What South Park Can Teach Us About Living With Creativity On The Edge

Why being on the hook to ship is good for us even before we have an idea...

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South Park is the Saturday Night Live of cartoons. Writing for each episode begins on a Thursday morning and the show gets uploaded hours before it airs on Comedy Central the following Wednesday night. Nothing is written before the season starts.

The intimidating nature of this cadence is driven by a myth of ‘the big idea’.

Examining how Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park have done this for the past 22 seasons can help us debunk it and it will expose us to a heightened way we can move through life.

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Delivering a creative concept, whether for fun or for livelihood is the opposite of say, signing up for a half-marathon. Race prep is a regimen but creative output can’t be guaranteed with an amount of miles or hours.

Now, Matt and Trey certainly put in the hours but they aren’t successful because they get struck with a big idea every week. Their genius lies in their ability to observe what’s around and call out the absurdities that we all miss. What makes South Park special is the way Matt and Trey interpret the world.

This is what they have to teach us about the job of an artist.

A comfortable artist has the luxury of toiling in his studio until the muse pays a visit. But when our creativity is on the hook, it engages new creative muscles. It changes the way we move.

We go from waiting to being on the prowl. We enter a heightened realm, more observant, more deliberate, more analytical, more astute, more critical, more interested, more on edge, more curious, more perplexed. Everything becomes fodder in the studio of life.

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Being on the hook compels action but at the same time requires quiet. If we listen we will notice that the universe tends to point us.

Being on the hook isn’t about jumping into something unprepared. It’s about taking the fear out of preparation and embracing the mystery.

It’s not about capturing lightning bolts. It’s about living with our radars on.

It’s about spotting the magic that is hidden in plain sight and bringing it out for the rest to see.

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We should mention that although impressive, Matt and Trey’s streak isn’t totally perfect. They missed a show once back in 2013. The power went out[1].

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What do you guys think about this idea of having your creativity on the edge? Have you experienced this before? Leave a comment and let us know. We’d love to hear about it!


[1] https://ew.com/article/2013/10/16/south-park-deadline/