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 US Comedy Festival 


MATT STONE :Creator, "South Park"

TREY PARKER: Creator, "South Park"

DEBBIE LIEBLING: Vice President, West Coast Development & Production, Comedy Central Executive Producer, "South Park"

JEFF THORSEN: Please welcome the Comedy Central Vice President of West Coast Development and Production, and the executive producer of "South Park," Debbie Liebling. (applause)

DEBBIE LIEBLING: Hi, welcome. Two years ago when I arrived at the Aspen festival, I had just closed a deal with two very unassuming guys for a pilot based on a very insane short entitled "The Spirit of Christmas." (applause)

At the time, Trey Parker and Matt Stone could barely afford parking to get out of our office building. And as we walked around the festival, all of us at Comedy Central were pretty confident that this show would be hilarious. And we were hopeful it might draw a little bit of attention to the channel. But none of us had any idea it would become the pop cultural phenomenon that it has, and that Trey and Matt would be the subject of a panel here two years later sharing the bill with 50 many other cultural icons. But clearly, through their hard work and vision, they've earned it. Before they join us today, I just want to tell you a little bit about what we're going to do. We're going to show a few early films that they did, early animation that illiterates the evolution of a comedic and visual style that's culminated in "South Park." Three animated pieces. Trey and Matt will then join us for an audience Q&A. We'll open the floor for questioning. And we'll close the program with a half-hour pilot, the original animated pilot they did for Comedy Central, with some scenes that they've never aired before. So you'll be in for some treats. (applause) The first piece we're going to see today is entitled "American History," and this is the first animation that Trey Parker ever did. He did it as a student in 1991 at Colorado University, in a class on animation. And he waited until the last minute, so he had to resort to construction paper cutouts. And hence, a style was born. (laughter) After that, we'll see, "The Spirit of Christmas," also known as "Frosty." And that's not the "Spirit of Christmas" you're familiar with. This one is actually the first collaboration between Matt and Trey. And again it was for an animation class at CU, in which they thought it would be funny to see -- put synch-sound lips on construction paper characters. In this one, you really, really see the early beginnings of some of the characters and tone that have emerged in the series. And the third thing we'll see is "The Spirit of Christmas" which most of you are familiar with. The history of that, if you don't know, was a Fox executive -- then Fox executive -- Brian Graydon (sp) -- commissioned it for a mere $1,200 or so as a joke for a Christmas card to show some of his industry friends. And it took off like wildfire. It was bootlegged across the country became a cult phenomenon and launched the careers of these two guys. So, before they join us, let's roll some tape. (applause) (CLIPS SHOWN: "AMERICAN HISTORY," "THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS" PROJECT, "THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS") (applause)

LIEBLING: It's pretty remarkable they've been able to top that 13 weeks in a row -- well, not in a row, but 13 episodes anyway. In the past eight months since "South Park" premiered on Comedy Central, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have accomplished more than most people dream of in an entire career. As if producing, writing, directing, drawing and voicing a hit series weren't enough, I'd just like to take you through a little laundry list of some of their other activities. They just completed a live-action feature called "Orgazmo," which premiered at Sundance last month. It's being released this summer by October Films. It was written and directed by Trey, produced by Matt, and both men star in the picture. They are currently writing the pre-quel to "Dumb & Dumber," for New Line Cinema. They are co-starring in "BASEketball," a Zucker brothers film being released this summer by Universal, in which you'll get to see them kiss Yasmine Bleeth and Jenny McCarthy, respectively. (laughter) They're in talks to do a "South Park" feature. They are producing a "South Park" soundtrack album. They perform in their own rock band around L.A. The band is called DVDA, if you get to catch them. "South Park" was on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. They appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," won a CableACE Award for Best Animated Series, and just last week, the prestigious NOVA Award from the Producers Guild of America, for most promising producers in television. And their favorite football team, the Denver Broncos, won the Super Bowl this year. (cheers/applause) And that's just their first year of show business. Some people call them lucky, but success like that doesn't really come from luck, except maybe kissing Yasmine and Jenny. The rest of it really comes from hard work, incredible talent and the dedication and commitment to their vision. And having worked with them everyday for the last two years, I can attest that that is the equation. They work around the clock, paying attention to every detail on the show, both on-air and off-air. They're prolific writers. They believe in their choices and they stand by them. And the honesty and integrity that you see in their work is there because that's the honesty and integrity in their characters. So please welcome back to their home state, where there really is a South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. (applause) You're very welcome.

MATT STONE: A little country kitchen setting. Hi, welcome to the Trey and Matt show. (laughter)

LIEBLING: Can we turn the lights up so people can ask some questions? Anybody have questions to start?

