Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride
When Stan discovers his new dog Sparky is gay, he becomes so confused he loses his will to play in the Homecoming football game against Middle Park.
Stan gets a new dog named Sparky, who turns out to be gay. Frustrated, he wishes out loud for a butch pet. Sparky overhears and runs away.
The distraction couldn't come at a worse time, because Stan quarterbacks the school football team, the South Park Cows, who are about to play the Middle Park Cowboys. Jimbo bets that the boys can beat the game's absurd 72-point spread, and everyone in the town follows suit. They vow to make Jimbo pay if he steers them wrong.
Jimbo and Ned decide to improve the odds. Learning that John Stamos' brother, Richard, will sing "Lovin' You" at halftime, they wire the opposing team's mascot, a horse named Enrique, with a bomb that's set to explode when Richard hits the song's high F note.
Stan ditches the game to look for Sparky. On the edge of town he meets Big Gay Al, proprietor of Big Gay Al's Big Gay Animal Sanctuary, where Sparky now lives. Big Gay Al takes Stan for a voyage on Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride -- an excursion into the history of gayness. Stan accepts Sparky just as he is, and they return to town together.
Meanwhile, back at the game, South Park is getting pummeled. At halftime Richard Stamos sings, but he fails to hit the fateful high F note and the bomb on Enrique doesn't detonate. Suddenly Stan and Sparky appear. Stan takes the field and lofts the ball to Kyle, who scores a touchdown as the clock runs out. The final score is 73 to 6 -- South Park beats the spread.
Stan leads the townspeople to Big Gay Al's Big Gay Animal Sanctuary, only to find it gone. However the pets are still there, and they joyously reunite with their former owners. Stan finally spots Big Gay Al, who thanks him for helping find homes for his charges. Then he steps into a suitcase, closes it and rockets off into space. Then Enrique finally explodes.
What I Learned Today
"It's OK to be gay! Being gay is just a part of nature and a beautiful thing!"
- "Stan's dog's a homo!" (Eric Cartman)
- "I'm super, thanks for asking!" (Big Gay Al)
- "Oh my! I haven't seen a Jew run like that since Poland, 1938!" (Sports Announcer)
- "Football is like making love to a really beautiful woman. You can't always score, but when you do, it makes all the trying worthwhile." (Chef)
- "We treat star athletes better because they're better people." (Mr. Garrison)
- "You know what they say, 'you can't teach a gay dog straight tricks.'" (Chef)
Finally we can see Jesus Christ on his show Jesus and Pals.
Behind The Scenes
The episode explores and promotes tolerance of homosexuals, pushing the boundaries of conservative attitudes toward homosexuality at the time. Trey and Matt credit this episode and "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo" for elevating South Park's credibility early on with their moral themes.
Where Did The Idea Come From
Trey and Matt wanted to write a scenario about a boy trying to convince his dog not to be homosexual. Also a childhood friend of Trey and Matt claimed Big Gay Al is supposedly based on a real life resident in Fairplay, Colorado who cross-dressed and lived out of town. On the contrary, Matt said the character came from the show's producer and writer Pam Brady.
Pop Culture References
Sparky is voiced by George Clooney.
Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride is a parody of the ride It's a Small World, the popular attraction in several Disneyland theme parks. Both are water rides that feature animatronic dolls of different ethnicities dancing and singing. An animatronic version of Brian Boitano can be seen gaily ice skating.
Big Gay Al's peculiar departure at the end of the episode is an homage to a scene from the movie Seven Faces of Dr. Lao.
Even though the assignment was on "Asian Cultures", Cartman gives a presentation on the 1980's detective show Simon and Simon, saying "And so you see, Simon and Simon weren't brothers in real life. Only on television." He gets a D-.
Stan wishes his dog Sparky would be "a Rin Tin Tin". Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd who starred in multiple Hollywood films in the '20s and '30s and gained international fame.
Full House star John Stamos' older brother, Richard. Though he probably doesn't count, because Matt and Trey made him up.
English actor Hugh Grant. When Pip who isn't equipped with a helmet gets pummeled during the game, one of the announcers says, "I haven't seen an Englishman take a blow like that since Hugh Grant." This is in reference to his 1995 arrest for having public oral sex with Hollywood prostitute Divine Brown
- This is the first episode in South Park that centers around the topic of homosexuality and it certainly isn't the last.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" was also nominated in the Outstanding TV - Individual Episode category for the 1998 GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Awards. Lastly, this episode was submitted when South Park won a CableACE Award for Outstanding Animated Series.
- Mr. Garrison is called out for being gay for the first time. Chef mentions how "he, of all people, should be accepting towards gays," sighting his overt gay tendencies. Garrison denies it as he will continue to do until he finally confronts his homosexuality in "Fourth Grade".
- A few equations written on Mr. Garrison's chalkboard do not mathematically make sense, such as "πr2=2πr". πr2 calculates the area of a circle while 2πr calculates the circumference. They do not equal to one another unless r=0 or r=2.
- Two Visitors can be seen in the bleacher crowd as the Middle Park team gets off its bus.