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October 24, 2014

South Park: The Return of Chef!

by Adam Finley, posted Mar 23rd 2006 10:00AM

Chef South Park[This episode review contains spoilers]

Isaac Hayes' time spent on South Park was no accident. He was the always the first and only choice to play Chef, and creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone worked hard to convince him their silly little cartoon would be worth doing. Over the better part of a decade, Hayes seemed to really embrace both the character and the show's brutal satire.

And until a few days ago, everything remained seemingly copacetic. Suddenly, however, Hayes left the show over its jabs at religion, leading many, including the show's creators, to believe he had actually left the show over the "Trapped in the Closet" episode which made fun of Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology, of which Hayes is also a member.

Then came news that Chef would actually be making a triumphant return to the show in the season opener. Comedy Central remained wisely closed-lipped about the episode and what Chef's role would be, but that didn't stop a lot of mainstream media outlets from speculating on the new episode, even though Comedy Central ultimately gave them no real information.

I imagined they would probably just use old clips of Hayes playing Chef to provide Chef's voice, and had I actually blogged about it I'd be able to say I told you so, since that's exactly what they did. What I didn't expect was for this little "trick" to result in one of the most hysterical and bittersweet episodes of South Park I've ever seen.

When Chef returns to South Park after joining the Secret Adventure Club, an organization that travels the world molesting young children, he seems different. Cartman describes Chef as "trippy" and things get even "trippier" when he starts telling the children he wants to make sweet love to them. In one scene that made me laugh so hard I nearly fell off my couch, several of Chef's lines from previous episodes were combined to form the sentence, "I want to stick my balls in your rectum, Kyle."

Parker and Stone's humor has always been drawn from anger. Their anger this time, however, was not centered on Chef. Sure, the episode made him out to be a brainwashed freak who winds up having his face torn off by wild animals and turned into a Darth Vader-esque figure by the "fruity little club" he belongs to, but it was made clear that it was the club (read: Scientology) that did this to Chef. After Chef falls to what appears to be his death, there's a very poignant moment where Stan shakes his fists at the Super Adventure Club headquarters and screams, "You killed Chef!" to which Stan replies, "You bastards!"

Rage, to paraphrase Mel Brooks, is the ultimate fuel for satire. The guiding ethos of South Park has always been a deep-seeded anger towards people and institutions that take themselves too seriously. When someone they care about winds up hurt by these same people and institutions, the rage, and ultimately, the humor, increases ten fold. It's a shame that Hayes chose to leave South Park (or did he?) but if we can find even a small amount of good from this, it's that Chef's farewell episode will probably be remembered as one of the funniest, and most memorable, of the series.

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Isa

idiots, it is not Tom, but Isaac hayes!

the show will rerun they said!

losers!

March 30 2006 at 2:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason Anderson

This is awesome. But the one that tkaes the cake is the one that was banned, Trapped in the Closet. These two make up some of the finest stuff South Park ever had. I love this show, because it's topical. And can make fun of something within a week of it happening. Now if only new episodes didn't show up every 8 months. Sheesh.

Keep it coming, Matt and Trey.

March 26 2006 at 9:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Malcontent

Oops, I mean at my URL link ...

March 23 2006 at 6:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Malcontent

Copious clips here.

March 23 2006 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
corbett

You could kind of see it coming, and yet I died laughing when the screen flashed with...

"This is what Super Adventure Club Actually Believes"

March 23 2006 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scott

the speech at the end was heartbreaking, it seems that issac had been a great person to work with and what has (or hasn't) happened over the past couple of weeks hurt them deeply.

(note to self: never hurt trey parker or matt stone deeply)

They did a great job of balancing their respect for Hayes with the absolute disdain for scientology.
at first i was crying 'cause i was laughing so hard, but i think by the end i was kinda just crying?

Isn't there some mark twain award for great american satire? Trey and Matt deserve that for this episode.
like the terrence and phillip rip-off guinness guys say, "brilliant!"

March 23 2006 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Katie

Without repeating what everyone else has said again (I agree that it was South Park at its finest!), I must say that Matt and Trey managed to maintain respect for Chef/Isaac Hayes in the eulogy that Stan gave at the end. It was their message to all viewers that the anger should be directed at the "super adventure club"/Scientology, and not at Hayes, with whom the fans have loved throughout the years. I didn't see any tinge in this episode of an "F You" to Isaac Hayes.

Also of interest: The YouTube video of the Scientology
episode from November that started it all has now been viewed well over a quarter of a million times, at 340,000 views and counting.

March 23 2006 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Faith

It's deep-seated, not deep-seeded. :o)

I've only seen Southpark once before in my life, but that was one funny show.

March 23 2006 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alan

As I saw someone say to the Sports Guy on his ESPN.com chat. These two guys are unbelievable because they have unimaginable financial security and can say whatever they want and dont care what anyone thinks. Last nights episode was so funny, you wont find another show that will compare a religion to child molestors. Just such good stuff.

March 23 2006 at 12:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
shawn mccollum

I know that the scientology episode is banned but they managed to get a little jab at cruise in the opening credits. Towards the end of the credits there is a 1 second clip of cruise going into the closet. I hit rewind and watched it over and over and laughed and laughed.

March 23 2006 at 11:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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