TREY PARKER: Well, first of all, you know, sorry you all came, but Matt and I are actually really boring people. (laughter) So you're trapped.

STONE: Everybody expects us to do "South Park Live" or something. (laughter)

LIEBLING: Well, I can start. Why don't you guys tell us a little bit about how you met and got together and how you launched this partnership?

STONE: Well, it was love, I think.

PARKER: Yeah, we met at -- we both went to the University of Colorado in Boulder. (applause) Yeah, they kicked me out. (laughter) I got kicked out. But we met in film school. They had just started the film school there. And so that's where we met. And we were doing lots of short, stupid things like the ones they showed. And we met and, you know--

STONE: We were like the two people who were into comedy and doing, like, weird little films that weren't like black-and-white lesbian, like, sexual exploration pieces. And so we kind of -- we were kind of thrown together because we were the only two who wanted to not do -- you know, not be Martin Scorsese.

PARKER: And we were the only two guys in film school that cared about the Buffs and, you know, the Broncos.

STONE: Yeah, we liked sports and didn't drink a lot of coffee. (laughter)

PARKER: So are a lot of people here from Colorado? Is this like a big Colorado--? (applause/cheer.) Just have to say, Matt and I, because of this -- thanks to Comedy Central, we were, like, 50-yard line, tenth row at the Super Bowl.

STONE: Yeah, it warn the greatest day of my whole life by far.

PARKER: It was so awesome. (laughter) To just get kicked in the nuts like that every year, and then finally be at the one that they win was just the best. We were crying and s***. It was great. (laughter)

LIEBLING: You guys want to talk about some of the influence in your comedy, both music and comedic, because music plays a very big role in your work as well?

PARKER: Well, part of the reason we're psyched to be here is because, as we've said in every interview, our biggest influence is "Monty Python." (applause) And I think, you know, I remember that was the show -- it was like Thursdays at 10:00 at night, being in third and fourth grade and watching that show, and not even getting a lot of it, but just knowing it was really funny. (laughter) And it was the same with -- I think that's why Matt and I hit it off so well is because we had this very big "Python" background.

STONE: Still to this day when our heads are getting a little big, if we go and put on an old "Flying Circus" or something, you just watch that and you're like--

PARKER: We suck.

STONE: --what the hell are we doing. (laughter) Yeah, so we do that every once in a while to check ourselves.

LIEBLING: And you were going to talk about music a little bit, because there's so much music in your work, in both "South Park" and your film, "Cannibal: The Musical," which actually played here yesterday. I don't know if some of you got it, but there's clearly a love of musical theater that--

STONE: Yeah, we both, before we were in film or anything, we were both musicians. Like I play drums and bass and guitar, and Trey can play piano like a son of a bitch. And that's like -- so when it came around to do the show -- I mean, you can go back to "Cannibal" -- but when it came around to do the show, I mean part of the reason we wanted Chef to sing songs was so we could just have a musical element to the show, you know.

PARKER: It's our favorite part when we get to that part of the script and we're recording where it's like, okay, Chef sings. We just sit down and start playing it, and we send it to Isaac, and it's great. Because we're playing for Isaac. It's really cool.

STONE: Yeah.

LIEBLING: Talk about some of the characters in "South Park." I know some of them represent real people in your live, or amalgamations of real people and real experiences you've had.

PARKER: I think that, you know, when we started talking about this show, even when we were doing the shorts, you know, it was like there was always a leader kid, there was always -- but what we realized -- Matt and I didn't grow up together, but we both were talking about -- we had this one fat kid. You know, it was like, oh, everyone had the fat kid, or "at one time I was the fat kid" -- and then it was -- and you always had the poor kid, you know, who died every week. (laughter) And so it was just sort of a very -- it started off a very cliché group of boy friends that just sit around and cuss at each other. And, you know, that's what's been the most fun for me about "South Park," has been Cartman, because to see him grow from --you know, in "Spirit of Christmas," he's just a big fat f*** (laughter) that, you know, that just bitches a lot. And to go from that to him having a tea party (laughter) with his stuffed animals and doing their voices and stuff, has bean great.

STONE: Yeah, Cartman has just become a force of nature. That guy has gotten so complex. (laughter)

PARKER: That's why when people are saying, you know, are you worried you're going to run out of ideas, you know, it's just like the way we've set Cartman, we need 20 years to explain that guy. (laughter)

STONE: Yeah, but it's like every situation we think of, it's like --oh, one of the boys do this or go to the White House or whatever -- it's always if you think about Cartman in that situation, material just starts like throwing itself at you, you know.

QUESTION: Who is Cartman's dad?

