo will likely continue to make fun of the current president on the show.
Co-creator Trey Parker explained on “The Bill Simmons Podcast” that when they had said that Trump was too ridiculous to parody, they didn’t exactly mean “South Park” would stop doing so. At least in retrospect, Parker and co-creator Matt Stone claim they simply meant that the president should stop acting as ridiculous as them.
“A few months ago we did some interviews where we said, we’re just not going to make fun of ― you can’t make fun of Trump, he’s doing his own comedy, we can’t top his comedy.” said Parker. And people took it to mean, some people thought that we meant like, we’re going to back off of him because of other reasons.”
Parker went on to backtrack and explain the duo’s current thinking:
But it really was just whether it’s a troll or us or Trump, it’s pushing buttons and making people have this big reaction, there is some value to that, it is interesting, but i don’t think as a president it’s the best thing to have. I think it should be done by comedians. But that’s sort of what we were saying, we were like, leave the comedy to us.
“But that's sort of what we were saying, we were like, leave the comedy to us.”
Parker also had a perfect distillation of the challenge of parodying Trump.
If you have like a little monkey and it’s running himself into the wall over and over and you’re like, “That’s funny, but how am I gonna make fun of the monkey running himself into the wall?” I can discuss the monkey running himself into the wall, I can copy the monkey running into the wall, but nothing’s funnier than the monkey just running himself into the wall.
In the lengthy interview that went up May 3, the duo had much to say about Trump and how his election affected their show. They expressed that they still don’t want to focus too much of their show on Trump, but did not rule out the occasional storyline. They have yet to start writing new material for the next season.
“South Park” is known for creating their episodes from start to finish every single week. Apparently, the team behind the show created a whole episode about Hillary Clinton winning that they had to scrap with less than 24 hours before their typical Wednesday airtime. Here an excerpt transcribed by Simmons’ The Ringer where the duo talk about what that was like:
Bill Simmons: What were your options that night? So it’s Tuesday night, 8 o’clock, and you know you have to blow up that election show. What was on the table that you didn’t do?
Stone: Go black was what we talked about. [We talked about] airing the show as-is and just being like, “Here it is, it’s a document for history.” We called [former president of Viacom Music and Entertainment] Doug Herzog and said, “We can’t get the show done. It’s just really screwed up, and sorry.” And he was like, “I’m at The Daily Show, everyone’s crying, I’ll call you back,” or something like that. It was like, his world was like, everyone was coming to him saying, “We can’t do this tonight.”
We show up Thursday morning and start another one. No time to process.
Parker: We just got to the dry erase board and just started erasing shit and filling in and going, “How can we line this all up to make it make sense?” By 9:30 or 10 we kind of had it figured out. I think [Herzog] would have been OK with us just going black, but it was also nice for at least real die-hard South Park fans to see that everything was still [going]. Everyone was so shell-shocked and it was like you didn’t want to see that the world had changed. You wanted to be like, “OK, this horrible thing has happened, and [Trump] has been elected president, [but] South Park’s still on the air. The sun’s still rising. Water’s still clear.”
Stone: Other people had to get up and go to work. It just was like so self-indulgent to be like, “Ah, don’t know what to do.” It felt lame.
Listen to the whole episode here:
“South Park” may not want to be political. But as a part of Trump’s America, there’s currently no escaping mention of the giant looming elephant. It’s always been the “South Park” modus operandi to shoot spitballs at the day’s cultural figure of dominance. And for the time being, that’s Trump, every single week.