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Mormon Musical.
November 19, 2008 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park, "are planning to stage a Broadway musical based on the lives and (many) loves of typical members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints." They - "along with Robert Lopez, the co-writer of 'Avenue Q' - have finally settled on a script and are workshopping their new production aptly titled, 'Mormon Musical.'" They've had fun with Mormons before: South Park episode: All About the Mormons? Full episode [21:37]. Clip [08:40]
posted by ericb (45 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
This should end well.
posted by Aquaman at 9:55 AM on November 19, 2008


Well, Mormonism is inherently hilarious and fantastical, so they've got a great base of material from which to start.
posted by billysumday at 9:57 AM on November 19, 2008


> They've had fun with Mormons before: South Park...

Not to mention Orgazmo.
posted by ardgedee at 9:58 AM on November 19, 2008


The Mormon faith, and especially the Church of Latter Day Saints, is nothing if not rife for parody. But keep in mind that these people don't believe some weird, esoteric secrets, and expect you to trust that it is a great thing, they send people to your door to tell you about the man reading stones out of his hat. It sounds stupid, to me, but at least they are up front with it.

If Trey and Matt want me to cheer for them going after a goofy religion, they should set their sights on something a little harder.

Xenu: On Ice would be way better.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:01 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dumb dee dumb dumb dumb!
posted by sourwookie at 10:03 AM on November 19, 2008


Didn't they send up Mormons in Cannibal, the Musical?

Fudge, Packer?
posted by Manhasset at 10:07 AM on November 19, 2008


they send people to your door to tell you about the man reading stones out of his hat

No, they don't. The people who come to your door never, ever tell you about the man and the stones and the hat. They tell you about love and community and Jesus. For that matter, I think most Mormons avoid thinking about the really wacky stuff all that much.

If Trey and Matt want me to cheer for them going after a goofy religion, they should set their sights on something a little harder.

No doubt. Mormonism's believability problem is that its fantastical events are too recent.
posted by gurple at 10:11 AM on November 19, 2008 [7 favorites]


paisley henosis, I'm going to disagree slightly with the concept of creating a Xenu: On Ice performance. I've always thought the great drama/comedy in the Scientology world was the fabricated life story of good ole L. Ron Hubbard, crackpot extraordinaire. Though I'd pay good money to see your show, I'd pay more money to see "First Captain of Crazy: Hubbard in the Round."
posted by billysumday at 10:11 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Xenu: On Ice would be way better.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:01 AM on November 19

--

I've always thought the great drama/comedy in the Scientology world was the fabricated life story of good ole L. Ron Hubbard, crackpot extraordinaire. Though I'd pay good money to see your show, I'd pay more money to see "First Captain of Crazy: Hubbard in the Round."
posted by billysumday at 10:11 AM


You know, if they did that, they could get the tie-in with Brandon Bird doing the art direction. You may be on to something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:16 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


If Trey and Matt want me to cheer for them going after a goofy religion, they should set their sights on something a little harder.

After years of watching South Park, I've become convinced that the drive to be as funny as possible motivates them more than any political axe grinding does. The've made fun of the goofy aspects of all religions, but not because they want to knock any religion down a peg. They've also made fun of atheism, and pretty much every other major political, social, or religious ideology.

If they make fun of Mormons, it probably has less to do with their feelings about the actual religion and more to do with the fact that they can come up with some really funny jokes about Mormons.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:20 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb...

Just like the Scientology episode used real text for comedic effect, the most ludicrous parts of that one are directly from Mormon scripture.

(Sadly, just like most South Park episodes since season four or so, they take that one good joke and beat it to absolute DEATH for about six times as long as necessary.)
posted by rokusan at 10:24 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is going to suck, so hard.
posted by oddman at 10:24 AM on November 19, 2008


Well, Mormonism is all religious beliefs are inherently hilarious and fantastical, so they've got a great base of material from which to start.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 10:24 AM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Cheyenne Jackson is already pegged to star in it. From Xanadu to Legally Brown, he can do no wrong.
posted by Stynxno at 10:25 AM on November 19, 2008


I've become convinced that the drive to be as funny as possible motivates them more than any political axe grinding does.

