BB Video: How's Your News? Comedy/News by Disabled People, Produced by South Park's Matt + Trey.

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About a year ago, Boing Boing's video production crew was having our weekly content pitch meeting and my colleague Jolon brought up a video project he'd been following called "How's Your News." It was a news program in which the presenters are people with physical and mental disabilities. Some have Downs Syndrome, others cerebral palsy, and so on.

We didn't get around to producing a BB feature, but then just this past weekend, I met with Matt Stone and learned that he and fellow South Park creator Trey Parker are producing a version of How's Your News as a new MTV series. It debuts this Sunday, February 8.

He kindly offered to allow us to take a sneak peek at the first few episodes, and cut together an exclusive preview. That is today's episode of Boing Boing Video.

Matt explained that he and Trey are mostly hands-off with regard to the creative and editorial process on the MTV series, they're more like "godfathers" on the television project. HYN creator and director Arthur Bradford and the correspondents are pretty much in charge. It sounds like MTV has handled the project admirably, too.

When I first saw the internet version, I remember first feeling a little guilty or awkward for laughing at people with disabilities on-screen. But when I watched the MTV episodes in entirety with the BBV crew, I started to feel like I knew these people, and was more comfortable with it the more I watched. Maybe part of the lesson here is that people with disabilities are real people. They don't need me to feel "precious" or "protective" about them. It is okay to laugh with them, and when they are being funny in a comedy series, it's okay to laugh at them, too. Not as people to be pitied, just as people.

Matt Stone tells Boing Boing,
One of the first things that Arthur Bradford said about doing How's Your News as a TV show was that he absolutely didn't want to pitch the show to Lifetime or PBS or anyplace else where you would EXPECT a show like this. He wanted to fly into the center of the sun and have the show on MTV. The How's Your News crew is about redefining expectations and the show is by far their best work. It is my favorite show on television beside South Park....
Heh. And I asked Arthur Bradford to share some words with us, too. He says:
I think the big question everyone has about our TV series goes something like this "Does this show really belong on MTV? Aren't all those kids going to laugh for all the wrong reasons?" I have so many thoughts about that I don't know where to begin, but let me just say that I think this line of questioning does a sort of disservice to both people with disabilities and the kids who watch MTV. People with disabilities don't really need a bunch of watchdogs looking out for their "best interests". They are most often able to do this themselves and I can assure you our cast is extremely proud of the work they did on this show, as are their families. And the kids who watch MTV are much smarter than we are giving them credit for. They deserve something like this, a show that doesn't assume they can't decide things for themselves.

We had a lot of fun shooting this series. Everywhere we went people would stare at the bus and come up and talk to us. For me, as the director, it was often exhausting and sometimes stressful, like when one of our reporters would have a seizure or shit their pants in the middle of shooting something important. Both of these things happened more than I'd like to recall. But it was overall a pretty magical experience and the fact this this show is now going to air on primetime and be available to so many households across America is something we should all rejoice in. It's a small miracle, really. We're like that guy on the British American Idol, Paul Potts, the car phone salesmen who got up there and shook everyone up with his passionate opera voice. He was pure genuine desire and authenticity without the annoying gloss and it was great to see him break through. That's what you'll see on How's Your News: pure, unpolished gems.

And about Jeremy, the HYN correspondent waving to you in the video frame above and in the middle of the trio below (photo), Arthur says:
Jeremy Vest is one of our greatest reporters. He is so eager to talk to everyone and he would not even know how to be a fake douchebag like so many people we see on TV. My favorite moment with him was on the red carpet at the Grammys when he blew off all the big pop stars like Rianna and Slash because really wanted to talk to the guy who did the voice for Kermit the Frog. He literally refused to talk to Slash because he was so concerned that Kermit would leave before he got the chance to say hello. For Jeremy, meeting that muppet was the biggest thrill of the night, that and meeting Wolfgang Puck.
Here's more on the MTV series, which you can catch on-air starting this Sunday, February 8. Notorious crankypants critic Tom Shales at the Washington Post gave it a good review. I'm looking forward to it.

