Trey Parker is best known for his work on the television program South Park. Along with his college friend Matt Stone, he created this show occasionally referred to as "Peanuts on acid", and the two now act as writers, voice actors, and executive producers. One character, Stanley Marsh, is closely based on Parker. In fact, Stan's family shares their names with Trey's family, Randy, his father, Sharon, his mother, and Shelley, his older sister. His father is even a geologist (like Stan's father on the show). Actually, a lot of the characters in South Park are based on people Matt and Trey knew while growing up.
Randolph Severn Parker III was born on October 19, 1969 in Conifer, Colorado. At a young age Parker became interested in music. A huge fan of Sir Elton John (he was knighted, you know), at age of twelve, Parker started learning to play the piano by mimicking the British pop artist. He also became a big fan of Broadway musicals such as Les Miserables. After high school he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts for a year before transferring to University of Colorado at Boulder to study filmmaking. Here is where he met Matt Stone.
Parker's first construction paper animation was a class assignment titled American History (1991). Parker and a classmate recorded Parker's Japanese roommate, Jun Nishimura, explaining everything he knew of American history. They then created the animation to go with it using construction paper, because they had slacked it and didn't have enough time to incorporate conventional animation. While in film school Parker worked on several live action shorts as well as another animation that continued with the construction paper form called Frosty Vs. Santa Claus the predecessor to The Spirit of Christmas.
Trey dropped out (or was kicked out) of film school as he found himself too busy with a live action film project to bother attending class. The project, Cannibal! the Musical (1994), which was written by, directed by, produced by, scored by, and starred Parker, was originally written as a short and turned into a 95 minute full feature. A lampoon of Oklahoma! style musicals, the film chronicles the zany antics of 19th century convicted cannibal Alfred Packer. Though the movie did play Sundance it never really went anywhere (at least not until Parker achieved later fame), but one fan hired Matt and Trey to create an animation he could use as a Christmas card. The result was The Spirit of Christmas (1995) a five minute short, which established the four main character of South Park; Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny.
Like American History the voices were recorded first, impromptu, and then the animation was created. The Spirit of Christmas was originally sent out to 80 people on videocassette. But it was so outrageous people felt inclined to make copies and send it out themselves. The short made its way all over the United States, including Hollywood, but because Matt and Trey never put their names on the short, no one was sure who had made it. One of Parker's friends actually sent him a copy a few months later exclaiming, "You've got to see this." Once it was known who the creators were a bidding war to produce a show (or movie) based on the short ensued. They finally settled a deal with Comedy Central because of the creative freedom the network offered. Premiering on August 13, 1997, South Park was an instant success.
The two tried their hands at live action again, without much success. Orgazmo (1997), the story of a Mormon missionary turned porn star, earned an NC-17 rating in the United States, which drastically limited the number of screens for its release. Next Trey and Matt signed on with BASEketball (1998) that, with South Park's audience growing by the minute, did significantly better than Orgazmo. However, fans were expecting more of a South Park feel that the movie lacked. Taking note of this, Matt and Trey set out to make a full feature animated picture. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1999) was wildly successful and better helped people understand the political undertones to Trey Parker's work. Additionally Parker was able to compose 11 new songs for the musical, one of which, Blame Canada, was nominated for an Academy Award. (I actually got to watch this for the second time in Canada, which added a little something to the experience.)
Parker and Stone made an attempt at a live action sitcom titled That's My Bush! about the fictional antics of George W. Bush. The two have also produced and performed on several albums including Chef Aid: The South Park Album and Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics under the name DVDA. Currently Parker and stone are working on Team America: World Police, a marionette cast full feature. And with South Park's continued success in its eighth season he keeps pretty busy.