PARKER: Oh, it's -- oh, you almost got me. (laughter) We'll find out in April.

STONE: We'd have to kill everybody in the room if we were to say it. (laughter)

QUESTION: How did you get kicked out of college?

PARKER: I got kicked out because we made "Alfred Packer, Cannibal: The Musical." I mean, it wasn't because I made it. It was because I made it and didn't go to any of my classes because I was making that movie. (laughter) But it was a real -- we were in film school. I was engaged to be married. I was, like, 21. You know, because I was, like, a small mountain town boy. You know, you get married when you're 21. And she totally dumped me. Totally dumped me on my ass, right? And I just -- it was like, I'm going to make a movie, I'm going to make a movie. And we went -- and I went to Matt, and we read, like, every book we could find on how to make a movie and how to get money for it. And it was all a big joke. I mean, everyone in the film school was like, right, you guys are going to get $125,000. And what we did was we went and made -- for like 300 bucks, we went and shot a preview of the movie. And then we went around to rich people and said, "We need finishing money." Like this movie is almost done, we're so close, here's the preview. And they saw the preview and go, oh, that's really funny, here's some finishing money. And all of a sudden, like, two months later, we had $125,000. And it was the same as the "South Park" phenomenon. We were both just like "how did we do this?!" But it was in the middle of the semester. And so I had a choice to either, you know, go spend this money and make a movie or stay in class. And I made the movie.

QUESTION: What's she think of you now? (laughter/applause)

PARKER: I invited her to come see me on "The Tonight Show." (laughter) And she came. (laughter)

QUESTION: Do you guys actually write dialogue for Kenny?

PARKER: Yeah, usually.

STONE: Yeah, a lot of times in the script, it just says, you know, mmph-mmph-mmph." But when it comes around to it, you always have a line in mind that, you know, needs to fit there.

PARKER: And sometimes it's a little too clear and we have to do it over.

STONE: Yeah, yeah. He always says something.

QUESTION: Could you do a voice for us?

PARKER: Who do you went?

QUESTION: Cartman.

PARKER: Oh, jeez. (as Cartman) "You son of a bitch, I'll kick you in the nuts!" (laughter/applause)

QUESTION: Matt and Trey, I notice that religion seems to play an important part in the comedy series. And I'm just wondering what is at the root of all that, between the two of you?

STONE: Well, religion is funny. (laughter)

PARKER: Wait a minute, this whole thing is a room? I thought that was a mirror the whole time.

STONE: No, that goes -- that's why I've been spacing out.

PARKER: I didn't know there was this many people. Whoa.

STONE: When we walked in originally, they showed us the room, it ended right there.

PARKER: Oh, my god.

STONE: So that's why when I walked out, it was like--

PARKER: Holy s***, there's a lot of people in here! (laughter)

STONE: I got a big laugh! (laughter)

PARKER: Religion.

QUESTION: I have a question for you.

STONE: Oh, wait, we've got to answer the religion question.

QUESTION: (off mike/inaudible)

PARKER: Why is that so funny? I think that it's just because it's so not something you make fun of. And, you know, to us. part of what we loved about "Python" was when they were saying stuff that if you said in school you got smacked in the mouth. And that you -- what was so funny about it is like, oh, you're not supposed to make fun of that, are you? And so, immediately you make -- just Jesus made out of construction paper is funny. (laughter) You know, it's like we didn't even have to have him say anything. And I remember when we were doing "Spirit of Christmas," and I cut him out and I'm laughing the whole time. (laughs) I showed it to Matt and we're just like, "Huh-huh-huh!" (laughter) You know, it's just inherently funny.

STONE: I mean, look at "Life of Brian," like going back to "Monty Python." Just that movie is like -- somebody told me they originally wanted to name it, like, "Jesus Christ: Lust For Glory." (laughter) And they wouldn't let them do it. It's just great, man. It's hilarious.

QUESTION: (inaudible)


QUESTION: I have a question for you. Since I live with Cartman, which makes me the "Bitchbitchbitch," will there be a cattle call, so to speak, for this feature movie that y'all are working on?

STONE: Oh, it's an animated feature, is that what you're asking

PARKER: Well, is there going to be -- are we going to have other people do voices, is that what you mean?

QUESTION: I got the impression in the beginning that maybe you were talking about like live characters.

STONE: Oh, no, it'll be animated.

PARKER: Yeah, it'll definitely be animated.

