South Park creators: who are Trey Parker and Matt Stone, why did they create animated sitcom, who do they play

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Trey Parker and Matt Stone created hit animated sitcom South Park after a TV executive discovered a short film they had made at university

South Park has become one of the most popular animated adult series since it first debuted 25 years ago - older than Family Guy, American Dad!, and Futurama, the series continues to push the boundaries of comedy. South Park is known for lampooning well-known celebrities, from Caitlyn Jenner to Mel Gibson - the most recent victims are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who were parodied in the latest episdoe, The World-Wide Privacy Tour.

The show has courted controversy over the years - in November 2001, the first episode released after the 9/11 attacks was released, titled Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants. Earlier in that season, the episode Super Best Friends aired and featured a depiction of Mohammed, provoking outrage among some viewers.

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Despite the many controversies, South Park has managed to stay relevant through the years, and has launched a film and several video game spin-offs. Episodes are usually written and produced a week before they air, meaning that episodes are generally topical. The show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, continue to write and star in the series.

Who are Trey Parker and Matt Stone?

Trey Parker is a 53 year old filmmaker from Colorado - he studied film and Japanese at the University of Colorado where he met Matt Stone, who had also grown up in Colorado and was studying maths and film (he took maths to appease his father who wanted him to study something practical).

The pair shared tastes in comedy, both being fans of the British absurdist comedy troupe Monty Python. They worked on several films together during their time at university although most have since been lost.

South Park is an American animated sitcomSouth Park is an American animated sitcom
South Park is an American animated sitcom | Comedy Central

They founded a production company, Avenging Conscience, and produced the horror comedy film Alferd Packer: The Musical, starring Parker, about a gold miner whose taste for gold was replaced by one for human flesh. The video rights were sold to Troma Entertainment, who renamed the film Cannibal! The Musical - it has since become a cult classic.

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The Pair went on to create South Park, and both Parker and Stone provide the voices for the majority of the roles. Parker voices Eric, Stan, Randy, Mr. Garrison, and several other smaller roles.

Stone provides the voice of Kyle, Kenny, Butters, and several others. The majority of female roles are voiced by Mona Marshall and April Stewart.

How was South Park made?

South Park has its beginnings in early in 1992 - Trey Parker and Matt Stone met in their film class at the University of Colorado, Boulder where they made a short film that contained characters similar to those later featured in South Park.

The 4 minute short film, The Spirit of Christmas features four children, who look like early drafts of Kenny, Kyle, Cartman, and Stan, who build a snowman that comes to life and threatens to destroy their town.

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Trey Parker and Matt StoneTrey Parker and Matt Stone
Trey Parker and Matt Stone | Getty

The only named child in the short, Kenny, is immediately killed by the monster - this is a theme continued in South Park as Kenny has died 98 times in the series. The three surviving children turn to Santa for help, but he is revealed to be a monster and kills another of the children.

The two remaining children then approach the baby Jesus who defeats the snowman and saves Christmas. A FOX executive saw the short and asked Trey and Parker to make another - the pair made the five minute short Jesus vs. Santa in 1995.

The second short became one of the first viral videos, being shared widely online and generating a buzz which eventually led to the first series of South Park being commissioned.

The first episode of South Park, titled Cartman Gets an Anal Probe, aired on 28 March 1998 and set the tone for the series with its shocking humour, bad language, and the method of animating the show using construction paper.

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How many seasons of South Park are there?

The series is now in its 26th season, with more than 300 episodes having aired so far. The majority of the seasons are made up of standalone episodes, but from season 18 the show became more serialised, with continuity between episodes. A feature-length film, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was released in 1999.

Season 24 consisted of four extended pandemic special episodes airing in 2020 and 2021. Two special episodes, titled The Streaming Wars aired at the end of season 25 to coincide with the launch of Paramount+, which now hosts the series.

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