Comedy Central Teaches You History, But with Lots of Alcohol
Jack Black as Elvis in Comedy Central's "Drunk History"
If you were asked to recite the story behind Lincoln's assassination, would you be able to? It's a familiar tale, but there are some spotty moments, the befores and the afters. But even more so, would you be able to tell the historic tale behind Lincoln's assassination after you had drunk half a bottle of whiskey? Now that would be a good version of the story.
If you haven't been tuning in to Comedy Central's new show Drunk History, you are missing out on the history lessons your middle-school teacher never taught you, probably because he or she never knew, because it's pretty much made up.
The show began as a Web series in 2007. Creator Derek Walters describes the inspiration as coming from a drunk recounting of Otis Redding's death by Jake Johnson of New Girl. The alcohol-fueled rambling gave Walters the idea to get an actor/comedian drunk and have him recite a historic story, then have performers act out the action, mumblings, ummms, burping and all. The Web series was a huge hit on Funny or Die and caught the attention of Comedy Central, which began airing the series this month, Tuesdays at 10/9 p.m.
To say Drunk History is just funny is to say that watching people eat hot wings is just mildly disgusting; it goes far beyond that. The episodes, created by Walters and directed by Jeremy Konner, are 30 minutes long and feature a city in which three historic events took place. The storyteller needs to be fairly inebriated, according to Konner, to get the story to come out funny enough. If you've ever been the unfortunately sober person in a room of drunkards, you know that listening to smashed people ramble on is either a riot or totally obnoxious. But when the story is then acted out word for word by some famous celebrities such as Bob Odenkirk, Jack Black, Bill Hader, Winona Ryder, Michael Cera and many more, it becomes something magical. It's quite amazing to see these guys mouth the words perfectly -- I have no idea how they do it.
Hammered people can be really funny, but they can also be really depressing and remorseful, and that comes across in these videos as well. Additionally, sometimes the storyteller has had a bit too much and has to expel from his body not just the story but the alcohol as well (yeah, there's a barf episode).
Aside from the mountain of swear words going on in these videos, Comedy Central just might be on to something in terms of teaching our young people a different kind of history lesson. It may make little to no sense, but you'll remember it.