STONE: It would be fun to find a real Cartman. We should do like a search for the real Cartman. (laughter)

PARKER: Because it's actually -- what we're really excited about with the movie is that we're going to do it all on construction paper. Because what's cool, like all this stuff, we only had the money to go right back to video. So we shot it on film -- and Matt and I have seen "Spirit of Christmas" projected, the 35-mm prints, and it's gorgeous. I mean, it's like the detail of the construction paper is really cool. (laughter) So when we went to Paramount, we said we've got to do this on construction paper. (laughter)

QUESTION: What does "Shpedoinkle" (sp) mean?


QUESTION: "Shpedoinkle." (sp)

PARKER: "Shpedoinkle?" (sp)

QUESTION: Yeah, what does that exactly mean?

PARKER: It means everything and nothing. There's a word in "Alfred Packer," in "Cannibal" -- everyone says "Shpendoinkle" (sp) all the time. And it is -- I don't know, it's like "tootsie bars" and "cheesy poofs," you know. We just make up words just for the hell of it.

QUESTION: You guys, with everything that you have been able to do, what in the hell have you not been able to do on television?

PARKER: Get chicks. (laughter)

STONE: We wanted to do an episode with the Nation of Islam, a whole episode about that. (audience reacts) And Comedy Central wouldn't let us do it. Not because -- I mean, they were like fine with the humor and fine with all that, but they just, you know, feared that they would get bombed and we would get lynched. So...

PARKER: So we're going to do it in the Fall. (laughter)

STONE: Now we've got a little more clout, maybe we'll be able to do it.

QUESTION: How did you get Primus to do the opening?

PARKER: That was actually -- that was one of the coolest parts, because we got approached to do the show. And again, we had done pilots before, so we were kind of like -- we had had small bits of money thrown at us to do stuff, and we knew that it might not go anywhere. But we were like, you know, we need a theme song. And Matt and I were just huge Primus fans in college. And we said, maybe we could get them to do the theme song? And it was like now why would they do that, they're not going to do that. And so we just -- it was a shot in the dark. We sent them "Spirit of Christmas." And we were sitting around. We had a really tiny, crappy office, and we had one production assistant. And she just came in like three days later and she's, like, "Matt, Les Claypool is on line one." And we're both just like -- (gasps). (laughter)

STONE: Freaked out.

PARKER: And I've never seen Matt so, like -- he's just on the phone going, "Yeah, yeah, that's killer." (laughter)

STONE: Freaked out, yeah.

PARKER: And they were into it. They were into it.

STONE: Yeah, they were totally into it.

PARKER: So it was great. It was really cool. Between that and Isaac, I mean, it was actually pretty easy. You know, Isaac was our first choice, and he just said he'd do it. So it was cool.

QUESTION: Trey, I got hold of an advance copy of "Orgazmo." And Rick Lynch got it for me. And I'm just wondering, where did you learn the karate for that movie?

PARKER: I actually studied Tae Kwon Do from the time I was, like, 12 until I was about 22. So it was -- that's what it was.

QUESTION: I saw you kick Ron Jeremy's ass.

PARKER: Yeah. (laughs) (laughter)

QUESTION: Have you ever -- on the Internet, there's a lot of scripts for the episode. of "South Park" floating around. Have you ever seen those, and what they are claiming is what Kenny is actually saying?


STONE: Yeah, we've seen them.

PARKER: And nine times out of ten, they're wrong.

STONE: Yeah, it's wrong.

PARKER: But, you know, and it's so funny, I mean, the things that on the Internet they'll catch. I mean, they catch stuff we don't, for sure. And they -- you know, they'll say this meant this, and when they said that it meant this. And especially with the whole Cartman's father thing, they're like, "Well, I went through it frame by frame and there actually is another townsperson in the background." Which was just a f***-up on our part. (laughter) But of course now we're going to make it huge. You know, we'll play that up. And you know, what people will interpret, you know, is really funny.

QUESTION: How old are, like, Kyle and Cartman?

PARKER: They're supposed to be in third grade. So, eight-nine.

STONE: Yeah.

QUESTION: In Spin magazine, there's a part about the future of "South Park." How much of that is true?

PARKER: None of it. F*** Spin magazine. (laughter/applause)

STONE: That was -- they made every word of that up. We had no --everything that's in Spin--

PARKER: Everything that's in Spin--

STONE: And the cover, everything we had no input on.

PARKER: And that we were shooting porno. And, you know, we made a movie, "Orgazmo," that's about porno. I mean, it's a spoof on porno. And, you know, they got pissed off because we wanted the cover of Rolling Stone. And so they decided to release a cover at the same time to piss us off. And then they slanted all of the article.

STONE: So that's really the worst part. You know, we can take, you know, like, someone saying -- you know, someone parodying our show even is like -- okay, okay, we can take that, or whatever. But the fact that people think that those are the episodes that are coming out, that that's an a