Over 20 (soon to be 21) seasons of animated comedy, the creators of South Park have taken tremendous pride in skewering all celebrities, politicians and current events they find humor in — whether their targets are powerful politicians (Al Gore) religions (The Church of Scientology) or even their own Hollywood friends (George Clooney.) In terms of political comedy, the series has often held it’s willingness to mock both liberals and conservatives as a particular badge of honor.
But now, Trey Parker and Matt Stone are saying they’ll be backing off political satire after the election of Donald Trump.
The declaration, made in an ABC News interview with the two longtime collaborators, came in response to questions about whether the actions of the U.S. President (which have already inspired satirical takes from the likes of Mark Hamill and the stars of Pinky & The Brain) would be a further gift to comedy writers like themselves. Answering in the negative, Parker explained:
“They’re already going out and doing the comedy,” Parker adds. “It’s not something you can make fun of.”
“It’s tricky and it’s really tricky now as satire has become reality. We were really trying to make fun of what was going on [last season] but we couldn’t keep up. What was actually happening was way funnier than anything we could come up with. So we decided to just back off and let [politicians] do their comedy and we’ll do ours.”
Adding to the conversation, Stone added that “We’re having our head blown off like everybody else” in regard to their reactions to the new president. While South Park has long maintained its self-appointed stature as an equal-opportunity offender, in recent years the series has been increasingly criticized for what some saw as an overwhelming focus on liberal/progressive targets such as feminism, “political correctness” or safe-space anti-bullying efforts.
Trump himself did not appear as a regular character in the most recent season of the series, which has recently adopted serialized storylines as opposed to the previous more episodic format. Instead, the former reality television host was the basis for an alternate persona adopted by schoolteacher character Mr. Garrison during his own run for president. According to Parker and Stone, they had originally considered Trump’s election so unlikely that they were forced to rework their post-election episode at the last minute in order to include scenes where Garrison (as Trump) was sworn in as president.
South Park returns to Comedy Central in 2017.