Well, I don't know how even-handed they've been. It seems to me that it took a lot of bending over backwards to avoid making fun of Bush-era stupidness/evil for eight consecutive seasons. He barely appears and is very rarely even mentioned. And yet they found plenty of time for (multiple) Gore ridicule, in there.

(Gore also deserves some, sure, but come on. How do you ignore the epic evil comedy of the Bush era?)
posted by rokusan at 10:29 AM on November 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well, Mormonism is all religious beliefs are inherently hilarious and fantastical, so they've got a great base of material from which to start.

Ah, the inevitable "All religions suck equally" card. Though this may be true, not all religions are as hilarious as other religions. For instance, Methodists don't wear magic underwear, they don't believe they'll all populate their own planets when they die, and their spiritual founder lived long enough ago that he was never convicted in a court of law for being a "devious charlatan."
posted by billysumday at 10:37 AM on November 19, 2008 [8 favorites]


"Devious Charlatan" ? I couldn't find a strong citation for that--do you have one? And are you willing to uphold all 19th century court decisions? [it's a trap].

The seer stones, not that anyone cares, are supposed to be modern versions of the urim and thummim of the Old Testament.

The reason they parody mormons (and there is a lot to parody, and I say this as an active mormon) is because I don't know if a musical about Jews or Catholics would work that well, or else it has been done too many times. If they were hardcore they'd go after the scientologists, but that isn't going to happen.

Generally speaking, (at least in the last 100 years), nothing is going to happen to you if you make fun of mormons. I am not including violent polygamist gangs when I say that. If you made fun of fat mormons you could then combine two groups that are open season.

The only thing that bugs me are the obligatory jokes about temple clothing. Then again, my selective sensitivity never kept me from laughing at representations of jews in a lot of the early SNL skits, so there you go.

Here is an interesting excerpt from Reason where Parker and Stone discuss religion:

Reason: In the episode “All About Mormons,” a Mormon family moves to South Park, and one of the boys finds out that they’re pretty nice. Then they have a fight, and at the end the Mormon boy teaches him a moral lesson: “Look, maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense, and maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up, but I have a great life and a great family and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is, I don’t care if Joseph Smith made it all up, because what the church teaches now is loving your family, being nice, and helping people, and even though people in this town might think that’s stupid, I still choose to believe in it. All I ever did was try to be your friend, Stan, but you’re so high and mighty you couldn’t look past my religion and just be my friend back. You’ve got a lot of growing up to do, buddy. Suck my balls.”

You’re known for lampooning religion. That clip suggests you see a lot of value in it as well. How does that balance for you?

Parker: I’ve been fascinated with the Mormons for a long time. They are the nicest people in the world. If a religion’s going to take over the world, and the one that really believes “just be super nice to everyone” takes over, that’s all right with me. Even if it’s all bullshit, that’s OK.

Reason: How were each of you raised religiously?

Stone: I was raised agnostic. There was no religion in my house.

Parker: I was pretty much the same. My father tried to raise me Buddhist, as in Alan Watts Buddhism, which is Buddhism in a way.

Reason: I have Mormon friends who are convinced you guys were raised Mormon, because of some of the references in the show.

Parker: Well, we grew up in Colorado. Colorado’s right next to Utah—you know, Mormon Central. My first girlfriend was Mormon, and I went to experience family home evening at her house for the first time. “What are you all doing?” “We’re sitting, and we’re singing songs and playing games together.” I was like, “Boy, that’s fucked up. Families are not supposed to be doing that.”

Reason: There are also a lot of Jewish references. There’s a whole episode about going to Jewish camp, where they do silly craft projects. Did you go to a Jewish camp?

Stone: No, no. I didn’t even know I was Jewish until I was 16.

Parker: I had to teach him the dreidel song.