How's Your News MTV series promo photo (I didn't shoot this)


  1. I think your link meant to go here:

    I’ve been a huge fan of these guys for years. It’s amazing how something so positive can elicit knee-jerk negative reactions from people who haven’t seen it. Basically the core of it is that people are made uncomfortable by anyone who is ‘different’ and want to push them out of sight. I think this show is the best thing ever… and yes, it IS hilarious but also poignant and empowering. Maybe somebody at MTV has a soul after all… but then again, who am I kidding?

  2. MTV,,Soul,,,hahahahaha!

    “So it was our beloved Corporate Gods claimed they created rock video,
    Allowing it to sink as low in one year as commercial TV has in twenty five.”

    Back to the point,,,Matt and Trey, a nice thing to do and a great job!

  3. Oh. And thanks for telling me about this. I’ve been doggedly ignoring MTV for years now but this is definitely getting some Tivo time.

  4. Everyone bitching about MTV, stuff it. Give the project some respect, and either watch it or don’t. But whining about MTV is tired. Who cares what fucking network it’s on? It’s an interesting show. If this post bores you, or the network is so abhorrent you must avert your eyes, do so, but shut up about it.

  5. another out-moted ‘This American Life’ episode has found its second-wind in the anals of BoinBoing, once again without mention.

  6. I remember reading about this in Vice Magazine in like 1998. Did a network only just pick this up, or are Parker and Stone just ripping off an old idea?

  7. I put up with the BBTV commercials to watch this and it was well worth it.
    This is why I come here is to find out about stuff like this.

  8. Explain how the same crowd that made The Hills a hit is not going to laugh at this show for all the wrong reasons.

  9. Several of the crew, including Jeremy have Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder often compared to Down Syndrome. Since it is a micro-deletion of a different genetic region, though, it causes a whole different set of symptoms. The Williams Syndrome Association has a web site with a lot of information about it (

    My 8 year old son has WS and I am following HYN very closely. There is a great deal of interest in how the typical MTV audience will receive the show.

    I’m looking forward to it and am glad BB is covering it.

  10. I am sorry. The post is Very Good, but MTV deserves mounds of scorn for it’s past racial polices and the crapifying of American culture think Sweet sixteen, years without any African American performers outside of Micheal Jackson etc,,,. That this show is on MTV I count on the plus side, one of a few they have garnered in recent years.
    I am one of I bet many boingboing readers who do not watch MTV regardless of programming but it is nice to see them out on a limb once again. Also while this program may or may not be a ground breaker, the basis of the show is to make money by selling advertising. MTV is not and will never be an altruistic organization.

  11. The HOW’S YOUR NEWS film is great great great. but from what i’ve seen of these teasers….the show looks to be pretty terrible watered down version.

  12. Stone and Parker financed the full-length feature which was made a few years ago, so I don’t think they’re ripping anything off.

    One of my favorite things about these guys is how they’ll often ask the same person the same question multiple times; when they’re talking to celebrities, it makes their stock answers and poses falter, and sometimes you even get a sincere moment from them.

  13. Shit, that had some good laughs, i’ll be sure to start downloading this show when it comes out!

    Thanks Xeni, you made my Thursday!

  14. As a mom to a teen with disabilities, I think this looks wonderful!
    My son is funny, and sweet, and honest- able to question the emperor’s clothes type honest. He has a muti-faceted personality that most people never see, either because they write him off due to first appearances or because they’ve been taught not to look too closely at people who have differences from the norm.

    and was that Beatle Bob at the concert at the end?

    big smiles here, thanks!!

  15. @ #8, 9, & 11 (and all the other nay-sayers)

    Some points of clarity:

    How’s Your News? has been around since 1998 and originally started off as a cool project idea for a camp for adults with disabilities. The documentary that NOUGAT mentioned (great film BTW) was produced by Matt Stone and Trey Parker- this is not a ripoff- they’ve been with them since almost day one.

