“Whatever! I Do What I Want!”: 54 Trivia Tidbits About Trey Parker on His 54th Birthday
His animation franchise is worth a cool billion, he’s not a fan of pot, and he once pretended to be a porn director only to become an actual porn director. Along with Matt Stone, he’s given us iconic characters like Eric Cartman and Satan and forever changed how we hear the name ‘Matt Damon.’ It’s Trey Parker’s 54th birthday, and we have 54 Trey Parker facts to dive into Casa Bonita-style...
Parker was born in Conifer, Colorado.
‘South Park’ Parents
Stan’s parents on South Park are named after Parker’s parents: Sharon and Randolph “Randy” Parker II. His mom was an insurance seller, and his dad was a geologist.
Parker was making movies by age 14 and was active in his high school’s choir and theater group.
He Met Matt Stone in Film Class
The two creators first met in film class at the University of Colorado. That’s where they created Cannibal: The Musical.
About That Horse
Liane, the horse in Cannibal: The Musical, was named after Parker’s unfaithful ex-fiancée. “I was engaged to this girl, Liane,” Parker said on the movie’s commentary track. “We were sorta high school sweethearts. About a month before the wedding, she decided to start sleeping with this guy in an a cappella group. And I really wrote this movie for her. Just so I could ridicule her, basically.”
More of Liane
Parker would, of course, keep the jabs coming by also using the name for Cartman’s promiscuous mother.
Before anyone knew what Parker looked like (folks had only been hearing his name around town), the goofball played a prank on industry bigwigs by switching identities with a porn star while researching the industry for his movie, Orgazmo. He had the porn actor introduce himself as Trey Parker, while the real Parker told folks he was the porn director and proceeded to act as such on the live set. Eyewitnesses said he kept yelling, “More ass; I need more ass in this shot!”
While in college, Parker and Matt produced and starred in several short films together, some of which are online. Here’s one you can watch right now:
He Clashed With Paramount Over the Movie
Parker told Playboy that everything went well with Paramount while they were making South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, but when it came to the 1999 movie’s marketing, everything started falling apart. “The best was the trailer,” he said. “They made this trailer for the movie that was so bad. It was basically like (sleazy announcer voice), ‘Get ready for the laughiest movie of the summer!’ It was what South Park is completely against. We told them we didn’t like it, and they said they were going to make changes. But they kept sending us the exact same trailer. So the third time, we broke the tape in half, put it back in the envelope, and sent it back to them.”
On What He Really Said to George Lucas
When Playboy asked Parker if he really went up to Lucas at a party and told him, “I haven’t seen your movie yet (Phantom Menace), but everybody says it sucks,” he said he didn’t quite word it like that. “I was drunk,” he admitted, laughing. “I had met him before, and he’s such a nice guy that I fucking feel bad. He said, ‘I haven’t seen your movie yet,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I haven’t seen yours either, after, you know, everyone said it’s not really worth seeing.’ Or something like that. And then I just felt like, Oh fuck, what did I say?”
On Good Storytelling in Screenwriting
In a talk with NYU Tisch students, Parker explained that “if we can take the beats of your outline, and the words ‘and then’ (are) between those beats, you’re fucked basically. You got something pretty boring.” He advised that words like “therefore” and “but” be used instead.
His ‘South Park’ Doppelgängers
In Parker and Stone’s mockumentary, Goin’ Down to South Park, Parker admits that while he based Stan on himself, both he and Stone see the most of themselves in Eric Cartman. Whether that’s true or just part of the parody remains a mystery.
Parker Did Eric Cartman in ‘BASEketball’
In BASEketball, Parker went full Cartman in the scene below.
Hanging Out with Russell Crowe
Before turning Crowe into a drunken sailor filled with bloody rage in South Park, Parker met the Australian actor on the award show circuit for South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Crowe invited Parker and Stone to a listening party of his band’s new album, which Parker would end up describing as Bon Jovi meets Hepatitis B. Parker suggested they improve the mix, pissing Crowe right off and leading to them having to listen to the entire album three more times.
On Dropping Acid and Going to the Oscars
Parker was nominated for “Blame Canada,” so, naturally, he and Matt Stone dropped acid and attended the awards ceremony in drag.
