13 August 2009

The Birth of Chef

On 13 August 1997, South Park debuted on Comedy Central and treated the world with the unforgettable visual of an animated character receiving an extraterrestrial anal probe. I remember watching the debut and leaving for college the next day, still laughing about it (I was also exasperated because I could only find one other person on campus who had also watched the cartoon and knew what I was talking about). We were also introduced to, along with four incredibly foul-mouthed little boys, one Jerome McElroy, also known as Chef. Isaac Hayes (who passed away on August tenth of last year, ten days before his 66th birthday) provided the vocals for the elementary school cook who would spontaneously break into song in order to educate Kyle, Stan, Kenny, and Cartman about sex, love, and relationships.

Hayes' voiceover work for the show ended bizarrely in 2005 when he, a longtime Scientologist, released a statement saying he would leave South Park because of the show's ridicule of his religion. This didn't seem to make sense to the program's creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone as they made sure to make fun of everyone over the years, but they publicly wished Hayes well and released him from his contract. Of course, they also crafted this episode where Chef returns to town, having been brainwashed into having an interest in pedophilia by the "Super Adventure Club" (ahem), and then dies a bloody and horrific death. It's worth noting, though, that there are some conspiracy theories that suggest that the Church of Scientology forced Hayes to quit the show and/or the Church was trying to conceal from the public that Hayes had suffered a debilitating stroke and thus wrote his resigning statement for him and released it on his behalf. The theories have yet to be proven but they still exist, especially since a stroke was Hayes' cause of death.

Here is a greatest hits compilation of sorts of Chef's songs. My faves...oh, hell, they all crack me up!

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