NEW YORK — With the political relevance of “The Daily Show” and the huge DVD sales (and subsequent hiatus) of “Chappelle’s Show,” it’s easy to forget about that other Comedy Central show, “South Park.”
But Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s crude cartoon will begin its ninth season 10 p.m. ET Wednesday — and it remains the network’s most-watched program. It is also, perhaps, still the most manic thing on TV, with entire episodes created just days before they air.
With a ripped-from-the-headlines approach, it’s the “Law & Order” of comedy. The first episode, “Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow,” tackles Hurricane Katrina — by way of the neighboring town flooding.
Parker, who turns 36 Wednesday, and Stone, 34, last month inked a deal for three more seasons and “South Park” has begun appearing in syndication in some markets — both of which assure the world of Cartman, Stan, Kyle and the rest will continue to expand.
AP: Cartman once described independent movies as “gay cowboys eating pudding.” Now we have “Brokeback Mountain,” an upcoming movie by Ang Lee about gay cowboys.
Stone: If they have pudding in that movie, I’m going to lose my mind.
Parker: No, if there’s pudding eating in there, we’re going to sue.
AP: Are you guys prophets?
Stone: No, but Cartman is. [Laughs] We went to Sundance a lot in the mid-to-late ’90s, and you could just tell it was going toward gay cowboydom.
AP: The first episode will be Wednesday ... It’s a fast process for you, isn’t it?
Parker: It is. We take a lot of time before just to come up with the broad ideas, but until the Thursday before that Wednesday, that’s when we really sit down and go “OK, how can we tell this story?” And it leaves us a lot of room, too. A lot of times on a Thursday, we’ll sit down and go, “Hey, have you seen this Terri Schiavo thing? This is huge, we should do a story about that.”
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AP: Sometimes “South Park” is quite topical.
Parker: Yeah, the reason we’re able to do that is it’s still just Matt and I really doing most everything. We still write, direct and edit every episode ourselves. ... We can sit there on a Tuesday night and [rewrite the third act], run in the booth next door, record all the voices, get the storyboards together, edit it and see it in a couple hours. It’s pretty amazing. It’s pretty amazing, too, having done it almost nine years.
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AP:Does the fast process backfire sometimes?
Stone: I actually think that makes the show better in a weird way. It’s kind of a punk-rock ethic. Like albums that are too produced, you can tell they produced all the magic out of it.
Parker: It’s a little more White Stripes.
AP: Are you surprised at the longevity of “South Park”?
Stone: It’s totally crazy. When we first did the show, we thought it would be six episodes and then we’d be done — and now we’re in our ninth season and signed up to do three more years.
AP: What do you do to keep it fresh?
Parker: It’s so much fun, since we still do everything, you can sort of see our growth as writers. When we started this show, we knew how to do funny, outrageous stuff, but we didn’t know how to write.
AP: Is there something you’re personally sensitive about or is everything fair game?
Stone: We have a really funny breast cancer episode coming up. [Laughs] I just think it’s not contradictory to make fun of something and be sensitive about it. It’s just the way we examine the world. “Sensitive” isn’t the right word, but we actually have thoughts and feelings about all this stuff; it’s not just destruction-oriented.
Parker: Just last week we were on a plane and we were pretty positive we were going to die — and we were making jokes. It really, really felt like the end, and we were making jokes.
AP: Are you thinking about another movie?
Parker: Um, no.
Stone: “Team America” almost killed us. We’d like to figure out a way to do our own movies, but not die doing them, and maybe help some other people produce their movies, like graduate to the next level because we are getting up there in age.
AP: What about a live-action movie?
Stone: Like “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo”? [laughs] That’s what we should do, really.
Parker: We could make so much money if we would just write scripts like that and go shoot them and put big stars in them. But, first of all, we hate actors. And second, I just can’t imagine being on a set of a movie like “Deuce Bigalow.”
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