Drunk History Portrays A Wasted Past

Drunk History may itself be history, no new episodes have appeared since 2010, but its high concept (heh) and genuine hilarity are worthy of an illustrative autopsy. Above Ben Franklin makes his son fly a kite; Jack Black as Franklin lip-synchs to the slurring words of a professional comedian / amateur historian who has been meticulously intoxicated to the point of both physical and intestinal instability–falling down and puking are both common in this series.

The Drunk History recipe is pretty simple:

  • 1 comedian with an imprecise but enthusiastic knowledge of a specific historic event
  • 1 reenactment starring an impressive cast of comic stars, and
  • > 0.080 Blood Alcohol Concentration

Here’s John C. Reilly and Crispin Glover as Nikolai Tesla and Thomas Edison respectively.

Add the booze to the comedian, while filming continually, have the cast meticulously synch to the stutterings and plot-ramblings of the narrator, and don’t cut even when the history buff wraps his or her hands around the toilet. It allows comics to do 3 things they love simultaneously: have people pay attention to them, drink, and hold forth about a favorite historical event or character. It’s funny, it’s educational, it’s a shameless booze-driven trainwreck of self-humiliation!

There are 7 episodes in total, all available on the Funny or Die site. The show was created and produced by Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner as an independent project which was later picked up by Funny or Die. In 2010 two episodes of Drunk History appeared on HBO’s Funny Or Die Presents and it won a prize at Sundance. But no new episodes have appeared since then, nor was it in the second season of the HBO series.

At Sundance last year, Waters and Konner did an interview with our friend Jesse Thorn on The Sound of Young America:

Other guest performers have included Michael Cera, Zooey Deschanel, Don Cheadle and Will Ferrell amongst many others. Below J.D. Ryznar (Yacht Rock) recounts the ill-fated presidency of William Henry Harrison (played by Paul Schneider of Parks and Recreation, Bright Star), talks to his mom, and gives up the technicolor yawn in a big way.