Archive for July 7th, 2013

Drunk History is back and bigger than ever

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Drunk History, the former YouTube web series that graduated to a Funny or Die exclusive complete with appearances on the Funny or Die HBO sketch show, is coming back. This time it has its own series on Comedy Central the first episode of which debuts on Tuesday at 10:00 PM EST. Since the show now has a 30 minute time slot to fill all by itself, each episode will feature three sketches on different subjects centered around one theme.

Derek Waters, creator of the original series, is the host. Over the course of eight episodes, he travels to different cities to film his friends, often local comedians, imbibe spirits to the point of extreme intoxication and then expound on a historical event. That drunken narration becomes a voice over while famous actors perform the story, lip-syncing to every drunken slur and stumble. Waters describes the show in this excellent Splitsider interview:

I always say the tone is “ridiculousness taken seriously.” The way the show’s gonna work is that, each episode you’re gonna see people that are passionate about their city, and then you’ll be seeing narrators that are either from that city or know a lot about that city telling these detailed stories. We’ll be doing the reenactments just like the shorts, but it’s gonna have more of me interacting with locals from those cities. Three stories an episode.

Early reviews of the new series are positive. It seems Waters has managed to capture the absurd greatness of the modest web series while giving the sketches a connective thread so they work in a full episode and series of television. Sketches in the first episode describe events that happened in Washington, D.C.: Watergate, with Nathan Fielder as Bob Woodward, Fred Willard as Deep Throat, Jack McBrayer as H.R. Haldeman and Bob Odenkirk as President Nixon, John Wilkes Booth’s conflict with his brother leading to the assassination of Lincoln (Adam Scott as JWB, Will Forte as Edwin Booth, Stephen Merchant as Abraham Lincoln), and Elvis Presley’s famous meeting with Richard Nixon, source of so many online avatars, performed by Jack Black (who killed as Ben Franklin in the original series) as Elvis Presley and Odenkirk reprising his role as Richard Nixon.

You can catch a glimpse of that last sketch in this clip:

The entire episode can be previewed online on Comedy Central’s website. The only other clip online right now is a Winona Ryder playing Quaker martyr Mary Dyer, one of four Quakers who were hanged in Boston for the crime of not leaving the Massachusetts Bay Colony in keeping with statues banning Quakers from the Puritan colony.

I never could get enough of Drunk History. The meager flow of sketches couldn’t come close to quenching my thirst, and that last one with Ryan Gosling doing the ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas really doesn’t count because it’s Drunk Literature, not Drunk History. Getting to see three sketches in a row each week feels like the richest luxury. Mark your calendars for Tuesday night, or bookmark the Comedy Central page so you can watch the full episodes online after they air.

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