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Posted at 6:01 AM ET, 05/ 6/2010

Comedy Central: No to Muhammad -- but Yes! to Jesus

By Michael Cavna


Muhammad can't show his face around Comedy Central. But Jesus Christ is, as it were, a whole different story.

In announcing nearly two-dozen new projects in the pipeline, Comedy Central says it has an animated show "in development" that is titled "JC." As in, Jesus Christ. As in, a cartoon show about Christ trying to get out from the shadow of his "powerful but apathetic father" so He can lead a typical ol' New York life.

In other words: Don't expect the show's title character to be shrouded in black "Censored!" bars or quasi-depicted in a bear suit -- unlike recent would-be Muhammad moments.(Also bear in mind: "In development" is still a lonnng way off from ready-to-air.)

The Hollywood Reporter says Comedy Central's slate of would-be new shows also includes a live sex-chat talk show; an updating of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" (co-starring the very funny Bill Burr); and a show sprung from a Funny or Die Web short.

"In general, comedy in its purest form always makes some people uncomfortable," Comedy Central's original programming honcho Kent Alterman said of such shows as "JC." There is a valley of difference, of course, between making some viewers "uncomfortable," and Comedy Central executives being uncomfortable with the kind of comedy ("pure" or no) that sparks religious controversy; talk of violence against critics of Islam; and an expressed concern for the welfare of its employees.

It was just last month, of course, that Comedy Central's animated show "South Park" sparked a firestorm of attention after the New York-based Islamic group Revolution Muslim posted on its website an image of a fatally stabbed Dutch director Theo Van Gogh (and a noted critic of Islam) next to the caption: "Have Matt Stone And Trey Parker Forgotten This?"

Some Muslims consider any depiction of their prophet Muhammad to be blasphemous.

In a subsequent episode of "South Park," show creators Stone and Parker said, Comedy Central censored attempts to depict Muhammad and edited a speech about fear and intimidation. (That censorship brought support from cartoonists far and wide.) In last month's episodes, it is worth noting, Comedy Central reportedly did not edit the show's depictions of Christ.

Then again, that harks back to the show's very origins in the mid-'90s. "South Park's" first two animated shorts, according to longtime show lore, were titled "Jesus vs. Frosty" and the especially viral "Jesus vs. Santa."

If the so-called new "Jesus Cartoon" sounds like less than brilliant fare, consider that Comedy Central seems to have, er, high hopes for another show, "Highdeas" -- reportedly about a comedian who fields the kinds of questions only addicts in drug-induced states would ask.

Let he who is without guilty pleasures on cable cast the first stoner.

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By Michael Cavna  | May 6, 2010; 6:01 AM ET
Categories:  The Animation  | Tags:  Comedy Central, Islam, Jesus Christ, Matt Stone, Muhammad, South Park, Trey Parker  
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To make matters worse, the entire concept is a blatant ripoff of an animated, online satire called "JFC"

All they did was drop the F in the name of the show and stole the entire concept. The web series has a full season of episodes online... the premise? Jesus Christ returns to earth in the modern world, tries to just get by in a big city, living with roomates, working a day job, etc.

Sound familiar?


Posted by: dannymendlow | May 6, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

From the description of the series, I suspect its concept owes more than a small bit, too, to the "Son o'God Comics" series of comic-book parodies, written by Sean Kelly and illustrated by Neal Adams, that ran in "National Lampoon" in the early 1970s.

Posted by: seismic-2 | May 6, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

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