He Doesn’t Like Pot
Or at least, that’s what he told Playboy back in 2007. “I haven’t smoked pot in 10 years, and I don’t like it,” he said. “I think it makes me stupid, and I don’t like being around people who do it because it makes them stupid, and I have nothing to talk to them about. You can’t do shit smoking dope.”
His Feelings on Drugs
“You can’t work this hard and party at the same time,” he continued. “And I definitely won’t say I haven’t had some great fucking times on drugs. I’ve had some great times, and I still do. But I wasn’t doing anything when I was 13 and 14 when I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. That’s actually one of the things I’m proudest of that I had Chef say in an episode: ‘There’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s called college.’ I totally believe that. That’s what I’d tell my kid: ‘Do whatever you want, just wait till college because you don’t know what the fuck’s up right now.’”
The First ‘South Park’ Short
Parker and Stone (under the name Avenging Conscience) created their short, The Spirit of Christmas, while in college back in 1992. It would lay the foundation for the long-running series to come.
Shocking Audiences Since Sixth Grade
“When I was in sixth grade,” Parker once told David Letterman, “there was a talent show, and I wrote my first sketch, ‘The Dentist.’ I played the dentist, and I had my friend play a patient. It was sort of what can go wrong at the dentist, and I just remember I had lots of fake blood and everything. Finally, his head explodes. My parents got a call from the school; they were really upset. The kindergartners were all crying and freaking out.”
The Love For Casa Bonita
Parker and Stone have spent “infinite dollars” on revamping their favorite place in the world, Casa Bonita.
His Early Music Career
Before Parker went to college and met his future co-creator, he was in a high school band with his buddy Dave Goodman. Together, they recorded songs that would not seem out of place in a South Park episode.
Sage Advice from Mike Judge
When they were starting out, Mike Judge told Parker and Stone, “There’s going to be this big rise, and then everyone will hate you. You just ride it out and do your job, and you’re just a show,” Parker shared with Playboy. “And we’re finally there because of the movie. Before the movie, we were crashing down, and now we’ve leveled out. It’s a good place to be because there’s not as much pressure. Once you go up and down, you realize it’s all a bunch of bullshit.”
A Cool Billion
The South Park library has been officially evaluated at $1 billion, making it “one of the most valuable TV properties of all time.”
His Band with Matt Stone
DVDA, Parker and Stone’s band, has popped up in their work, including this scene in BASEketball.
subtitle]The Origin of Said Band Name The name hails from Orgazmo and means “Double Vaginal, Double Anal” — a term they learned from a first-hand source while working in the porn industry back in the day.
The name hails from Orgazmo and means “Double Vaginal, Double Anal” — a term they learned from a first-hand source while working in the porn industry back in the day.
From ‘All in the Family’ to ‘South Park’
“We grew up sort of more with sitcoms like Diff’rent Strokes, Hello, Larry, and Facts of Life,” Parker explained in an interview, “’cause that was supposed to be our comedy, you know, and, so, it wasn’t until a little bit later that we saw syndicated runs of All in the Family. And we were, you know, really, like, ‘Wow, this, this was — what happened to this stuff?’ ’Cause it just went away when everything got so PC in the ’80s. And, you know, you could never have had an Archie Bunker again. It was — really, when we started talking about, ‘How could you bring an Archie Bunker back? What if you made him a little eight-year-old fat kid?’ That really influenced one of our characters, Cartman, in the show. It was based on Archie Bunker.”
The Monty Python Influence
In the same interview, Parker admits that Monty Python’s Flying Circus had a “huge influence” on them. “Kids want to have this sense of discovery of, like, ‘I don’t understand what’s going on here, and I want to know what’s going on,’” Parker continued “And that’s, you know, watching Python at ages five and six. In fact, you know, I thought that they talked that way because it was funny, not because there’s an actual place that they came from. And I finally realized that there was this country that, you know, they talk like that.”
The ‘South Park’ Episode He Didn’t Want to Air
Parker was not feeling “Make Love Not Warcraft” — so much so that he begged the network not to air it. He was sure the episode would ruin their legacy; instead, it became a fan favorite.