    They’ve made a number of short films since, and their crew has grown. They made a pitch to several networks, and MTV gave them the green light.This is NOT corporate exploitation, nor reformulation of old ideas.

    What struck me about these episodes was how I found myself laughing at these people, and feeling okay about it. That’s the point- you’re not laughing at them because your degrading them b/c they have a disability- you’re laughing at them b/c they’re crazy funny! I only wish I had the comic energy that these guys do.

  16. -to the folks bitching about it being old hat.

    The folks doing “Hows your new’s?” have indeed been doing it for for long time its obviously an ongoing and important part of their daily lives.
    From time to time they get some media coverage for it.

    Instant convenience culture is instantly disposable.

    But real people, with real lives sometimes go on living for quite sometime, and sometimes they even continue to do the things they enjoy doing even if you don’t think its hip.

    People with downs syndrome will still exist even after you think being retarded is totally “played out”. I apologize to you for this inconvenience.

    Btw, Happy Birthday Angrydroid!


    Who cares if it’s MTV? It’s not about MTV- you’d be seeing the same story regardless of the network. I think NEHPETSE hit the nail on the head:

    “People with downs syndrome will still exist even after you think bring retarded is totally ‘played out.'”

    So grow up.

  18. The news team totally rocks. Zero pretention, fantastic questions, great energy, wonderful expressions. Very enjoyable. This stuff beats the hell out of any reality tv show on mtv or anywhere else, really. Dude, he ripped the neck off that mannequin! That was awesome!

  19. @15 thanks for the link to This American Life. I enjoy Ira Glass and NPR. I didn’t know it was covered there before. Very cool!

  20. I love it. If you only look for a second or two at someone who’s disabled, then look away because you think it’s polite, all you know about them is that they’re disabled. When you keep watching, you start to see what they’re doing.

  21. I am wondering why it is not polite to talk about MTV. I think it is a valid concern to evaluate the source of the media and wonderful things that are brought to attention by boingboing.

    In the same way that previous discussions would, say, discuss the sources and authors of the information and books Charles Platt was referencing, shouldn’t we discuss the source of other media?

    That said, I am very interested to see how this show would be received. The remarks about the network’s demographics is poignant, and I wonder how it will be seen by the MTV-viewing public.

  22. And on another note about MTV, since some of you are still complaining, maybe you should actually read the blog post?

    “One of the first things that Arthur Bradford said about doing How’s Your News as a TV show was that he absolutely didn’t want to pitch the show to Lifetime or PBS or anyplace else where you would EXPECT a show like this.”-Matt Stone

    “I have so many thoughts about that I don’t know where to begin, but let me just say that I think this line of questioning does a sort of disservice to both people with disabilities and the kids who watch MTV…the kids who watch MTV are much smarter than we are giving them credit for. They deserve something like this.” Arthur Bradford

  23. I apologize if I offended anyone in my comment at #23. It was a lame attempt to make fun of Bill O’ Reilly, but certainly not people with legitimate disabilities.

    I think the MTV show is a great idea.

  24. When I was a teenager and watched MTV, I went on a field trip with a youth group to Magic Mountain where we led a group of students with disabilities around for the day. It was a wonderful experience and one I’ve never forgotten. I think the show might be really well received by today’s MTV viewers, and yeah, they deserve to see it.

  25. Friendly Amendment – Headline should be changed to read:

    “BB Video: How’s Your News? Comedy/News by People with Disabilities, Produced by South Park’s Matt + Trey.”

    They’re people first, disabilities second.

  26. @37
    I don’t want to start anything but…really? I’m sure no offense or belittlement was intended from the choice of article title. I find it a real stretch to find fault in the use of an adjective as some kind of snipe. The article itself makes it pretty clear that they are people with disabilities and not something else.

    Somehow I don’t see this show playing that well next to a line-up of pimp my ride, let my parents pick my new girlfriend, and I’m super rich and pretentious so watch me be bitchy at my 16th birthday party. Ya know?

