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South Park has had its fair share of controversy over the years, but the shock value generated by the show was always in service of comedy. The series has often lampooned real-life celebrities, taking the headlines and spinning them in hilarious fashion. One real-life character who showed up on the show often was former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone actually have an unbelievable story about how they got a signed photo of the departed despot. 

Rolling Stone named ‘South Park’ the 22nd best sitcom of all time

South Park boys in the cafeteria
L-R: Kyle, Kenny, Cartman and Stan | Comedy Central

South Park’s long run on Comedy Central is due to the show’s popularity. It’s built quite a fanbase in its multi-decade tenure on the network. It’s popular for a reason, of course: it blends the best of toilet humor with biting satire and incredibly sharp topical humor. 

As an arbiter of pop culture, Rolling Stone knows a thing or two about music, movies, and comedy. That’s why when they sit down to rank the top sitcoms of all time, it makes sense to take them seriously. In their list of the greatest sitcoms, they ranked South Park an impressive 22nd. 

The ranking is well-earned. South Park has done a great job taking figures from both pop culture and history and using them as comedic devices. For example, the show has taken many shots at Hussein over the years – particularly when he was still alive and kicking. 

Saddam Hussein’s role on ‘South Park’

Many famous people were included as characters in South Park. For example, baseball star Barry Bonds, actor Tom Cruise, and rapper/producer Kanye West have all been featured. Most of these characters end up resembling themselves but drawn in the same style as the rest of the characters on the show. Hussein was different. 

Hussein was portrayed with a high, squeaky voice. The creative team also used his actual face on his character, though his mouth would open and close in an over-the-top, ridiculous manner.

The send-up took a horrific, scary figure — a murderous dictator — and turned him into a clown. Hussein’s role on the show was major at first – he was a recurring character for several years. His appearances slowed when the real-life Hussein was tried and hung in Iraq. 

While Hussein may not be featured on the show anymore, Parker and Stone still have something to remember him by. 

U.S. Marines gifted the ‘South Park’ creators with a signed photo of Saddam Hussein


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Stone and Parker got a somewhat surprising gift from an even more surprising source. According to HuffPost, U.S. Marines tasked with guarding Hussein in the run-up to his 2006 execution sent the South Park creators an autographed picture of him. They also forced Hussein to watch South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut. According to Stone, it gives the duo a certain sense of pride: 

“We’re very proud of our signed Saddam picture and what it means. Its one of our biggest highlights…I have it on pretty good information from the marines on detail in Iraq that they showed Saddam the movie…Over and over again — which is a pretty funny thought. ‘That’s really adding insult to injury.'”