This post is OK for work, but major warnings on the videos, especially the first two.
The always interesting Today I Found Out Has an interesting post on the history of South Park:
Once upon a time, way back in 1992, there were two young students at the University of Colorado named Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They collaborated on a crudely done short film called “Jesus vs. Frosty” which caught the eye of FOX exec Brian Graden in 1995. He hired the two lads to create another animated short that he could send to friends as a video Christmas greeting.
Parker and Stone came up with another film called “Jesus vs. Santa” (I’m sensing a theme here) that featured a martial arts battle between the Christmas rivals, followed by a subsequent mutual meeting of the minds over the true meaning of the holiday. This video was shared widely on the Internet and led to the creation of a series on Comedy Central.
It sent me looking for the short precursors from the mid-90's (major language warning for these videos - not safe for work or kids). I saw Jesus vs Santa Claus before Jesus vs Frosty, which was actually made a few years earlier, and in which, if you can imagine, the animation was less sophisticated. Also, when they killed Kenny, he was drawn as Cartman.
Jesus vs Santa Claus (again - NSFW language)
Jesus vs Frosty (and once again - NSFW language)
Today is the anniversary of the airing of the first episode from the actual show - read the whole post at Today I Found Out (and buy their excellent book, several of which I gave out as Christmas presents).
The pilot episode of South Park, Cartman Gets an Anal Probe (video below) aired on August 13, 1997, and quickly earned the highest rating of any basic cable program. The show, which chronicles the adventures of four third-graders named Stan (based on Parker), Kyle (based on Stone), Cartman and Kenny.