  27. @39
    It wasn’t meant as a snipe, hence the Friendly Amendment designator. Having worked with adults with developmental disabilities, the order of the words is not trivial, and is in fact very powerful in terms of perception and identity.

  28. @#8 – “another out-moted ‘This American Life’ episode has found its second-wind in the anals of BoinBoing, once again without mention.”

    Sweet band name: The Anals of BoinBoing.

  29. I’m somewhat reminded of the Jackass episode featuring the guys from Murderball, which involved (among other things) quadriplegics in wheelchairs shocking each other with a cattle prod for fun.

    I’m not personally connected to either of these communities, but I think I’m down with the general idea, which is that you have to get people you’d consider “disadvantaged” the opportunity to poke fun at themselves, or shock each other with cattle prods, to give them a full measure of personhood in society. I think.

  30. Howard Stern used to cover these folks all the time, and his show used versions of the “How’s Your News?” theme to kick off their own news hour for years. I only bring it up because I know he likes to get credited with everything he was ever remotely involved in.

  31. Man, Murderball was like the best documentary of all time. I loved that movie. What a great story… true story! Fortunately there are no cattle prods in that movie or I doubt I would have liked it so much.

  32. Look what happens when you get everyone on the stage. The end scene at SXSW is an apt metaphor. I’m so, so happy to have seen this today.

  33. Wait… you mean these people aren’t faberge eggs who will shatter if not swept into a closet?


    Personally, I can’t wait to see some of these episodes. Particularly if you notice the part where the one guy is interviewing ‘the bird lady’. His reaction, his questions are EXACTLY what every sane person are thinking but are two socially conscious to display. It’s amazing.

  34. Fascinating. I thought it was going to be exploitative from the brief text description, and was instead incredibly fun and heartwarming.

  35. > Wait… you mean these people aren’t faberge eggs who will shatter if not swept into a closet?

    No, which is why I think this is nothing but pandering claptrap.

    1. When freak shows were made illegal, the result was that the people who closed them got to feel morally superior and the freaks had no way to support themselves. It sucks, but that’s what happened. I understand the concern that the people involved in this might be mocked or exploited, but they’re actually doing it and getting something out of it.

      How many people who condemn this show would move over to the next aisle at the supermarket if you saw that someone with trisomy 21 was going to bag your groceries and you might actually have to interact with them? Sometimes hifalutin morals are an excuse for wanting to sweep disabled people into a closet.

  36. BoingBoing, I’d just like to thank you for not mixing up the volume for the advertisements in these videos. I never realized it until now. Something about hearing an ad at a gentle volume with Xeni herself doing the voiceover is actually pretty awesome.

  37. Applause and thanks to The Bark Petition for #37!

    Regardless of whether the title gets changed or not, I am sure Xeni wants reduce any barriers that would prevent someone from reading her posts – including the use of terminology that offends or marginalizes. Now we are all more informed and have the opportunity to apply that knowledge in the future.

  38. Great, great stuff. My sister has Down Syndrome and I’ve been doing volunteer work with mentally handicapped people for 12 years, and this teaser made me laugh till I cried. I can’t wait to see the full show. I’ll probably have to download it though, as I’m in Europe, but if/when it arrives on DVD I’ll definitely buy a copy or two.

  39. I’ve actually known these people for years, and I think the show is hilarious. I also think it is empowering for both them and the viewers to see and realize just how real and down to Earth these people are. They are unique in their own way, and certainly not something to make fun of. I think the questions they come out with are off the wall, and the reactions they get from are even better.

    The only problem I have is with the “MTV” part. I understand MTV likes to be “cutting edge”, but somehow I can’t see how that target audience will laugh at the show for the right reasons. MTV might be too cutting edge for the maturity level of their own audience…

    I can’t see how kids and teens who watch shows like “The Hills”, “Double Shot At Love”, and “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF” will take the show for what (I hope) it was meant to be.

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