South Park: "Fishsticks"

South Park: "Fishsticks"

Of all the celebrities ripe for a good South Park skewering, Kanye West is definitely up there, so when I heard that he’d play a big role in tonight’s “Fishsticks” I had high hopes. I’m not sure if you’re all aware of this, but besides making hip-and-hop records and jamming on the one, it’s also rumored that Mr. West has very high self-esteem. Some would even say he borders on boastful, and making light of that could be very droll. Very droll, indeed.
 
Another guy who could use a swift kick in the parody pants is Carlos “Retarded Noise” Mencia, a comedian whose popularity is a fine argument for hurrying the Apocalypse right along. As you have hopefully already learned from myriad YouTube videos of Joe Rogan shouting from his neck veins, Mencia is not only a notorious joke thief, but a man whose persona is so reliant on “beaner” stereotypes that it’s borderline minstrel. Joo know what I’m saying, holmes?
 
Unfortunately, instead of episodes focusing on throttling the comedic crap out of either Mr. SQUIDBRAINS!!! or Señor Panderito, we got this mish-mash that sorta kinda picked on both for being such slaves to their egos that they won’t—or maybe even can’t—listen to criticism. A salient point, sort of cleverly made, but something about the way it was executed left me underwhelmed. Let’s retrace our steps and see if we can figure out why!
 
As the episode begins, Jimmy’s trying to work up some new comedy material; Cartman is “pitching in” by eating potato chips and rejecting all of his ideas. (This is why it’s better just to write all your ideas down anyway, and leave the vetting to anonymous commenters on the Internet.) Inspiration strikes when Jimmy figures out that “fish sticks” sounds an awful lot like “fish dicks,” and thus the “you’re a gay fish” joke is born. It quickly takes the world by storm, turning up on all the major late-night talk shows, so naturally Carlos Mencia comes along to take credit for it. (“Because my brain is so full of ideas because I’m so funny and stuff.”)
 
Pissed-off Cartman tells Jimmy that they should take out a patent on the joke, despite the fact that Cartman actually had nothing to do with its creation. (Playing his usual role in a Cartman-centric episode, Kyle tells Jimmy to stand up to him; Craig, ever the pragmatist, tells Jimmy to save himself the trouble and just give Cartman half.) Of course, that’s not the way Cartman remembers it going down: In a series of increasingly funny flashbacks, Cartman goes from writing the joke singlehandedly, to writing the joke singlehandedly and slaying a dragon, to wearing a cool leather jacket, becoming the Human Torch to save the town from a legion of Jew-bots, and then writing the joke singlehandedly. Kyle points out that he believes Cartman really thinks he did all of this, because “that’s how people like you work”—i.e., their brains go into self-protection mode because their egos can’t handle the truth.
 
Meanwhile, Kanye West is the one person on Earth who doesn’t seem to get the “fish sticks” joke, or why everyone is suddenly insinuating he’s a gay fish, but he vows to do everything he can to get to the bottom of it. When diagramming on the dry-erase board fails, he makes the natural leap to having his entourage find Mencia, tie him up, and beat the shit out of him. Mencia makes the mistake of repeating the punchline, so Kanye—unswayed by Mencia’s admission that he has no dick and pees in a little plastic bag—takes Mencia’s head off with a baseball bat and stuffs some fish sticks down his neckhole.
 
Of course, then Kanye catches Jimmy and Cartman on Ellen saying they were the ones responsible, so it’s off to South Park to wrap up the third act. After Kanye gets them all tied up, Cartman and Jimmy continue to quibble about who actually wrote the joke, when Cartman suddenly comes to a backward-ass realization about the destructive power of the ego, and how sometimes it’s so out of whack that it makes it impossible for one to “accept the truth about who they are.” This really hits home for Kanye, and he realizes what people have been trying to tell him all along: He is indeed a gay fish, and it’s time for him to go home and start fucking some flounders, y’all.
 
Here’s my problem, if indeed I have one: That Kanye and Carlos Mencia both suffer from self-delusion is a given, so I can see why this episode’s “message” seemed apt for both. But you know, I can’t help feeling it would have been sharper if it had stuck to only one of them. Kanye in particular has so many glaring, mile-wide facets to his bullshit that we could have easily spent an episode on him, while this particular storyline probably would have worked best as a solo slam on Mencia’s salsa-flavored shuck-and-jive. But cramming them together—even mixed in with Cartman’s very funny fantasy sequences—felt too cobbled to me, and the time limits imposed by cutting back and forth between it all made the respective digs start to feel a little too one-note. Anyway, I was all set to give it a straight “C,” but then Kanye dove into the ocean and started singing about being a gay fish to the tune of “Heartless,” and that was really funny. Worth a slight upgrade.
 
Grade: C+
 
Stray observations:
 
- “It’s Puff Daddy!”
 
- Just so we’re clear, I’m aware that Kanye has long been accused of being gay.
 
- I checked Kanye’s blog before posting just to make sure he hadn’t already written a rebuttal, but all I found was a photo of Jay-Z and Beyonce that he called “dooooooope” three times, a Justice remix of that stupid U2 song, and links to some sneakers he likes. Stay tuned!
 
- “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah. We are comedy writers, and you guys aren’t!”
 
Filed Under: TV, South Park

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