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The Real Reason South Park Laid Off The Donald Trump Jokes

"South Park" has always made fun of current politicians, and Donald Trump was no exception, at least for a while. The series mostly portrayed Trump not as a straightforward version of himself who shares the same name, as they did with other politicians such as Hilary Clinton, but as a version of the eccentric South Park Elementary teacher, Mr. Garrison, who becomes the U.S. president against all odds and despite begging his fans to elect Clinton instead — with Caitlyn Jenner, not Mike Pence, as his vice president.

As a satirical show, "South Park" usually plays off reality for inspiration, then creates an alternate version of reality that is more ridiculous and humorous but still recognizable. However, at a certain point, "South Park" laid off the jokes about Trump and started focusing on other topics, even though Trump remained a significant presence in the news. In fact, "South Park" did not tackle Trump in Season 21. Instead of having him continue on as president, "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone had Mr. Garrison return to his teaching job in South Park. "South Park" fans believe this is when Mr. Garrison is at his best.

Donald Trump is both too funny and too scary to satirize

In an interview with "7.30," "South Park" co-creator Trey Parker expressed what was challenging about making fun of Donald Trump: "It's tricky now because satire has become reality," he said. "We were really trying to make fun of what was going on but we couldn't keep up, and what was actually happening was much funnier than anything we could come up with." This would certainly be an issue since fans of satire come to expect certain conventions from the genre, which is meant to take reality as its basis but also expand upon reality to make it more humorous than it actually is. "So we decided to kind of back off and let them do their comedy and we'll do ours," Parker added.

"South Park" featured Trump/Mr. Garrison quite a bit during the real Trump's actual presidential campaign; however, things changed after he actually became president. In an interview with Collider, Parker and Matt Stone noted, "Now we were just full-on scared that he's President. Now we're just scared for our lives, so we wanted this idea of like–not only had we had it that everyone was starting to get more and more terrified of the president, but the president himself was feeling more and more stuck and put in a hole, so we figured maybe it's time to bring Garrison back and let him come back to town." 

Apparently, the president's actual election marked a difference in how Parker and Stone viewed him: from comic inspiration into a type of comedy in itself that is also scary.

Are Trey Parker and Matt Stone done with Trump forever?

Trey Parker and Matt Stone's hiatus from making jokes about Donald Trump may turn out to be only temporary. In an interview with "The Bill Simmons podcast," the "South Park" creators admitted that they were disappointed when Trump won the election because they did not want to deal with portraying a Trump presidency on the show. During the presidency, it seems that Parker and Stone were not sure how to channel the combination of fear, laughter, and disbelief that they were experiencing into effective satirical jokes about Trump for "South Park." However, now that Trump is no longer president, will they pick back up with making jokes about him? 

Parker and Stone may not bring Trump jokes back to "South Park" specifically, but they could develop other projects that make fun of Trump. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Parker and Stone revealed that they had actually begun working on a feature-length "deep-fake" film about a character based on Trump, and onto whose body the former president's face is superimposed. Parker said, "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.'" 

The film, which was timely before the COVID-19 pandemic, is "sort of on hold" for now because times have changed. However, it is certainly possible that Parker and Stone could pick the project back up and edit it to be relevant once again.