Stone: I’m not a very good Jew.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Of course, "the nicest people in the world" claim is going to be hard to defend in light of proposition 8, but then again, Nate Silver (who I trust more than most mormons when it comes to politics) is primarily blaming old people.
posted by mecran01 at 10:45 AM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


~ No, they don't. The people who come to your door never, ever tell you about the man and the stones and the hat. They tell you about love and community and Jesus. For that matter, I think most Mormons avoid thinking about the really wacky stuff all that much.

Fair point. Even still, tithing is hardly a big deal compared to the pyramid scheme of Hubbardites.

~ I've always thought the great drama/comedy in the Scientology world was the fabricated life story of good ole L. Ron Hubbard, crackpot extraordinaire. Though I'd pay good money to see your show, I'd pay more money to see "First Captain of Crazy: Hubbard in the Round."

That idea would work on any scale, too. From a one-man-show to an epic sage piece with dozens of sets, it's brilliant!
posted by paisley henosis at 10:45 AM on November 19, 2008


I'd always been under the impression that Parker & Stone actually like Mormons, or at least don't go out of their way to slag them. The closing scene of the Dumb dumb dumb.. episode is pretty much them saying "sure, they have silly beliefs, but they act in a very good and kind manner." And Orgazmo, again the hero is quite naive and a little dim, but he's a sweetheart and fighting to do good in the world.

Not exactly LOLmormons, I think.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:47 AM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey, wow, I can't believe I didn't notice this on the first read-through. From the first link, regarding Sundance:

Actors and producers have been urged to pull their films from a Cinemark Theatres complex providing four screening rooms to the Festical.

Festical. Awesome.
posted by gurple at 10:47 AM on November 19, 2008


It seems to me that it took a lot of bending over backwards to avoid making fun of Bush-era stupidness/evil for eight consecutive seasons.

Well, they did do an entire show about him being an idiot for a while, but I think they were going to do that regardless of who won in 2000. You're right that they didn't really do much direct attacks on him in South Park, although they clearly weren't taking sides when they declared the last election to be between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich.

They didn't really go after Clinton before 2000 though either. Again, I think Gore was a recurring target because they really thought Manbearpig thing was funny. I seriously doubt that they had some really funny Bush stuff that they thought up but didn't air. They have some targets that come up more than others, but as far as general satire goes they are actually pretty "fair and balanced."
posted by burnmp3s at 10:48 AM on November 19, 2008


that the drive to be as funny as possible motivates them more than any political axe grinding does

McCain and Obama as jewel thieves? is that funny to you? seriously? after way too many seasons South Park is as funny as a kick in the nuts. they pull off a good episode (the Mel Gibson parody) about once every five years now.


it took a lot of bending over backwards to avoid making fun of Bush-era stupidness/evil for eight consecutive seasons. He barely appears and is very rarely even mentioned. And yet they found plenty of time for (multiple) Gore ridicule, in there.

you know, I said this here when they did that awful "America Fuck Yeah" film with the puppets or whatever its name was: if you take seriously the politics of two guys who owe their fortune to a cartoon with a singing turd, the joke's on you.
posted by matteo at 10:49 AM on November 19, 2008


~ If they were hardcore they'd go after the scientologists, but that isn't going to happen.

Generally speaking, (at least in the last 100 years), nothing is going to happen to you if you make fun of mormons. I am not including violent polygamist gangs when I say that. If you made fun of fat mormons you could then combine two groups that are open season.


Exactly, they want to be Out There, and Provocative, but they poke lame fun at the easy targets, and half the time back peddle from it at the last minute anyway.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:51 AM on November 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Tangentially related data point: at a marriage equality rally on Saturday, I saw a bunch of anti-LDS signs, which I had expected. Some of them were pretty harsh, and they didn't stick to the topic of marriage.

