What's So Funny about Mormons?

Article excerpt

Byline: Jacob Bernstein

South park's pranksters take aim at the latter-day saints in broadway's most obscene and--Yes--reverent Musical yet.

What is it about those Latter-day Saints that's so funny? Just about everything, say Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the South Park masterminds whose new musical, The Book of Mormon, debuts on Broadway March 24. They have a perverse fondness for what they call the religion's inexplicable "anachronisms," like the belief that Jews settled in America thousands of years before Christopher Columbus, the historical practice of polygamy, and that magical long-john underwear. Mostly, they love the tale of a guy named Joseph Smith who is inspired by an angel to dig up some golden plates containing God's word, then gives them back. "If God gave me golden plates, I'd keep them. I'd want people to see them," Stone says.

So Parker and Stone dreamed up their own tale: about two 19-year-old Salt Lake City boys sent to Uganda as missionaries. It's a coming-of-stage story dripping in dirty jokes, with irreverent, offensive showstoppers such as a "Hakuna Matata"-esque number with the chorus "F--k You, God." Sample lyrics: "80 percent of us have AIDS" and "there are maggots in my scrotum. …