“South Park” co-creator Trey Parker had plenty of anecdotes, insights and obscenities to share with an enthusiastic crowd Monday night.
When asked if he would prefer if “South Park” were not censored, he said he preferred the challenge of working within boundaries.
“Believe me, I’ve made a career out of censorship,” Parker said. “It’s great. It’s a lot more interesting to figure out where the line is and cross it.”
The event, “An Informal Conversation with Trey Parker,” was moderated by English Associate Professor Jeffrey Weinstock, and sponsored by the Central Michigan University Department of journalism.
“I think it was a complete success,” Weinstock said. “I think he really pleased the crowd.”
Parker was invited to CMU by a distant relative, journalism professor emeritus Elliot Parker.
Parker agreed to appear at CMU free of charge, and paid his own travel fees. He was accompanied by family and friends, including father Randy Parker and Eric Stough, the
“South Park” animation director, who Parker called the “real-life” Randy Marsh and Butters. Also Frank Agnone, a supervising producer for the show, came to join the
“I think it goes to show that he is devoted to his fan base, and he’s not the sort of person just out to make a dollar off his name,” said Saginaw senior Andrew Franks, regarding
Parker’s free appearance.
The journalism department paid for the use of Plachta Auditorium and the technical fees involved, as well as a reception at The Brass Café, 128 Main St., before his evening appearance.
“I would say, just in approximation, a couple thousand dollars,” said the department’s executive secretary, Cindy Gall, about how much the event cost the department.
Parker said his appearance at CMU was his first-ever speaking engagement at a university. In addition to the evening “Conversation,” Parker also held a question-and-answer
session earlier in the day for the College of Communication and Fine Arts.
The “Informal Conversation” began with Weinstock asking questions to Parker, including questions that were e-mailed to him prior to the event.
Parker cited the Scientology-themed “Trapped in the Closet” episode as one that was made significantly funnier, because Comedy Central censors would not allow them to use
their original ideas.
Weinstock asked Parker if there were any topics “South Park” wouldn’t tackle, and used the example of rape. Parker replied that they had already done that, referring to the
episode where George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg were depicted raping Indiana Jones.
“Stephen Spielberg’s son is a big ‘South Park’ fan, and there was a big ‘South Park’ premiere party at Stephen Spielberg’s house. And it was that (expletive) episode.”
Parker went on to say that he doesn’t think “South Park” ever takes a definitive stance one way or another on any issue.
“Hopefully it makes people think, but not ‘South Park said this so that’s what I think,’” he said. “So that’s what we try to do. This side thinks this, this side thinks this, what do
Parker said he has a problem with anybody who takes an extreme view on issues, saying that people like George W. Bush and Michael Moore are all the same to him.
“Extremists are extremists,” he said. “We’re all rational people, and we know the answer is somewhere in the middle, but the extremists are the ones that get on TV.”
Franks said he was happy to get the chance to see Parker.
“I thought it was extremely entertaining,” he said. “I was impressed that Trey was able to deal with the weightier issues of the show… while keeping a levity with his interactions
with the crowd.”
Parker said he enjoyed the event, but the experience was exhausting.
“It felt like I did an hour-and-a-half stand-up routine. I’m pretty (expletive) tired,” Parker said.