But I also saw one sign that said "Mormons for Queers". In the current environment that has a lot of anti-Mormon sentiment, a couple of Mormons had the big brass ones (brass ovaries? they were women) to come out as Mormon in a crowd of 3000 gay-rights supporters and show that at least some Mormons aren't behind what their church is doing on this issue.
posted by gurple at 10:55 AM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Devious Charlatan" ? I couldn't find a strong citation for that--do you have one? And are you willing to uphold all 19th century court decisions? [it's a trap].

Wait, what's a trap? Are you going to trick me into believing that black people have darker skin because their ancestors sinned against God? OH NOE NOWS I BELIEVE IT!

Apologies for the devious charlatan quotation, I was misremembering the warrant - in reality, it called Smith a "disorderly person and an imposter."

This idea of trying to make Christianity or Judaism sound as ridiculous as Mormonism will never work. The fact is, we don't really have a perfectly concrete idea of how precisely Christianity came to dominate half of the world - the exact ways in which a person named Jesus either did or didn't exist and how his supporters turned his life (or rather, the story of his life) into a religion which has been subsequently used by various governments and leaders to oppress people and to fight wars with other nations.

But in the case of Mormonism, we do know how it was founded, and we know that its founder had a long history of selling snake-oil to his neighbors and in general was a real huckster who pissed off every lawman and politician he ever crossed paths with. It's the same thing with L. Ron Hubbard. The guy was pretty much a documented sociopath who told his friends that he was going to create a religion so as to make a lot of money.
posted by billysumday at 11:00 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


The reason they parody mormons (and there is a lot to parody, and I say this as an active mormon) is because I don't know if a musical about Jews or Catholics would work that well, or else it has been done too many times. If they were hardcore they'd go after the scientologists, but that isn't going to happen.

They constantly make fun of Jews on the show, and they've had episodes that portrayed Catholics and Scientologists so negatively that they were not re-aired.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:01 AM on November 19, 2008


Stephen: Where, where am I?
Man: Where are we?
Man 2: No doubt about it…
Woman: What's happening??
Man 3: Oooooooooh!
Speaker: Hello, newcomers, and welcome. Can everybody hear me? [taps the mic a few times] Hello? Can everybuh-? Okay. [the crowd quiets down] Uh, I'm the hell director. Uh, it looks like we have about 8,615 of you newbies today, and for those of you who are a little confused, uh, you are dead, and this is hell, so, abandon all hope and uh yada yada yada. Uh, we are now going to start the orientation process, which will last about-
Man 4: Hey, wait a minute, I shouldn't be here. I wa a totally strict and devout Protestant! I thought we went to heaven!
Hell Director: Yes, well I'm afraid you were wrong.
Soldier: I was a practicing Jehovah's Witness. Uh, you picked the wrong religion as well.
Man 5: Well, who was right? Who gets into heaven?
Hell Director: I'm afraid it was the Mormons. Yes, the Mormons were the correct answer.
Crowd: [disappointed] Awww.
posted by fungible at 11:09 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


they send people to your door to tell you about the man reading stones out of his hat

Which is funny, because for years I've heard various organized religions complain about how homosexuals "recruit" yet I've never had a one come to my door and tell me about the man sucking cock in his mouth.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:15 AM on November 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


Now, if they want to make this really interesting they need to cast an Osmond.
posted by doift at 11:24 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


They constantly make fun of Jews on the show, and they've had episodes that portrayed Catholics and Scientologists so negatively that they were not re-aired.

Um, I just saw the Bloody Mary episode, for the first time, about a month ago.
posted by Stynxno at 11:43 AM on November 19, 2008


I've heard various organized religions complain about how homosexuals "recruit" yet I've never had a one come to my door and tell me about the man sucking cock in his mouth.

Them homosexuals is way more advanced than your basic old-fashioned door-to-door types: they use the internet.
posted by rokusan at 11:44 AM on November 19, 2008


Parker and Stone on politics from (head explodes) Reason Magazine.
posted by rokusan at 11:45 AM on November 19, 2008


I'm fairly sure that us Canadians are their favorite target...
posted by weezy at 12:32 PM on November 19, 2008


Weren't the cannibals in Cannibal! The Musical pretty much mormons?
posted by Artw at 1:16 PM on November 19, 2008


Thread needs more FLDS Gangsta Rap.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:59 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm fairly sure that us Canadians are their favorite target...

