Best of RAH96 Humor Review:
by Dave Bealer
Copyright © 1997 Dave Bealer, All Rights Reserved.
"The following program contains coarse language and due to its
content it should not be viewed by anyone." So reads the final line
of the disclaimer which opens each episode of Comedy Central's new
animated series, South Park.
No doubt many prudes will agree entirely with that statement. But
anyone with a mind open to aggressive, raunchy humor will love South
Park. The brainchild of Colorado natives Trey Parker and Matt Stone,
South Park features the warped shenanigans of four third grade boys,
their families, friends, and the other inmates of the town of South
The issues faced by the denizens of the small Rocky Mountain town of
South Park include alien abductions, genetic engineering, celebrity
worship, assisted suicide, natural disasters, and domestic violence.
In short, many of the things that make life in the nineties
interesting for everyone.
Stan Marsh is the leader of the South Park boys. This eight-year-old
has more than the usual set of third grade troubles, what with his
dog, Sparky, who happens to be gay, his 102-year-old grandfather who
wants to die, and his older sister, Shelley, who beats him up at
Kyle Broslovsky is Stan's Jewish friend, who is clever and somewhat
sensitive to the fact that his religion makes him different. Kyle
has a kid brother named Ike who looks like a football and performs
like one during games of "Kick the Baby." Kyle's mom is a busybody
whose PMS-induced tantrums make life miserable for everyone.
Eric Cartman is the fat kid in this group. Cartman is senstive
about his size, and claims to be "big boned." The reason for
Cartman's excess weight is no secret. His mother is overprotective
and feeds him anything he wants, including "Powdered Donut Pancake
Surprise" as an afterschool snack. Although all these boys have
foul mouths, the spoiled brat Cartman is the foulest, loudest, and
most obnoxious of all.
Kenny McKormick is the real oddball of this quartet. Short for his
age, Kenny constantly wears a hooded jacket. The hood muffles his
voice so we can't hear what he's saying, although the other South
Park residents can apparently understand him. Actually, it's probably
for the best that we can't tell exactly what Kenny is saying, since
he seems to be the primary third grade source of perverted knowledge.
Kenny's other main distinguishing feature is that he spends part of
every episode dead. He manages to get shot, microwaved, run over,
trampled, decapitated, or impaled at some point in each episode.
The major cliche line from this series will likely be "Oh my God!
They killed Kenny!" (If South Park takes off, this could well become
the "He's dead, Jim" of the late nineties.) Fortunately Kenny's body is
always carried off by "the rats," and he reappears in perfect health
in the next episode. He might be related to Wile E. Coyote.
The four heroes (or anti-heroes, if you prefer) are supported by
several interesting characters: Mr. Garrison is their ditzy third grade
teacher, whose alter ego is "Mr. Hat", a hand puppet through which
Mr. Garrison communicates his rage. Chef (whose voice is provided by
Issac Hayes) is the elementary school cafeteria chef, who likes to sing
sexually explicit songs to the children. Wendy Testaburger
is the bright third grade girl who is also Stan's puppy love
interest. The mayor of South Park happens to be a vain, self-serving,
clueless woman, who surrounds herself with bootlicking toadies.
Uncle Jimbo is Stan's uncle, who possesses an elementary school
education and owns the local gun shop. (It's nice to see that
the creators of this show avoided cliche character types.)
The Spirit of Creativity
Other than the biting edginess of the humor, the main distinguishing
feature of South Park is the animation, which employs a technique
similar to claymation, except that clay figures are replaced with
construction paper cutout characters. One result of this is that an
episode of South Park costs 75% less to produce than a equivalent
episode of a classical animated show like "The Simpsons."
South Park is the direct descendent of a 5 minute animated short film
produced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone as a "Christmas card" for a
Fox network executive back in 1995. The obscenely hilarious "The
Spirit of Christmas" featured the four pint sized heroes of South
Park, who witness a martial arts battle between Jesus and Santa Claus
over the meaning of Christmas. This short film, which even the two young
creators were afraid to put their names on because of its controversial
nature, became a huge underground success, being dubbed and passed
around by thousands of people all around the country.
Inevitably "The Spirit of Christmas" was scanned into computer format,
and is widely available on the internet. The
Official Distribution Site contains links to many sites which
carry the files (as well as many South Park sites). Note that "The
Spirit of Christmas" is a very large download. The Quicktime version
is a 53 megabyte file.
Comedy Central is showing South Park at 10 PM (Eastern Time) on
Wednesday nights. Reruns are showing up at various times late at
night. Check your local listings for the showtimes in your area.
Six episodes of the program currently exist, with the next new
episode scheduled for broadcast around Halloween. A total of
thirteen episodes have been ordered for the first season. Comedy
Central also maintains an
official South Park website.
South Park is most definitely not for everyone, but if you think
a combination of The Simpsons and The Blues Brothers would be
attractive, South Park is worth watching at least once.
Dave Bealer is a fifty-something mainframe systems programmer who
works with CICS, z/OS and all manner of nasty acronyms at one of the
largest heavy metal shops on the East Coast. He shares a waterfront
townhome in Pasadena, MD. with a cat who annoys him endlessly as he
assiduously avoids writing for and publishing Random Access Humor.
Dave can be reached via e-mail at:
A Bugless Program is an Abstract Theoretical Concept.