It’s no secret that the past few seasons of South Park have been done on a schedule so tight that Japanese animation studios are jealous. It’s also no secret that such a schedule has taken its toll on Matt Stone and Trey Parker. The show’s current incarnation is an evolution (or devolution?) is an animated hybrid of Saturday Night Live and Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza. I have a suggestion to Matt & Trey that might revitalize their franchise, and possibly recharge their own creative batteries.
The commercial and critical success of The Book of Mormon is evidence that these two can still be creative and funny when they are given enough time and preparation. It also proves that they can collaborate with others. Since they are contractually obliged to Comedy Central to provide episodes, why don’t they farm out some of the writing? Why continue this practice of painting yourself in a corner and try to string out a story out of the current headlines? There must be hundreds of fanfic authors out there that would love to write a South Park script. It’s not like there’s going to be issues with canon or continuity. And I’m not suggesting giving up total creative control. With this new-found extra time, they can edit scripts if they deem it necessary. Such as spicing up the punch lines to make the jokes funnier. They’ve had 15 seasons to build character development. I think we all have a handle on Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman by now.
After three episodes, I give Season 15 of South Park a “C-.” In regards to making jokes on current events, SP is not as clever as SNL alumnus Norm MacDonald. It seems like that they are trying too hard to think of the first funny thing that pops in their head, which is the definition of improvisation. Even with well-experienced, talented players, improv TV is a tough sell (sorry Drew – I’m a big fan, but even I admit 2x a weeknight is a tad too much). Parker & Stone are multi-talented, but improv is not one of their skills. I understand why they are pushing themselves like this – it’s th $$$. But I fear that if they keep this up, they might pull a Dave Chappelle on Comedy Central, and burn themselves out completely. And that would be a great shame.