Back in 1998, as South Park exploded in popular culture during its first season, Trey Parker explained to Rolling Stone where the idea for “South Park” originally came from. It should be no surprise to anyone familiar with the show and the antics of Matt Stone and Trey Parker:
South Park has established Parker and Stone — who say they don’t get Woody Allen but love Jerry Springer — as the kings of a new, nonsnobby but bluntly smart fin de siècle comedic sensibility. Neither highbrow nor lowbrow, it’s a sort of humor that’s distinctly no-brow — an edgy, rude point of view that can get pretty trippy. “We did an appearance at UCLA recently,” Parker says. “All these kids asking, ‘Where did you get the idea for this? And where did you get the idea for that?’ And we were like, ‘Acid. Acid and, uh, acid.'”
Of course trials and tribulations of four brash 4th graders came from the minds of two University of Colorado-Boulder bros who tripped their face off on acid. The way they landed the deal with Comedy Central, however, is the stuff of Hollywood legend — They sketched a dark, vulgar five-minute short called “The Spirit of Christmas” for $1200: Less than rent in most major U.S. cities. Via the same Rolling Stone interview:
Two years ago, Stone says, “We were seriously starving. Down to a meal a day.” Salvation came in the form of The Spirit of Christmas, one of the least likely big breaks in Hollywood history. The obscenity-laced five-minute short was commissioned by booster Brian Graden, then a Fox executive, as a Christmas card. He gave the pair $1,200 to spend. “They pocketed half of it,” Graden says. The result found Jesus and Santa Claus kicking each other’s asses and featured memorable lines like, “Dude, don’t say ‘pig fucker’ in front of Jesus!”
Passed around within and without the industry, The Spirit of Christmas became an underground smash. “Right after The Spirit of Christmas, it got to the point where we were doing three meetings a day and getting offered multipicture deals from every studio,” Parker recalls as the limo pulls onto the NBC lot. “I got a call from my agents saying, ‘Trey, you’ve been offered to direct a picture for a million and a half dollars.’ And I said, ‘Wow, what’s the movie?’ And they said, ‘It’s Barney: The Movie.’ I said, ‘Who the hell wants me to direct Barney: The Movie?’ They said, ‘They want it to be a G-rated thing, and they saw that you can make really funny stuff with kids since you did The Spirit of Christmas.’ “
The Spirit Of Christmas started a tradition with the show after Trey and Matt finally sold it. “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo” came into our lives (one of the best South Park songs ever) in the show’s first season in 1998. It was followed by a string of wonderful and hilarious Christmas specials like “Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson!”, “Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics”, “A Very Crappy Christmas”, “Red Sleigh Down”, “It’s Christmas in Canada” and, a personal favorite, 2004’s “Woodland Critter Christmas,” where the Anti-Christ is born and worshipped by fuzzy woodland creatures who have blood orgies.
Yes, there is no doubt that South Park was created out of an acid trip.
Now 23 years old, you can actually go watch the very first South Park online.