"South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have long made sport of skewering cultural icons, and are known for poking at religion with particular delight—from Jesus to Scientology to Mohamed in a bear suit, no faith is any safer than the celebrities ridiculed weekly on their Comedy Central show.
With that LOL-legacy in mind, I will admit that when I went to see their Broadway musical The Book of Mormon in previews last week (geeks: this is like your app being in beta before the 1.0 launches), I expected a few hours of clever Joseph Smith mockery. It was clever, there was some Joseph Smith, and much mockery. But the show was far more complex and entertaining than those expectations allowed. And holy golden tablets, was it ever packed with easter eggs for nerds: Mothra! Vader! Uhura! Yoda! Tolkien! Seriously!
Here is the TL;DR version: The Book of Mormon was fucking awesome. This is the funniest live show I have ever seen; tight, colorful, blasphemous, outrageous. The music, developed with Robert Lopez (of "Avenue Q" fame), was terrific. Throughout the evening, the entire audience was choking with ROFL. It does not matter if you are an atheist, an agnostic, or faithful (hell, even LDS), this show will make you laugh so hard you'll weep.
Matt Stone described the show to me as "an atheists's love note to religion." Both Stone and Parker are nonbelievers. "In a way," Parker has said, "'Star Wars' was our religion, and Spider-Man's a religion."
But Book of Mormon has more to do with how we create culture, and the roots of why humans express kindness or violence to one another, than some rote send-up of faith. I would feel just as confident taking my Catholic auntie to see this show as I would Richard Dawkins, and not just because I know they both appreciate a good scrotum joke and a chorus line. Wait what did I just type.
Opening night at the Eugene O'Neill Theater is March 24. If you are reading Boing Boing, you will love it, and you should go see it.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: email@example.com.