South Park creators talk comedy

By Kevin Young
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have given a masterclass at the Edinburgh TV Festival, explaining the routine they follow to make their satirical animated comedy.
It's changed somewhat, but what's remained constant is that we write, direct and produce every single episode and do all the voices.
The show airs on Wednesday night in the US, and that means that the Thursday before that, we all sit down and say, 'What do you want to do the show about?'
A week before the show airs, we don't even know what the show is going to be - which is cool because we can do exactly what is happening that week.
It's also really stressful. It keeps it exciting.
We'll have a big writers' retreat before every season and it will hopefully come up with a few big ideas. But it's still that Thursday that we sit down and say, 'What show will we do?'
More often than not, we don't have any ideas.
Sometimes we'll come up with, OK, alcoholism - what's our take on Alcoholics' Anonymous.
We'll start to figure out whose story it is, and come up with a scene and start a scene, because you've got to get something animated.
It's really more of a sculpting process.
Two scenes will get done on Thursday.
On Friday we'll come in and say what happens before that, or what happens after that, or is that the beginning?
On Saturday it builds up, and Sunday it builds up.
Then on Monday we're dying - oh my God, the show is on in two days and we don't have anything.
And then on Tuesday we're up all night and we always used to barely having it by Wednesday morning - and then it's on the air.
We can sit there on Monday night - literally this happens all the time - and we won't have an ending. We don't have the last four minutes of our show.
We'll figure it out, and then we can run to the booth, we do all the voices, send it up to animation - it all happens in one building.
We'll even write the pages knowing this is kind of it, this isn't it, and then we'll animate that, and we'll think, 'Oh, Cartman shouldn't say that, he should say this.'
And then I'll run to the booth and go 'nah nah nah nah nah' and come back over here, and I can see it animated in an hour.
We can write a scene and go, 'OK, now we've done this, let's put this whole scene not at Cartman's house but outside, in a Chinese restaurant.' And we can see that in an hour.
Meanwhile the storyboard department will draw a big board so I can take it and put the drawings where I want, so that tells the animators what to do.
We learned to write about three years into South Park. It's fun because we've still stuck with the show and we still do everything ourselves.
Now we go back and look at our early work - you know, 10 years ago.
It's pretty rough watching the first couple of seasons - like, 'Oh wow, we thought [at the time] that was good writing.'

Saddam's cartoon capers

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is being made to watch his appearance in cult cartoon South Park while he is behind bars.
The deposed leader on trial in Iraq was featured in the movie spin-off as the lover of the devil. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut featured Hussein and Satan attempting to take over the world together.
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone said US Marines guarding the former dictator during his trial for genocide were making him watch the movie "repeatedly".
"I have it on pretty good information from the Marines on detail in Iraq that they showed him the movie last year. That's really adding insult to injury. I bet that made him really happy," Stone said.

Creators of South Park to show unseen clips at Fringe

THE creators of South Park are set to screen censored clips of the cult cartoon show on the Fringe.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone are in Edinburgh to appear at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, where they will give a masterclass on their work with South Park.
And the pair, who also created the hit film Team America: World Police, have agreed to appear on Paul Provenza's chatshow Talk Of The Fest on Saturday.
Provenza, who directed the documentary The Aristocrats, described the pair as "two of the greatest satirists alive in America" and said he was delighted they had agreed to appear on the show.
"They're brilliant guys and they're really, really aware of what they're doing on those other levels, rather than just being funny, but their motivation is always just about being funny," he said.
"They're guys who have had an extraordinary amount of success being subversive, and that's noteworthy in itself."
"I've asked them to bring some clips from Team America or South Park that were censored.
"Clips that caused or created any controversy and what came down with that."
Given some of the disturbing scenes and ideas which have made it past the censors, what was cut out could prove very disturbing indeed.
The pair will appear on Provenza's show at the Underbelly on Saturday night, and at the South Park Masterclass, on Sunday, which will include sneak previews of new material from the show, inside stories from behind the scenes, and their take on the row over their treatment of Scientology which saw soul singer Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, quit the show.