How He Really Feels About Kids
“There’s this whole thing out there about how kids are so innocent and pure,” Parker once told The Independent. “That’s bullshit, man. Kids are malicious. They totally jump on any bandwagon and rip off the weak guy at any chance. They say whatever bad word they can think of. They are total bastards, but for some reason, everyone has kids and forgets about what they were like when they were kids.”
His Kid Voiced Ike Broflovski
Kyle Broflovski’s Canadian brother, Ike, has been voiced by a variety of South Park staff’s kids over the years, including Parker’s own daughter. See her in action below.
‘South Park’ Went From a Job to a Cause
“South Park is way bigger than either of us,” Parker told The Hollywood Reporter once. “And it’s this curse, and when we are doing it, I hate it. I’m pissed off, and I’m tired, and every single Tuesday I say, ‘This is the worst show we’ve ever done!’ It’s brutal. But it’s something I am a part of that’s bigger than I am. That’s what’s most important.”
Late-Nights Lead to Bad Ideas
Parker created the “Happy Dance” in BASEketball out of sheer exhaustion. “It was something I had started doing at 3 a.m. in the morning and thought it was just the funniest damn thing ever,” he said during the movie’s press junket. “And the next day, I realized it’s just not that funny.”
A Fan of Food Shows
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Parker is obsessed with Food Network.
He also enjoys designing houses as a hobby. “I got into this little habit of architecture and building,” he said. “I designed a house in Colorado and one in Hawaii. The idea is supposed to be build and sell — but then I can never bring myself to sell them.”
Norman Lear Married Him
More Zen Than Stone
Stone told The Hollywood Reporter that Parker is “genuinely a true artist” and more introspective. “I’m more mercurial. I have a temper more than Trey; I’m not proud of it, but I have that edge. Trey avoids conflict like the plague.”
Can Proudly Proclaim to Have Influenced ‘Game of Thrones’
The Game of Thrones creators admitted on the Season Four DVD commentary that South Park’s jabs at those long garden walks filled with talking and conspiring made them cut back on the waking-and-plotting scenes in the show.
On Why They Hated on Barbra Streisand
During the Playboy interview, Parker explained that “except for Barbra Streisand, there’s really no one we rip on because we hate them. We really are just deconstructing stardom.” When asked what their beef with Babs was, Parker went on: “It’s a Colorado thing. In the early ’90s, there was this whole Amendment Two (an antigay amendment) thing in Colorado. It was a big fuckup, and it turned out later that half the state didn’t even know what the law was saying; they thought no meant yes and yes meant no. It was very confusing. But when it passed, Barbara Streisand went on one of her big crusades because she’s got a fucking $4 million condo in Aspen. She goes, ‘I am boycotting Colorado.’ And we were all like, ‘Fuck, yeah. Get your fucking ass out of Aspen.’”
His AI Deepfake Startup
In December 2022, Parker and Stone announced the launch of their AI entertainment company, Deep Voodoo, to develop “leading deepfake technology, cost-effective visual effects services, and original synthetic media projects.” The site is up, but not much is happening there just yet.
It Stems From a Deepfake They Made of Trump
In 2020, Parker and Stone became interested in the technology, embarking on a project using the twice impeached former president Donald Trump’s likeness in a feature film called Deep Fake: The Movie. The pandemic put a stop to the film, but they did create a short titled “Sassy Justice” with Trump’s face plastered on screen.
Almost Calling It Quits
The closest Parker (and Stone) came to dumping the industry was during the pandemic. “It was the same as everyone,” Parker told the Los Angeles Times. “It was the first few months of the pandemic, and it was the first time we were going “Oh wow, maybe that’s just it.”
The Pandemic Led to Them Going Remote
“Not a lot of people know that we were a day away from starting production on the first feature movie we had done since Team America: World Police,” he continued. “We were going to start shooting on the day that the pandemic shut everything down. It was months and months of getting ready for that movie, to just being like, ‘Nope, it’s over.’ I went to the office to start packing up my things because I was just kind of in shock. There was a few weeks of just depression, and then I just got happy ’cause I’m like, ‘I’m just gonna hang out with my daughter and watch Harry Potter and build Legos.’ And then Matt said, ‘Let’s go remote.’”
