The Book of Mormon and the musical canon of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone (VIDEO).

Arts, entertainment, and more.
April 5 2011 2:20 PM

The Greatest Musical Satirists of Their Generation

The rude, hilarious, surprisingly sweet musical canon of Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Click here for a video slide show on the musical canon of Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

After weeks of successful previews, The Book of Mormon opened on Broadway last month to critical adulation and talk that it could be this season's smash hit. The early success of a vulgarity-laden musical from the creators of South Park should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Trey Parker and Matt Stone's previous collaborations. As Parker told Jon Stewart, in an  interview before the show's opening, the two have attempted to cram music into every project they've ever worked on—usually in the face of pushback from studio executives.

Their first film, Cannibal! The Musical—made while they were students at University of Colorado (where Parker majored in music)—evokes the cheerful optimism of Rodgers and Hammerstein while telling a gory comic fable about infamous man-eater Alferd Packer. The film version of South Park, which took the form of a musical despite the initial objections of Paramount, has one of the most memorable songbooks of any film made in the last 20 years, including the Oscar-nominated "Blame Canada" and a song that would later become the title of a Food Network program. Stone and Parker's last movie, Team America: World Police, included a diverse assortment of songs parodying everything from bombastic Broadway numbers, to clichéd rock power ballads, to overzealously patriotic country songs. South Park, meanwhile, has featured more than 150 songs, song parodies, and song snippets in its 14 seasons on Comedy Central.

Given this vast body of work, Parker and Stone might rightly be called the greatest musical satirists of their generation. And while much of their music is as crude as you'd expect from the creators of "Uncle Fucka," it's frequently cut with a surprising sweetness—a spoonful of sugar to help the profanity go down.

Advertisement

Jeremy Stahl is a Slate senior editor. You can follow him on Twitter.

 

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.