Ovation: GUEST POST – ‘Drunk History’ Makes it Big on Comedy Central.
If you’ve ever sat through a history class taught by someone who looks like he went to school with Ben Franklin but still cannot manage to make the material interesting, you’re not alone. How can something as delicious as history be dehydrated to the point that people actually find it unappetizing?
Maybe those history lessons were presented in the wrong way. “Drunk History” puts a new twist on the historical perspective, educating while entertaining. The wildly popular web series from Funnyordie.com has now graduated to the big time with a spot on Comedy Central. Sure, you can catch streaming content of the show on services like Hulu, but do yourself a favor and catch it live, suggests GetDirectTV.org. Once you have seen it you’ll understand why you will want to be the guy at the water cooler who caught an episode the night before.
How it Works
A “storyteller” gets drunk — stinking drunk. Picture someone drunk enough to have to stop mid-story to throw up. As loaded as he or she is, this storyteller knows history and proceeds to share an important lesson from the past. The second episode on Comedy Central, recounts the time Harry Houdini met Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As the very drunk narrator stumbles through his tale, some of the most famous performers in Hollywood act out the roles. Half the comedy is in what the storyteller is saying, and half comes from watching these professional thespians pour themselves into the narrated version of the story. No two skits are alike because you never know when a storyteller is going to stop to pick up a random cat that wanders by or ask the camera man if he’s in the mood for pizza.
Where it Takes Place
Each Comedy Central episode centers on a different city. The premier episode took place in Washington D.C., with skits about John Wilkes Booth, the Watergate break-in, and Elvis Presley’s meeting with Richard Nixon. While none of those topics may seem like high comedy, there is nothing quite like a drunk guy putting his spin on it to keep your interest.
Fans of the web series will be glad to know that many of the storytellers and actors featured on the Internet series will also appear on the televised show. While that’s good news for the fans, it may not be such great news for the storyteller’s liver. Of course, there’s always the possibility that those storytellers consider their internal organs to be a small price to pay for the opportunity to educate millions of historically-ignorant people.
What Makes it Special
One feature of “Drunk History” that never fails to amaze is the way the actors are able to adapt their speech patterns and reaction times to those of the inebriated storytellers. If the storyteller stops to belch, so does the actor, even if it’s in the middle of a somewhat-serious scene. The quality of actors featured on the show is likely a primary factor in why it works so well. Performers like Will Ferrell, Don Cheadle, Jack Black, Zooey Deschanel, Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, John C. Reilly, Jim Carrey, Michael Cera, and Nick Offerman have popped up on the Web series to lend their considerable talents.
After spending six years on the Web, “Drunk History” will now be available to a much broader audience. One can only hope that history lessons will spread, one drunk teacher at a time.
About the author ... Barbra Cohen is an entertainment guru and mom who teaches spin class twice a week. Her dream is to be a TV and movie choreographer, but in the meantime she loves writing about the media in her spare time.
Creative Commons image by mountainhiker.
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