How Trey Parker and Matt Stone Became an American Institution

Matt Zoller Seitz is on point with his assessment of how Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the guys behind South Park, have become the defining humorists of this generation.

Of course they have competition. There’s “The Daily Show,” for sure, though I’d argue that Jon Stewart’s version is as much a news program as a comedy series. But for audacity, visual flair, musical chops, verbal invention and gut-busting silliness, not to mention consistency of vision over time, I think the “South Park” boys trump all comers — including the creators of “The Simpsons,” a landmark show that started to flag halfway into its endless run, and Seth MacFarlane of “Family Guy,” whose show has its moments but has never quite risen to the heights of conceptually driven insanity that Parker and Stone reach so often.  At their best, I’d put Parker and Stone up there with “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” “SCTV,” Ernie Kovacs, the Marx Brothers, George Carlin and W.C. Fields, all of whom skated along the edge of the surreal and willfully outrageous, doing pirouettes and blowing raspberries at anyone who tried, like yours truly, to call them great and significant.

Their success is all the more remarkable when you consider what true outsiders they were, and to some extent still are. Back in 1992 they were just a couple of students at the University of Colorado who’d produced a goofy little short film titled “The Spirit of Christmas.”

And because it is still so very funny, here is “The Spirit of Christmas” video short that got them their start.

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