When Bill Hader Worked on a Season of ‘South Park’


The big picture

  • Bill Hader's involvement with
    South Park
    it was a lesser-known chapter of his career, but it played an important role in his creative growth as an artist.
  • Hader joined
    South Park
    as a creative consultant, voice actor, writer and producer, contributing to some of the show's funniest episodes.
  • Working in
    South Park
    taught Hader the importance of emotional storytelling and comedic structure and the logical progression of events that elicit big laughs.

Fun and versatile, Bill Hader has come a long way in the last two decades. After breaking through as one of the stars of his generation Saturday night livethe Oklahoma native successfully pursued film acting and has reached new heights of acclaim both in front of and behind the camera with HBO. Barry. But perhaps a lesser-known chapter of his prolific career was his involvement in one of television's longest-running animated series. As it entered its 12th season in 2008, Hader joined South Park as a creative consultant and voice actor, and years later he would work as a screenwriter and producercontributing to some of the series' most memorable and divisive episodes.

South Park

It follows the misadventures of four irreverent elementary school students in the quiet and dysfunctional town of South Park, Colorado.

Publication date
August 13, 1997


Comedy Central

How did Bill Hader join 'South Park'?

Between its third and fourth season SNLBill Hader was filming Forgetting Sarah Marshall in Los Angeles when he met South Park co-creator Matt Stone. “We got along really well and got along really well,” Hader said vulture. “So first we became friends. Then, I met Trey Parker i South Park writer/producer Vernon Chatman and producer Anne Garefino.” While working on a project in Canada the following year, Hader traveled to Seattle to join Parker and Stone for a South Park withdrawal in which writers and producers meet and develop stories for upcoming episodes.

In May 2013, after an eight-year career he gave SNL some of his biggest laughs ever, Bill Hader left the show. Having moved to Los Angeles as South ParkThe 17th season was approaching, the opportunity to work on the show presented itself once again. Hader recalled vulture,” Matt said, 'If you want to come work for a full season, we'd love to have you.' I think one of his writers went to another show or something, so it was just Matt and Trey and Vernon.


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The stars of 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' and 'What We Do in the Shadows' have also signed on for the animated film.

Bill Hader is responsible for the “Fishstick” episode of South Park

One of Hader's first episodes has become one of the show's best and funniest, even drawing the ire of a megalomaniac megastar. Called “Fishsticks”, the episode saw Jimmy and Cartman play a prank in which the punchline was that Kanye West it's a gay fish (yes, really). After a humorless West doesn't get the joke, he forces himself to seek out the person responsible for making it popular and eventually crosses paths with the comedian. Carlos Mencia, who had developed a notorious reputation for stealing other people's jokes. About the organic and spontaneous evolution of the episode's creation, Hader said vulture:

“Kanye West wants to kill the person who made the joke. And then some guy comes in and says, 'Hey Kanye, we got the guy who made the joke.' We're all going to be like, 'So, my God, Kanye caught to Cartman.” The whole room goes like that, and then Vernon will say, “And it's Carlos Mencia.” And the whole room just loses it. We start laughing.”

Another memorable episode that saw Hader's input revolved around Cartman trying to get slaves. Hader said vulture“It's just Matt saying, “I was reading this article about the NCAA and how they don't pay anybody but they have these video games.” They make shitty money off these kids and don't pay them at all. It's like, 'It's slavery!'” Taking the idea and narrative of the episode further, Parker suggested that Cartman would hope to acquire slaves, and Hader pushed the concept even further, saying, “Oh, so it should go in like an old school. plantation owner.” Describing the fundamental building blocks and how they naturally fall into place, Hader recalls, “Trey will just do this voice in the room and everybody will start doing this voice in the room during, like now five minutes And then I'll say, 'Oh, well. Today I contributed.”

The lessons Bill Hader learned on 'South Park' can be heard in 'Barry'

Although South Park is largely known for his overtly silly and often controversial but topical sense of humor, it's easy to overlook the collaborative and linear nature of how such seemingly simplistic and raw ideas evolve over the course of a session brainstorming. Perhaps surprisingly, Bill Hader was interested in the level of importance that Trey Parker and Matt Stone placed on the emotional currents that drive their characters and the actions they take, regardless of the over-the-top comedic results. he said vulture:

“That's another thing I've learned on the show is that it has to be an emotional story. You feel Trey say that a lot. If we're telling a story that's about Cartman and we're telling another story about Kyle, he always says, 'What's Cartman's emotional story here?' That's really what drives it.”

Coming from a background of sketch comedy, which is of course thought out and planned, but flexible enough to allow for improvisation and fine-tuning, Hader's time was spent sketching out stories to South Park it proved valuable in learning the comic structure and logical progression of events that elicit big laughs. What began as a casual, periodic involvement in the writers' room eventually leading him to join the creative team full-time during the series' 17th season. he said vulture“Yeah, I'd love to. I learn a lot working there. You just learn how to break history.”

Perhaps it is not surprising that this since working on the series, Hader has taken greater creative control over some of his work. Years after his time with South Parkwrote numerous episodes for the comedy series Documentary now! and, in addition to leading the cast, co-created the hit HBO series Barry and wrote and directed several episodes. While discussing the writing process of BarryHader talked about writing in terms of emotion and logic in a way that is very reminiscent of his experience with South Park. he said The New Yorker, “You're always trying to keep them in balance, and sometimes you go too far with the emotions or the logic here, and it's just a slow balancing act of trying to get those two things to stick together.” Whether you contribute to something as strange and larger-than-life as South Park or exploring that same level of creativity with an acclaimed black comedy com BarryHader's application of emotion and logic to storytelling has evolved and been refined over time, and his limited tenure on the previous series has proven invaluable in his creative growth as an artist.

South Park is available to stream on Max in the US

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