Drunk History: Tuesdays at 10 p.m. Eastern on Comedy Central
Have you ever been to a bar and someone you barely know walks up to you and starts talking your ear off about something neither you nor they are particularly knowledgeable about? Comedy Central is banking that what you may find irritating at your local watering hole you’ll find entertaining in 22 minute chunks on your TV screen with it’s newest show, Drunk History
Drunk History revolves around a simple (and pretty self evident) concept: Various people recount important events of American History under the influence. These events are then re-enacted by guest star, and are often of dubious factual stature.
Drunk History tackles multiple topics a show, which helps keep you from tiring out on each rambling story (and expect each story to ramble). Our premiere episode tackled three of the most influential events in American History: Watergate, Lincoln’s Assassination, and that time Elvis came to the White House to meet Nixon in the early 70’s.
With shows like this, the most important question you can ask is: did I laugh? Well I did. Derek Waters does an excellent job staying out of the way of his guests, existing solely to ensure the guests are inebriated enough to tell the stories, which take already interesting moments in American history and turn them up to ridiculous levels.
What truly makes this show work however, is its ability to strive for accuracy while striving for complete inaccuracy at the same time. Since we only hear the voice of our original storytellers, the reenactments are entirely lip-synced, and lip-synced well. This commitment carries over to the drunk moments, leading to scenarios like Richard Nixon or John Wilkes Booth comically veering off course as the storyteller reacts to having a cat in the room or stumbling over his speech. Conversely, the bare minimum is often put into making our guest stars look like their counterparts, leading to Bob Odenkirk and Stephen Merchant looking nothing like Richard Nixon or Abe Lincoln respectively.
Speaking of the guest re-enactors, we get to see a who’s who of the comedy world attack these roles, with our debut episode also showing cameos by Dave Grohl, Jack Black, Nathan Fielder, Adam Scott, Fred Willard and others in addition to Odenkirk and Merchant.
Drunk History also works because it fearlessly takes the absurdism and cranks it up to eleven. Hearing about how Elvis’s ego made him a narcotics officer who tried to run down a plane in order to catch a jewel thief during the apex of his “Fat Elvis” years works on a fundamentally different level coming from someone whose enthusiastic because he’s drunk as opposed to merely being stubborn while playing ill-informed (like say, Stephen Colbert’s character on his self titled show).
The Final Verdict: For a show that extols the virtues of drunk, loose, sloppy storytelling, Drunk History succeeds surprisingly well at being a tight, detail oriented show (even when it’s trying to get details wrong). Between it’s mixture of A-list comedic talent on the re-enactment side, relatively short story lengths, and a full bore commitment to it’s major conceit, it’s a show whose laughs come from unexpected depths. Check it out, it’s a pretty funny take on the weird but true events of our nation’s past.