John Early Is Figuring Out How to Be Sincere

As the star of the sharp new indie ‘Stress Positions,’ the irreverent comic works in a more serious vein. He tells Cracked why he’s getting comfortable with being earnest — even if he’s scared everyone will think he’s pretentious

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Making Fun of Tom Cruise Is the Only Thing ‘Family Guy’ and ‘South Park’ Can Agree On

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Making Fun of Tom Cruise Is the Only Thing ‘Family Guy’ and ‘South Park’ Can Agree On

Even among the most bitter rivals, one lone patch of common ground unites the world of animated comedies — making gay jokes about Tom Cruise.

Younger Family Guy or South Park fans might not remember how, back when the shows were at their peak of popularity and cultural permeation in the mid-2000s, the first thought that jumped to the minds of most TV-watchers when the name “Tom Cruise” was mentioned wasn’t his impressive stunt work or his performance in the latest Mission: Impossible movie. No, back then, the movie megastar’s public persona was defined by a handful of perplexing public breakdowns in his processor, be it his infamous couch-jumping interview on Oprah or the skin-crawlingly creepy Scientology recruitment videos that made us wonder whether aliens actually did visit earth a trillion years ago, and whether one of them was still around wearing a convincing and charming skin suit.

As such, Cruise was, arguably, the most popular parody target in TV comedy outside of the usual political punchlines about Dick Cheney and his infamous quail hunt. Though Trey Parker and Matt Stone may have had their differences with Seth MacFarlane and his brand of humor, as was established with the famous flaming South Park gave Family Guy in the 2006 two-part episode “Cartoon Wars,” a fan in the South Park subreddit recently pointed out that Parker and Stone did, at least, have the same take on Cruise and his bizarre behavior as did MacFarlane and his manatees.

Now, to be fair, its not like South Park and Family Guy are the only two TV shows where its been insinuated that Cruise is a closeted homosexual with the subtlety of a sledgehammer — unoriginal gay jokes were all the rage when Cruise was stomping up Oprahs couch like Rick James. Still, South Parks satirical treatment of Cruises sexuality, first when he literally refused to come out of Stans closet in the 2005 episode “Trapped in the Closet” and again in “200” when hes shown as a literal fudge packer (please dont sue), is considered some of the most iconic comedy made about the subject to date.

And, as Reddit pointed out, Family Guy got plenty of its own shots in at Cruise’s sexuality, too, despite (or, possibly because of) the fact that MacFarlanes faced similar rumors in his own career. Who could forget when Katie Holmes anklet tracker lost power in “Lois Kills Stewie,” allowing her to free his captive coterie of Speedo-clad men? 

Look, in our presumably more enlightened time, its generally frowned-upon to openly question someones sexuality the way South Park and Family Guy did to Cruises back in the 2000s. Its also gone out of style for the simple fact that calling an overly well-groomed male actor gay as a joke is, frankly, hack, much in the same way any blond, short-haired, clean-shaven, male open-micer who claims to look like Ellen DeGeneres will get pity laughs at best. But if gay jokes about Tom Cruise could quell the feud between South Park and Family Guy even for a brief moment in the 2000s, we can let it slide — its still better than how they both treated Madonna.

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