Shut yer flapping head.
posted by rokusan at 2:27 PM on November 19, 2008


southparkstudios.com is racist against canadians
posted by tehloki at 2:40 PM on November 19, 2008


People still watch South Park? I honestly had no idea. How 1998 of them.
posted by tkchrist at 2:48 PM on November 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


For that matter, I think most Mormons avoid thinking about the really wacky stuff all that much.

Well they pretty much would have to avoid thinking about it, otherwise they'd be forced to conclude that their religion is simply batshitinsane.

Y'know, the big problem in this world isn't faith. Faith is great. It's religion. Religion is where it all goes weirdly, wildly, dangerously wrong.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:08 PM on November 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


It seems to me that it took a lot of bending over backwards to avoid making fun of Bush-era stupidness/evil for eight consecutive seasons.

They did do "That's my Bush" right after the 2000 election, though as I recall it wasn't a bash-Bush kind of show. Besides, things didn't get really evil for a year or so, after the show had aired.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:50 PM on November 19, 2008


Parker: To some degree, South Park has a simple formula that came from the very first episode [“The Spirit of Christmas,” which featured Jesus and Santa fighting over who owned the holiday]. There was Jesus on this side and there was Santa on this side, there’s Christianity here and there’s Christmas commercialism here, and they’re duking it out. And there are these four boys in the middle going, “Dude, chill out.” It’s really what Team America is as well: taking an extremist on this side and an extremist on that side. Michael Moore being an extremist is just as bad, you know, as Donald Rumsfeld. It’s like they’re the same person. It takes a fourth-grade kid to go, “You both remind me of each other.” The show is saying that there is a middle ground, that most of us actually live in this middle ground, and that all you extremists are the ones who have the microphones because you’re the most interesting to listen to, but actually this group isn’t evil, that group isn’t evil, and there’s something to be worked out here.
posted by Amanojaku at 9:01 PM on November 19, 2008


Dagnabbit. That should have been:

From the Reason article:

"It’s really what Team America is as well: taking an extremist on this side and an extremist on that side. Michael Moore being an extremist is just as bad, you know, as Donald Rumsfeld. It’s like they’re the same person. It takes a fourth-grade kid to go, “You both remind me of each other.” The show is saying that there is a middle ground, that most of us actually live in this middle ground, and that all you extremists are the ones who have the microphones because you’re the most interesting to listen to, but actually this group isn’t evil, that group isn’t evil, and there’s something to be worked out here."

Uh ... I'm all for disowning extremeism in general, but ... really? Really?
posted by Amanojaku at 9:04 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


matteo:

Not do all-out defend South Park or anything, but the McCain/Obama one was less focused on politics and more about making fun of the fervent supporters on both sides. And the ridiculous plots of Ocean's 11-type capers.

The recent High School Musical one was pretty spot on, and funny.
posted by graventy at 11:02 PM on November 19, 2008


The Al Gore one was fucking terrible though.

I'd say Team America was the best piss take of idiotic Bush supporting Americans views on the world ever, except i've kind of noticed that the "making fun of the fervent supporters on both sides" seems to mostly go one way, and I'm wondering if they really intended it that way. Said idiotic Americans certainly don't seem to have noticed any piss taking there.
posted by Artw at 12:21 AM on November 20, 2008


I adored the McCain/Obamas/Palin thief club episode. Yeah, it was silly, but silly was exactly what I needed after the months and months of campaign viciousness. It had no satiric grounding in reality, but it was fun to see these characters we'd been hopeful for/scared of for too long reduced to running around in funny costumes. Call it pedestrian, but I found it an excellent tension release valve.

I don't understand why Obama was gray, however.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:47 AM on November 20, 2008


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