Matt Stone Visits Austin Via South Park

Matt Stone of South Park visits UT

John Pierson was clearly delighted. It took three years but now the guest he had most wanted to book was finally in the house. Since beginning his Master Class at UT three years ago, Pierson has tried to get South Park's co-creator Matt Stone to visit with his Austin students. But the timing has never been right due to the congruence of UT's spring semester and Comedy Central's spring season. The stars aligned, however, in 2008 and Stone was able to hop on a flight right after completing work on the 12th season of South Park and make an appearance in Pierson's final class of the semester. Stone and his creative partner in South Park, Trey Parker, never work more than a week ahead on each episode of the show. This is part of what makes it impossible for the two to get away from L.A. while the season is in progress. Stone confesses they "get bored" pretty quickly, and that's part of why they like having only a week to produce a show. Mostly, though, it's "procrastination" that takes them down to the wire.

Of the meteoric celebrity that came their way with the dissemination of the now-famous cartoon, "The Spirit of Christmas," Stone wondered whether something like that could happen in the new YouTube era. "The Spirit of Christmas" went viral before that term ever applied to video as their hilarious and potty-mouthed cartoon was dubbed and passed from person to person. Moreover, Parker and Stone never included their names on that original VHS tape and Stone still laughs now at the image of various suits shouting into their phones, "Get me the guy who made that video," and being totally stymied.

Stone expressed his disappointment in the media outlets of America for blowing what could have been "their Spartacus moment" by kowtowing to the demands of radical Islamists by not using the name Mohammed in anything but a pious sense. He suspects that the nonsense would have been seen for the empty threat it is if everyone banded together and used the unholy reference at once.

The single best decision he and Parker ever made? "Not moving to network" when first presented with the opportunity, and realizing that South Park was not a stepping stone to anything else. They were already doing exactly what they wanted to be doing. Encouraging words for burgeoning filmmakers and others who make a practice of tweaking society's limits? "There are always workarounds."

As for the future, Parker and Stone are starting to think in HD as Comedy Central will be converting to high-def format in 2009. Possible scenarios? How about Stan turning 10 and having a midlife crisis? Stone is also proud of the show's new website, where every episode can be viewed for free.

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Matt Stone, South Park, Master Class, John Pierson

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