How He Tries to Keep ‘South Park’ Fresh
“We’ll sit there in the writers’ room sometimes and just be so stuck,” Parker explained to the Los Angeles Times, “and I’ll be like, ‘How can we not know what the fuck we’re doing after 25 years?’ We never want to repeat ourselves. There’s definitely tropes, but for it to be funny, it’s got to be new. Just going, ‘Cartman is fat, and he likes cheesy poofs’ is not going to make us laugh.”
“It’s easier to be fresh about something topical because it’s new,” he continued. “The writers’ room always starts with us sitting around a table going, ‘All right, what’s going on?’ Just like in any office. But even in the season we just did, some of my favorite things were Butters riding a horse and Cartman living in a hot dog. Just kid stuff.”
Screw Focus Groups
“We cannot stand the whole idea,” Parker told the First Amendment Center about testing their work on focus groups. “In fact, when we made the South Park movie, we told Paramount part of our deal is we do not focus group this movie. And they were like, ‘What do you mean? It’s the greatest tool’” and blah, blah.” He explained that the process “takes the zen of the whole thing away when you’re just counting laughs.”
Music School Before Film School
Before attending the University of Colorado, Parker did a semester at Berkley’s College of Music.
The Kids Musical Pilot
One of Parker and Stone’s earliest jobs in Hollywood involved producing a pilot for a kids’ musical TV series called Time Warped. You can check out the pilot, “Rom and Jul,” below.
A Glee Kid
When Parker was 14, he was in the chorus of a Colorado community theater production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. In high school, he played Danny Zuko in Grease and Sammy Fong in Flower Drum Song.
Parker grew up with a scientist father who often debated Mormons knocking on their door. “I grew up with the religion of Star Wars, frankly,” Parker once told The Denver Post. “That’s when I realized there is something bigger out there — and it’s called The Force.”
Parker said that simultaneously doing BASEketball and South Park was murderous. “We’d get picked up at five in the morning, we’d have a 14-hour shoot (on BASEketball), be done at 7 p.m. — which was just time to go to work,” Parker explained. “So we’d drive and go to work on South Park for four hours, and then go home to sleep a couple of hours, and then get picked up at 5 a.m. — for 10 weeks. It just about killed us; it really did.”
The A-Ha Moment
“For us, it was Beavis and Butt-Head,” Parker told the L.A. Times. “That was the time where we were like, ‘We could do that.’ We never watched The Simpsons and said, ‘We can do that.’ Beavis and Butt-Head had this really handmade feel. We really bonded over that.”
On ‘That’s My Bush!’
Originally titled Everybody Loves Al because Parker and Stone were “95% sure” that Al Gore would win the 2000 presidential election, That’s My Bush! was more about spoofing sitcom tropes than politics, according to the DVD commentary. The show would be canceled for many reasons, including the $1 million cost per episode.
Not a ‘Thunderbirds’ Fan
While the 1960s show inspired Team America: World Police, Parker isn’t a fan. “They couldn’t even hold our interest when we were kids,” he said. “They’re so expository and slow — just dialogue and dialogue and dialogue, and it took itself really seriously.”
His Political Views
Parker has been quoted as saying he’s a registered Libertarian, and back in 2004, said this: “What we’re sick of — and it’s getting even worse — is: You either like Michael Moore or you wanna fuckin’ go overseas and shoot Iraqis. There can’t be a middle ground. Basically, if you think Michael Moore’s full of shit, then you are a super-Christian right-wing whatever. And we’re both just pretty middle-ground guys. We find just as many things to rip on on the left as we do on the right. People on the far left and the far right are the same exact person to us.”
His First Use of Construction Paper Animation
Parker first used this style in his 1992 short, American History, winning a Student Academy Award in the process. On receiving the award, Parker remembers: “And there are all these Cal Arts kids behind me who had submitted these beautiful watercolor and pencil things. And here’s my shitty construction-paper thing-which makes South Park look like Disney, by the way, and they’re all fuming.”