After 15 years, Comedy Central's hit animated series "South Park" is still dishing up crude jokes and subversive plot lines. Its irreverent creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone haven't found a line they won't cross. Correspondent Steve Kroft profiles the team, following their zany creative process from television to Broadway, where their musical comedy, "The Book of Mormon," is also a huge success.
The following script is from "Parker & Stone" which aired on Sept. 25, 2011. Steve Kroft is the correspondent. Graham Messick, producer.
If you came to New York this summer to see a Broadway play or a musical, chances are the one show you couldn't get tickets for was "The Book of Mormon." And if you want to come and see it next summer, you would be well-advised to book your reservations now.
The new musical is from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of "South Park," a show that changed the face of cable TV and is currently celebrating its 15th season. Now, they are working their magic on the Great White Way with another outrageous satire. And it is not their first musical - the South Park movie included the Oscar-nominated song, "Blame Canada." Now they are the toast of Broadway.
This has been the scene outside the Eugene O'Neil Theater since March, as people line up for "The Book of Mormon," the hottest ticket on Broadway. It has already grossed $32 million, is sold out for the next five months, and probably will be for years to come. And that is music to the ears of its two creators, Trey Parker, on the left, and Matt Stone, on the right.
Steve Kroft: Were you surprised it's been so successful?
Trey Parker: Yeah. I mean we thought it was good. We thought the songs were really good, but we didn't think it was going to be like this.
Elder Price in "The Book of Mormon" [singing]: Hello. My name is Elder Price.
The musical is not just a satire of clean-cut, earnest Mormons with some unorthodox beliefs. It's a playful send- up of all organized religion.
Elder Young [singing]: Hello, my name is Elder Young. Did you know that Jesus lived here in the U.S.A?
It's the story of two mismatched missionaries played by Andrew Rannels and Josh Gad, who are sent to Africa to proselytize to pagans who have heard similar spiels before with no meaningful results.
Mafala: In this part of Africa, we all have a saying. Whenever something bad happens, we just throw our hands up into the sky and say, "Hasa Diga Eebowai."
Elder Cunningham: Does it mean no worries for the rest of our days?
Mafala: Kind of!
Mafala [singing]: We've had no food for several days. And 80% of us have AIDS.
All [singing]: Hasa Diga Eebowai! Hasa Diga Eebowai.
What the Mormons don't know, but soon will find out is that the locals are flipping the finger at their heavenly father.
Elder Cunningham: F.U. to Heavenly Father?! Holy Moly, I said it like 13 times!!
It is rude, crude, lewd and blasphemous. But it hasn't kept critics from proclaiming "The Book of Mormon" the best Broadway musical in a decade, or stop it from racking up nine Tony Awards. And for theater-going fans of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, it's exactly what they expected from the creators of "South Park."
Matt Stone: A lot of the stuff, the subject matter we've tackled, the way we found ourselves there, is simply by trying to do something that no one else has touched. And so it's like, "There's a reason why people haven't touched that." And we're like, "Oh yeah, cause we want to do jokes other people haven't done, you know."
Kroft: Are there lines that you won't cross?
Stone: No. I don't, yeah, we haven't found one yet.
They are barely 40 and have already been collaborating for 20 years. They met in film class at the University of Colorado and were partnered up to work on a project, quickly discovering that they shared a love of Monty Python and a subversive sense of humor.
Kroft: What were you like back then?
Parker: Really cool. Just amazingly cool.