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South Park creator Trey Parker stops by CMU

“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
discussion.

“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
you think?”

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.

7 Comments

  1. This was fun, reminded me of “Inside the Actors Studio”. Should have more informal interviews like that.

    Some of the students questions were getting emabarssing though…

  2. I loved seeing Trey Parker! He was one of my FAB FIVE of celebrities I’v wanted to see or meet in person before I died. I’m so happy he came to CMU he was great. But yes, some of the student questions were stupid. Especially those who try to give him ideas for a show. If he really wanted your optionion he’d ask you for any ideas

  3. I hope you can release the video on DVD, like Kevin Smith does.

  4. Agreed, there is a reason he has a show that has been on the air this long. However, if you have a bunch of moronic insights and “ideas” for the show, NBC would probably hire you in a second.

  5. What I want to know and what is missing from the story is, why CMU? Besides that he was invited by “a distant relative”. I mean, the dude is from Colorado, and somehow you got not only him, but his “family and friends” to come along to Michigan to speak. HOW. That strikes me as odd, especially because you said it’s his first ever speaking appearance at a university (really?). And no offense, but he could have visited better colleges.

  6. CMU is so lucky!

    Trey Parker! Come to my school! (Northern Arizona University)

    There was a panel at my school earlier with some of the NAU professors about working in television and during the panel discussion one of them said “Pick your person. Pick someone to model your career after.”

    After the workshop I went to one of the panelists and said, “Trey Parker. Trey Parker is my person.”

    (The professor was like, “Who?” because this was really a panel on working in TV news…)

    But since then, they’ve indulged my desire to follow my “person”. In addition to my normal course load, I have been writing sketch on a regular basis.

    The work that Trey and Matt and the South Park team do is such an inspiration, and that’s what keeps me from getting distracted by silly thing like college. (JK! I’m doing very well in my studies, too!)

  7. I’m just happy they came to Michigan. It was nice to see.

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