Trey Parker and Matt Stone won't be leaving the quiet mountain town of South Park, Colorado anytime soon. Viacom just signed a new $900 million deal with the duo that'll keep the long-running animated series going until 2027 — 30 years after it first hit the airwaves. Not everyone has been with South Park that long, though: in a new interview on The Daily Beast's podcast, The Last Laugh, actress and comedian Kristen Schaal opens up about her ultra-brief tenure in South Park's writers' room. "I didn’t last long," the Flight of the Conchords scene-stealer says. "I was there for like a month and... I got a warning that I was talking too much."
Schaal joined South Park's writing staff in 2007 as the show was heading into its 11th season. It was in the middle of a busy period for her, as Flight of the Conchords had just premiered on HBO and she was also performing a one-woman show in Edinburgh, Scotland. "While I was there, the South Park team had seen the Penelope Princess of Pets web videos that Kurt Braunholer and I had done," Schaal tells The Last Laugh host Matt Wilstein. "And I got asked to be a writer on the show. I was like, yeah!"
Beyond being an enormous South Park fan, Schaal also had a home state connection to the series, having been born and raised in Colorado. But as she explains to Wilstein, that fan enthusiasm worked against her in the writers' room. "I was pitching too much. I’d never been in a writers’ room before. So I was just like, let me earn my keep. I was like, 'How about this? How about this? How about this?' And that’s not how it works."
Schaal also says that Season 11's focus on movie parodies — episodes from that year spoofed Zack Snyder's blockbuster 300 alongside other big films — left her at a disadvantage. "My movie knowledge is not good. I couldn’t go there, so I just kept pitching another thing. So... yeah, they let me go. I could do a writers’ room now... but I was too nervous and too excited to be in there."
South Park's loss was Hollywood's gain: Schaal has gone on to play memorable roles in movies and shows ranging from The Muppets and Bill & Ted Face the Music to The Last Man on Earth and What We Do in the Shadows. She's currently one of the stars of the Disney+ series, The Mysterious Benedict Society alongside Tony Hale. And she says things are "all good" between her and the South Park creators now.
"When I got the call that I’d been let go, it was devastating," she recalls. "But I remember I talked to James Bobin, the co-creator of Flight of the Conchords, the day I got fired... He gave me good advice. He said, 'You’re going to get fired, you’re going to get hired, it’s fine.'" A few years after that, she crossed paths with Parker and Stone at a Comedy Central award ceremony. "They recognized me, and I was like 'Hey dudes, congratulations!' It was very friendly. So I always root for them. Everything they do is good." Maybe they can invite her back to write one of the 14 South Park movies they'll have to make for Paramount+.
South Park is currently streaming on HBO Max